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Home » National » Jarange-Patil’s fall from grace: Maha SIT to probe 7-month Maratha agitation (Lead)

Jarange-Patil’s fall from grace: Maha SIT to probe 7-month Maratha agitation (Lead)

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Mumbai, Feb 27

In a new twist, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday said it will set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the seven-month-long Maratha agitation spearheaded by Shivba Sanghatana chief Manoj Jarange-Patil, and related aspects like funding, violence, and its purported master-mind.

The matter led to turmoil in both houses of Maharashtra Legislature during the Budget Session, after which Speaker Rahul Narwekar announced a probe.

The development marks an abrupt fall from grace for Jarange-Patil – who withdrew his fourth hunger strike of 17 days on Monday – after he lorded over the state political scenario for seven months from August last year.

On his part, Jarange-Patil, from a hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, denied the allegations against him and said “the government can freely conduct any probe against me, and also against the ministers”.

Handled with kid gloves for so many months, the iron fists suddenly came out after Jarange-Patil accused Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, of the BJP, of allegedly hatching a plot to eliminate him, after which the MahaYuti government toughened its stance.

Raising the issue in the Assembly, BJP MLA Ashish Shelar slammed the provocative language used by Jarange-Patil, questioned “who are people behind him”, and termed it as a conspiracy to create disturbances in the state.

Fadnavis said: “Jarange-Patil can make any wild allegations against me, but the entire Maratha community knows how I have been working for the reservation… We shall find out who is the mastermind. Burning down MLAs’ homes is not proper and a full-fledged investigation will unravel who were the real culprits.”

In the Council, BJP’s Praving Darekar made similar demands for a probe, arrest of Jarange-Patil and others demanded a narco-test.

Shiv Sena-UBT President and former CM Uddhav Thackeray said that when Jarange-Patil launched his agitation, three was caning and tear-gas shelling by the police, when farmers were protesting they were dubbed as terrorists, now the same is being with the Marathas.

After that, many Opposition leaders went and met him and the probe can check out phone-call records, “on which the current Director-General of Police (Rashmi Shukla) is an expert”, he added.

Nationalist Congress Party-SP MLA Rohit R. Pawar commented that when the SIT probe was announced, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was not in the house.

Rushing to defend Fadnavis and the government, Shinde said that when Jarange-Patil raised the demands for Maratha quotas, he had no political background, but now he’s speaking political language.

“I discarded all protocols and visited him twice (to break his hunger fasts)… Now, he is attacking the Deputy CM and other ministers. The language that he is uttering is not that of a (Maratha) activist but of a politician,” said Shinde, saying the SIT should be allowed to probe all aspects.

Shinde said that the government has unanimously given 10 per cent Maratha quotas in jobs and education which will stand up in the courts and this was appreciated by Jarange-Patil.

“The Supreme Court had observed that the Marathas are not backward, but the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) has conducted a massive survey and concluded that the community is socially and educationally backward. The reservations we have given will not disturb the existing quotas of any other community,” he declared.

The CM said that the Maratha quotas issue was pending for decades and they were denied the reservation though they are a backward community and he was committed to ensure that they get the quotas.

Among other things, Jarange-Patil used foul words, alleged that Fadnavis was ‘plotting to eliminate’ him by poisoning his saline and trying to smother his voice, and also targetted several ministers of BJP and ruling Shiv Sena, and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Fadnavis assured that the entire conspiracy behind the Maratha agitation would be revealed in the SIT probe, including the Beed violence (October 29), the arson on legislators’ homes, torching political party offices, the war-rooms in Thane and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, etc.

Jarange-Patil seemed to have lost the support of the Opposition parties too, with Congress leaders like Nana Patole, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar, Balasaheb Thorat and others flaying the Shivba Sanghatana chief on various counts, and demanded that all allegation need to be probed.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Police on Tuesday booked Jarange-Patil and others under various sections for the latest agitation and road blocks in different parts of the state from February 24 which had led to massive traffic snarls and inconvenienced the public, especially students going to write their HSC exams.

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