Protests and agitations are not new to our country. Take the example of Telangana. The scale of the protests was so huge that it forced the ruling party to meet public’s demand and divide Andhra Pradesh. But this is just one type. More common is the reservation-fuelled protest. The Patidars in Gujrat and the aftermath, including resignation of the CM, come to mind when we think of this. The recent Maratha agitation, sparked by the rape of a 15-yr old girl by three Dalit youths, have brought out huge number of people from the Maratha community onto the streets for a out of the box “muk andolan” (mute protest). Here, we bring you five major protests in recent memory that have made the people and the respective governments sit up and take notice including the Maratha agitation to give you an idea of how they may play out in the future.
When: July 2016 - Present
Why: All that needed was a spark to ignite the already present discontent among the Marathas against the Dalits. This agitation is quite different to others in the sense that other agitations did not have two communities pitting against each other but had oppression and greater representation as the first priority. Now Marathas have always had a good representation in the ruling class, but the divide between the ruling and the elite has always been a point of friction. This is the biggest single agitation (mute and non-violent, it must be added) in the state.
Present condition: This agitation has made the BJP-Shiv Sena government sit up and take notice. The CM has said that he supports the demands and will work out a solution.
When: 1990 - Present
Where: Punjab, Haryana
Why: The Jat community wanted to be included in the OBC category. The argument being that they were still backward when compared to the upper cast. In Haryana, where they are the largest community, the agitation caused a big ruckus with a large scale of protesters turning to streets. Though the ruling political party agreed to the demands, it has failed to provide a reasonable clause under which the Jats could be given reservation, and has consistently faced setbacks in the courts.
Present situation: The Judiciary has not been convinced by the bills under which both the Congress and the BJP governments have tried to bring Jats in the OBC category. A big setback was the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s striking down of the 10% SBC (Special Backward Castes) quota for the Jats. The battle is going on though the intensity has subsided considerably.
When: 1990s - Present
Where: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana
Why: The power struggle between different castes and the Kapu caste being sidelined resulted in Mudragada Padmanabham, a Minister in Kotla Vijaya Bhasakar Reddy led Congress government, quitting his position demanding reservation for kapus. The Congress government made a hurried proposal to the High Court which was eventually struck down. The movement subsided and lost its intensity. Two decades later, however, the Kapu Aaikya Garjana Meet with Padmanabham at its helm saw the Kapu community raise their voice again to be listed as Backward Caste.
Present situation: There have been some arguments linking the Kapu agitation to Patidars’ in Gujrat, though the intensity of the former is significantly lower. Right now there is no solution in sight and the matter drags on.
When: 6 July 2015 - Present
Why: Led by Hardik Patel, the Patidar community in Gujrat launched protest to obtain OBC status and subsequently reservation citing their poor economic status and underrepresentation in the state. The agitation turned out to be quite violent with many protester being jailed and the leader Hardik Patel getting a conditional bail which forced him to stay out of state for six months.
Present condition: No concrete solution has been formulated for this but the state has returned to normal condition after repeated talks as well as some promises made by the leadership. If some compromise is not made in the upcoming months, this could again take a violent turn and hurt the state as well as the political leadership.
When: 23 May, 2008 - 17 June 2008 and 17 December 2010 - 7 January 2011
Why: The Gurjars in Rajasthan are classified as OBC but they wanted a Scheduled Tribe status. The major flashpoint was police opening fire on a group of protesters on 23 May, 2008 and the violent clashes resulting out of it. The Indian Army had to be called to calm the situation. The Gurjar community wanted a 5 pc reservation in government jobs and began the protest again in 2010 when their demands were not met. It flared up again last year with a eight-day deadlock coming to an end when the government finally agreed to meet the demands.
Present situation: The bill has not been passed as of yet but the agitation has subsided. Conflicts could arise again in future depending on whether or not the community gets the reservation it expects.
Title image: Outlookindia