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With pledge to continue fighting, Muslim reservation march ends in Mumbai
Monday May 27, 2013 6:23 PM, Ather Shazan, ummid.com

More than 10,000 people, who joined the paidal-march demanding 20% reservation for the Muslims when it entered Mumbai on Monday on the last day of the 10-day long campaign, pledged to continue fighting till the government agrees to their demand.

Holding the National tricolor in one hand and the Muslim Reservation Federation (MRF) flag in the other, totally peaceful and disciplined Muslims from all across the state who were belonging to different sects and of varying political affiliations filled the huge KJ Somaiya ground in Chembur to fight for what they termed as 'the long pending' demand of the community and 'the only solution' for its empowerment.

"This is the beginning of the long battle. We will not take rest till our demands are met", convenor of the Muslim Reservation Federation (MRF) Asif Shaikh Rasheed, who led the 300-kms long march, said even as Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat nodded in agreement.

"We will be meeting Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today evening and raise our demand. If he does not take any decision in a month's time, he should be ready for even a bigger and more powerful agitation", Asif Shaikh said amid applauds from the huge gathering.

He said that the Congress led government had already done it in Andhra Pradesh and it was now time for the Maharashtra government to take a decision.

Criticising "some" of the Muslim ministers and political leaders associated with the government who tried to "sabotage" the paidal-march, he said, "A minister says those who are participating in the march are "hired" and called on "payment". We will pay him Rs.50 lakhs in a reward if he walks from Malegaon to Mumbai like us."

Maharashtra Samajwadi Party president Abu Aasim Azmi who joined the march after it entered Mumbai also criticised the Muslim leaders belonging to the Congress and NCP. He said that such a long march cannot be planned without devotion and commitment.

"I salute the people of Malegaon who took this initiative. Reservation is the right of Muslims and they should be given it without further delay", he said.

Ridiculing the government's stand on Muslim issues, he said, "When you meet the Chief Minister in the evening, he will say we will consider your demand. For how long you will "just consider" the demands raised by the Muslims?"

Criticising Minority Development Department Minister Arif Naseem Khan who said the state government is waiting for Mehmoodur Rehman Committee Report for a decision on the issue, Azmi said, "There are already enough number of committee reports and commissions formed by the government. We need no more commissions now. We need the reservation", he said.

Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, who came to the venue at the behest of the Chief Minister, justified the Muslim reservation and acknowledged the efforts taken by the people of Malegaon and other parts of the state who participated in the 300-kms long paidal-march from Malegaon to Mumbai.

"Your demand is justified and as a Minister in charge of your area I will do whatever is in my hand", he said.

More than 2,000 Muslim Reservation Federation (MRF) activists walked to Mumbai demanding 20% reservation for Muslims in government jobs and in admissions to government colleges.

The 300-kms long paidal-march which started from Malegaon on May 17 was supposed to end at Mumbai's Azad Maidan. However, when the march reached near Bhiwandi, after covering around 250 kms on foot, they were informed by the Mumbai police that they cannot enter Mumbai and hold rally at Azad Maidan.

After a last minute patch-up, they were given the permission to entre Mumbai and organise a rally at Chembur's KJ Somaiya ground.



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