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Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday announced in the state legislative assembly that the government would extend to the Maratha community the educational concessions that are currently given to OBCs.
He said the government would form a cabinet sub- committee, which would review the implementation of various schemes for the Maratha community.
The chief minister's announcement came on a day the Maratha community took out a massive silent march- 'Maratha Kranti Morcha' - in south Mumbai to press for reservation in jobs and education, among other demands.
The announcement was made after Fadnavis held a meeting with the representatives of the Maratha community.
A delegation of 40 people, including women, met him at the Vidhan Bhawan this afternoon. Congress leader Narayan Rane, BJP's associate member and Rajya Sabha member Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Shashikant Shinde and Sunil Tatkare were also present on the occasion.
Speaking in the assembly, Fadnavis said, "Earlier, the Maratha community students were getting a scholarship for 35 various educational courses."
"Now, these students will get scholarship benefits for all the 605 courses like the OBC students get. The educational qualification criteria for Maratha students would be the same as the OBC students."
"The Maharashtra government will also form a cabinet sub-committee, which will review the implementation of various schemes and hold talks with the delegation of Maratha Kranti Morcha every three months," he said.
The Annasaheb Patil Development Corporation of Maharashtra would provide skill development training to three lakh Maratha students, he said, adding that the government will also offer some relief on the interest on an educational loan up to Rs 10 lakh.
"The government will provide Rs five crore for every district to construct a hostel for Maratha students. It will be operated by NGOs," Fadnavis said.
On the Kopardi rape incident, the chief minister said, "The defence lawyers are deliberately buying time and trying to postpone the trial. They have been fined by the high court as well. The case is currently being heard in a sessions court in Ahmednagar district."
Speaking outside the House, Fadnavis said, "The hearing is almost over. Once the entire hearing gets over, I am hopeful of the court announcing its verdict soon."
In the House, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, "We are not satisfied with the announcements by the CM."
Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi and AIMIM leaders Imtiaz Jaleel and Waris Pathan said the government should extend similar benefits to Muslims students as well.
Fadnavis said, "The educational benefits to OBC Muslims and SC Muslim students are not changed. Those scholarships and relaxation in educational qualifications will continue to be there.
"The Muslim students also get scholarship for 605 courses and state government is not changing it either. If there are some individual cases, we will sort them out separately."
Thousands of people belonging to the Maratha community from different parts of Maharashtra converged in the megapolis today as part of their campaign to press for reservation in jobs and education among other demands.
Amid tight security, the massive silent march began from the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla this morning and ended at Azad maidan.
This is the 58th march of the Maratha community, exactly a year after the first such protest was held in Aurangabad.
The march has been organised by the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organisation of several Maratha groups.
These 'mook morcha' or silent rallies were held in various parts of the state following the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl, belonging to the Maratha community, at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district in July last year.