Mumbai: An educated unemployed youth on Monday attacked prominent lawyer Gunratna Sadavarte, who has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the new Maharashtra legislation providing for quotas to Marathas, outside the Bombay High Court.
The attack took place when Sadavarte was addressing the media on the quota issue hearing that had concluded a short while earlier.
After he finished his briefing and was moving out, one person from the crowd suddenly lunged forward shouting “Ek Maratha, Lakh Marath”, pushed and punched Sadavarte, who lost his balance and his glasses.
The assailant shouted abuses and wanted to know why the lawyer was challenging the Maratha reservations even as some policemen and lawyers around managed to grab the attacker and whisked him away.
He later identified himself as Vaijnath Mukne Patil from Jalna, a graduate but jobless youth. He has been detained at the Azad Maidan Police Station.
The incident happened after Sadavarte’s PIL came up for hearing before a division bench comprising Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice M.S. Karnik, opposing the state government’s recent decision to provide 16 per cent reservations in government jobs and education to the Marathas.
He contended in the PIL that the new law is violative of the Supreme Court’s earlier orders stipulating that caste and community-based reservations in states cannot exceed the 50 per cent ceiling.
Sadavarte also informed the media that he had submitted to the court how he had received “over a thousand threats” to his life for opposing the quotas and complaints had been lodged with the Mumbai Police.
After the state legislature unanimously passed the bill during the winter session last month, Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao had signed the legislation.
Monday’s attack resulted in a war of words among different Maratha organisations, opposition parties and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena government.
Maratha leaders like Virendra Pawar and Dilip Patil, opposing Sadavarte alleged he was doing it for “publicity” and brought the attack upon himself, while Maharashtra BJP Minister Girish Mahajan said that the attack was “condemnable” and would be investigated.