Mumbai is set to face its biggest silent rally by the Maratha community in Maharashtra, as lakhs of community members are expected to participate in the gathering on Wednesday, August 9. The event is being organised by Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body formed by various community groups.
Wednesday's event is a planned rally which would mark the completion of one year of the Maratha Kranti Muk Morcha -- a series of silent marches taken out by the community. The first such rally was organised on August 9 in Aurangabad last year.
The Maratha community has been organising silent rallies in various districts across the state to protest against the rape and murder of a teenager from Kopardi, in Maharasthra. One of their demands is to announce punishment to the accused in the case at the earliest.
Reports state that around six lakh members are expected to join the silent march from Byculla zoo in South Mumbai to Azad maidan, the rally is set to begin at 11 am.
The Maratha community has decided to come together on such a large scale for the first time, and have put forwards various demands, including justice for the Korpadi rape victim, reservation for the community, implementation of Dr Swaminathan Commission report and amendment in the Atrocity Act
"There have been at least 56 rallies in the past one year but not a single demand has been met," Sanjeev Bhor-Patil, a member of Maratha Sakal Samaj, the apex body of the community in the state told DNA.
City authorities also received an early indication about the traffic situation in the region as the march is set to disrupt traffic flow early in the morning.
Volunteers have laid out flags and distributed orange caps and t-shirts with slogans to the ones joining the protest. The community members organised meetings to discuss strategies, and also fired motivating messages on various social media platform like Facebook, Twitter to garner support from others.
Mumbai rail authorities also notified the public on Wednesday about the additional numbers of trains which will be plying in the region, and assigned security personnel at several stations including CST, Byculla, Wadala, Kurla, Mulund, Belapur and Vashi.
Mumbai police is also set to deploy more than 7000 personnel, including commandos, along the rally route.
The rally organisers have made it clear that no politician will share the stage with the protesting leaders.
Congress leader and former chief minister Narayan Rane said that he will join the march and also clarified that he was doing out of personal capacity and not as a party's initiative.
Calling it a historic and final protest in Mumbai, Bhor-Patil said that if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis fails to fulfil the demands, people will be frustrated further. Meanwhile, if something untoward happens, the Maratha community should not be blamed, he warned.
While BJP Mumbai chief, Ashish Shelkar, confirmed his participation, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said that the party had always supported the Maratha movement from the early days.
Even Shiv Sena has extended its support. Sena Leader Sanjay Raut told Mumbai Mirror that this is a non-political morcha and that they were actively supporting it. Shiv Sena members will be offering refreshments to protesters at various locations.
Scroll down for video
Although the morcha is being called a form a silent protest, the anger among the community was reflected by the hoards of people joining the protests, particularly the family members of the Kopardi teen who was raped and killed.
"It was an assault on the entire community. She had gone out to deliver the tiffin to her grandparents, who lived 50 metres away, on July 13, 2016. We cannot forget what state she was brought in," the girl's uncle told Mumbai Mirror. "We will not rest till the culprits are hanged. A delegation of 10 women will meet the chief minister and press for the death penalty."
Meanwhile, the state education minister Vinod Tawde announced that the schools in south Mumbai will remain shut, owing to the chaos due to the morcha. Central Railway authorities have reportedly said that extra second class coaches will be added to 18 Mumbai-bound and outgoing trains.
Bhaiya Patil, the social media convener for the morcha told DNA that Maratha community in Pakistan have also extended their support.
Watch the video here