Fadnavis cancels temple visit amid protest threats

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], July 22 (ANI): After the Maratha community called for protest seeking reservation in government jobs, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has cancelled his visit to a temple in Pandharpur town. Fadnavis on Sunday decided that he will not to perform 'mahapuja' of Lord Vitthal at Pandharpur temple. The Chief Minister said that he cancelled his visit after intelligence inputs that few groups might try to create an unwelcome situation, which could even claim lives. While talking to the media, Fadnavis said, "In Maharashtra, the tradition of Wari (pilgrims going to Pandharpur) is 700 years old. I have been going there for the past three years. Some organisations have protested against it, their stand is wrong. I have Z-plus protection and no one can touch me but i don't want to cause problem for others. If I am the reason for the threat to the security of 10 lakhs pilgrims, then, I will not go there." As part of a long-standing tradition, the chief minister offers prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur in Solapur district, on the occasion of 'Ashadhi Ekadashi'. Maratha groups have allegedly threatened to disrupt the religious event if their various demands, including reservation in government jobs and education, are not fulfilled by the state government. Fadnavis made this announcement after meeting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah in Mumbai today. Fadnavis also underscored that decision in connection with Maratha reservations will be taken by the high court. "The decision pertaining to Maratha reservations will only be taken by the High Court. We will not harm the future of Maratha youths. But, even then, some parties and groups are trying to incite people to create social divisions," Fadnavis said. In 2016, the Maratha community had organized a series of silent 'Maratha Kranti Morchas' with demands like quotas and to stop the misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Maratha- Kunbi caste group is said to account for around 31.5 per cent of Maharashtra's population. Kunbis, who form majority numbers in Konkan and Vidarbha, are already covered under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. (ANI)
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