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Matang’s agitation for 8% reservation within Schedule Caste

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On 28th December, near Bandra Collector’s office, people of ‘Akhil Bharatiya Matang Sangh’ demonstrated with a peaceful protest rally. The Mang or Matang (Minimadig in Gujarat and Rajasthan) community is an Indian caste, historically oppressed by forced association to ‘low-status’ or ‘ritually’ impure professions such as village mu- sicians, cattle castrators, leather curers, midwives, hangmen, undertakers, and criminals. Persons from this caste are one of the most suppressed and neglected in the state.

Their demands were against the backdrop of what happened on 20th of December’15
in Nagpur.
1) A separate 8% reservation quota for their community (within the SC quota) and this was the reason for their protest in Nagpur.
2) On 20th December, People of Matang Samaj went to Nagpur (in Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s election rally). They were protesting peacefully; but their demonstration was broken into fragments by the police force without any specific reason, as claimed by the people of Matang Samaj.
3) The Police not only beat them ruthlessly; but also slapped charges against them. They are demanding, the state police to take back the charges.
4) The authority or the administration must provide upto Rs.5 lakhs to the people who were seriously injured during the demonstration – demanded the people of Matang Samaj.

At around 11 ‘o clock in the morning on of 28th December, a group of 40 to 50 people gathered in front of Bandra Collector’s office and started demonstrating their objection and demands through Marathi songs, poetry and some slogans of Annabhau Sathe (A freedom fighter who belonged to this particular caste), Bheem Rao ji and Lahu ji for their fundamental rights to equality and access to basic amenities. Some of the demonstrators held a yellow coloured flags, with an emblem – Jai bheemji or Jai Lahuji. They were barricaded and encircled by 10 police officers. They were also dislocated from their earlier position by the police and were pushed into a corner while they tried to fight and claim their
rights.

The Demonstrators came from different parts of Maharashtra – Latur, Amravati, Ratnagiri, Aurangabad etc. A protestor, Mr.Ram Gate, from Latur, anguished, said “even after so many years of independence, we are not able to have proper education. Even worse, ones who are having education are not eligible for the jobs “. Mr.Sanjay Pankhmore, from Amravati added “Even if we are having qualified people in our community, the reserved jobs are availed by the relatively creamy from SC people. Whether it is higher caste or higher SC, they always do the segregation and discrimination, so where will we go?” This is the reason why they have come here to demonstrate and bring it forth to the Maharashtra State Government and also to the Central government.

The collector showed reluctance each time he was approached. He was approached at least thrice till 2.30 p.m., but all in vain.

A lady claimed “we were and still are not taken seriously by the state government. It’s a high time for the govt. to make us a part of this society, rather than making them invisible; so this 8% of reservation is an initiative in its own, where among other Schedule Castes (like Chamaar, Mahar, Mang e.t.c), we will also be counted “.

A group of people among the protesters stated that the upper class people do mock them or tease them as uneducated or low valued men, and whenever they approach them for providing education or job, the upper caste people (including upper castes of SC) simply discourage them, they are being told that reading
and learning is not meant for them; what will they do to be educated? “We are still neglected in every way. This has to stop. We will fight for our rights till the end” said a young protester.

Recently, Anjali Pawar, a govt. official, has taken their demands to the State Ministry. The ‘Matang Samaj’ people will continue their protest. On 20th of January,2016 they will again protest in a rally from Azad Maidan to the Mantralaya, Mumbai. Let their protest or rather heartfelt requests be taken forward to the Central Government.

(Basundhra Banerjee, Student of Diploma in Community Media in TISS, Mumbai)

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