"Padyatra" in support of separate Vidarbha launched

Nagpur, Sept 28: The agitation for separate Vidarbha was revived today when thousands of youths, led by activist Ashish Deshmukh, son of Congress leader Ranjeet Deshmukh, launched a "padyatra" demanding statehood for the region in Eastern Maharashtra.

Ashish set ablaze copies of Nagpur Pact, signed on September 28, 1953 under which Vidarbha was merged with Maharashtra, as a mark of protest. Accompanied by former MP and staunch protagonist of Vidarbha, Jambuwantrao Dhote, and his father, a two-time State Congress chief, among others, Ashish performed puja at "Vidarbha Chandika" temple at Shahid Square in Itwari area and commenced his five-day long foot march.

The youth leader, after visiting the shrine of sufi saint Hazarat Baba Tajuddin and Deekshabhoomi, where Dalit leader Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, will proceed to Sewagram Ashram.

The marchers will participate in a sit-in at Mahatma Gandhi's ashram on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 and end the "padyatra".

Retired Director General of Police Prabir Chakraborty, ex-Chief Commissioner of Income Tax S Dharmik and social activist Ahmed Kadar, among others, participated in the march.

Later talking to reporters, Ashish said they are planning to intensify their efforts to convince both major political parties, the Congress and the BJP, to support the genuine demand for separate Vidarbha state. The demand for separate Vidarbha was older than many such demands and the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC), too, had recommended statehood for the region, he added.


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