Taking all Steps to Issue Kunbi Certificates to Eligible Marathas: Maharashtra Govt tells HC

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it was taking all necessary steps to include eligible Marathas in the OBC category by granting them Kunbi caste certificates.

The statement came as Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange’s hunger strike on the issue entered the fifth day.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf told a division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Shyam Chandak that it has not been even 20 days since the government issued a draft notification stating that (eligible) Marathas would be included in the Other Backward Classes, but Jarange has already launched a hunger strike.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by activist Gunaratan Sadavarte over disruption of law and order due to Jarange’s ongoing agitation.

Saraf said the government has always been sensitive to the situation.

“Last time people (Jarange and his followers) marched to Mumbai and the state took steps, including issuing a notification calling for objections to amend the rules. The law has a certain timeline. In situations like this, a continuous fast will lead to various situations which will become difficult,” the advocate general told the court.

“The government is taking all steps to amend the rules to issue Kunbi caste certificates to persons from the Maratha community,” he added. Kunbis, an agrarian community, get reservation under the OBC category.

The government was also concerned about Jarange’s health and he should accept medical assistance, Saraf further said.

Sadavarte, arguing himself, said frequent protests created law and order problems.

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Jarange’s lawyer Ramesh Dubepatil told the court that the activist was being administered saline.

The court said it would hear the matter further on Thursday.

Jarange called off his massive protest march to Mumbai in January after the government came out with a draft notification stating that if a Maratha person has proof to show that he or she belongs to Kunbi community, the person’s `sage-soyare’ or blood relatives would also get the Kunbi caste certificate.

On February 10, he launched a fresh hunger strike, seeking a special session of Maharashtra legislature to convert the draft notification issued by the social justice department into law.

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