Celebrating her mother’s 29th birthday two months ago (September 8) was a joyous occasion for Shubhada Chavan, a fifth-standard student at Jategaon village in Beed district. But that joy was short-lived as just four days later, on September 12, her parents Sonali and Raju ended their lives. Raju’s younger brother Sanjay claimed that with the Maratha reservation issue dragging on, the couple had died by suicide due to the failure to get government jobs.
“My sister-in-law had passed Class X and was working with a self-help group. She was unable to get a job as an Anganwadi worker while my brother would do odd jobs as a labourer or work at the flour mill. Villagers were holding chain fasts and responding to Maratha leader Manoj Jarange-Patil’s call to intensify the agitation. Raju had also observed day-long fast . I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden my niece came running to my place and said that Raju and Sonali had shut themselves in their room. We immediately went to check and found they had ended their lives,” Sanjay Chavan said.
“My niece rarely speaks nowadays,” he said, while guiding her to the stage at a function organised today by Maharashtra Health Minister Dr Tanaji Sawant under the aegis of Bhairavnath Udyog Samuha. At the function cheques of Rs 5 lakh each were handed to 37 such families (including two from the Dhangar community)where one member had allegedly died by suicide over the Maratha reservation issue.
He was accompanied by former Rajya Sabha MP Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje who made an emotional appeal to members of the Maratha community to refrain from taking such drastic steps. “We want to strengthen our movement and demand for reservation. I was on my way to Mumbai. But when Tanaji Sawant called me and said they wanted to help those families who had lost some of their relatives over the issue. I agreed to attend the function but felt extremely sad and wondered what I would tell the families who had lost their loved ones. We need to tell them that suicide is not an option — Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj taught us how to fight for Swarajya. Whatever the reasons, it is not correct that our youths take the extreme step in a state like Maharashtra,” Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje said.
Both Raje and Sawant appealed that members of the Maratha community should come together and strengthen the movement. Sawant pointed out that during the previous agitation around 42 such members of the Maratha community had ended their lives. “There were 58 such protest marches that were peacefully conducted. However then too some had taken the drastic step to end their life. We had provided financial assistance then but these are temporary measures. What is important is that our youth should not take such drastic steps and instead strengthen the movement for reservation,” Sawant said.