Dhangar community was expecting quotas by including them under the Scheduled Tribes
A day after the Maharashtra government passed a bill providing for education and government job reservations to the Marathas, hundreds of members of the "Dhangar" (shepherd) community took to streets demanding similar quotas, in Mumbai on Friday.
The agitating Dhangars, mostly youth, staged a noisy procession outside the Maharashtra Assembly where the winter session is currently underway, shouting slogans for reservations.
Several of them attempted to engage in a scuffle with security personnel, and the police had to detain over three dozen agitators from the high-security zone.
On Thursday, the state government passed a bill providing for 16 per cent education and government job reservations to the politically influential Marathas.
However, the Dhangar community — which was expecting quotas by including them under the Scheduled Tribes — was disappointed as there was no mention of any benefits to them.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the report on quotas for the Dhangars is not yet complete and a sub-committee has been appointed for the purpose.
The Action Taken Report (ATR) and other formalities for extending quotas to Dhangars would be tabled in the legislature soon, he had assured.
Currently, the Dhangars, who are in sizeable numbers in at least 25 Lok Sabha seats out of 48 in the state, are included in the Vimukta Jati & Nomadic Tribes (VJNT).
In certain states like Madhya Pradesh, where the community is known as "Dhangad", is enjoying ST benefits, and the Maharashtra Dhangars have also demanded the same.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Vikas Mahatme, who is the Dhangar Sangharsh Samiti President, has claimed that the Dhangars and Dhangads are the same, but with a spelling difference and hence Dhangars must be given ST status on par with Dhangads.
The community, which had taken out street protests all over Maharashtra in August, now plans state-wide processions on the lines of the 58 Maratha silent processions taken out in past two years, culminating in the quota victory for them.