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Kirori Lal Bainsla: Fallen hero?
Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi | June 08, 2007 10:07 IST
For 67-year-old, retired army colonel, Kirori Lal Bainsla, it has been a swift rise and fall as leader of the martial-pastoral caste group, the Gujjars.
Throughout last week, as the leader of the Gujjar Aarakshan Sanghursh Samiti, Bainsla had first blocked the all important Jaipur-Agra highway and then brought the fight right into Delhi with a hugely successful bandh on June 4.
Yet, Bainsla did not take much time in vacating the pedestal that he had been occupying as a Gujjar leader by agreeing to what has now become a controversial agreement with the Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government.
Bainsla, born in Mudia, a village near Jaipur, began his professional life as a teacher, but true to the martial tradition of the largely pastoral caste of Gujjars, joined the Indian Army in 1971 on the eve of the India-Pakistan war in the same year.
Over the next 30 years he served the army, rising steadily through its ranks and saw two of his sons, Daulat Bainsla and Jai Bainsla, follow him into the army. Another son, Vijay, joined a telecom company while his daughter, Sunita, works in the income tax department.
It was in 2000, after a Jat agitation to be included in the Other Backward Classes category was successful and the Gujjars' share of the OBC pie shrunk considerably, that Bainsla determined that the only way out for the community would be to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category. He formed the Gujjar Aarakshan Sanghursh Samiti with this one-point programme.
During the assembly elections of 2003, when Vasundhara Raje visited Alwar and other areas of south Rajasthan, she went out of her way to emphasise her kinship with the Gujjars. Her son, Dushyant Singh, was married to Niharika, daughter of the 'Maharaja' of Samthar.
Dressed in a traditional Gujjar costume, she could not say no to the Gujjar demand for inclusion in the ST category and promised to look into it.
Matters came to a head in May 2007, three years after this incident. The trigger for the timing of the agitation is unknown, though the reasons for it are clear.
"Meenas, who are in the ST category, have 225 IAS and IPS officers from their community, the Gujjars only one in Rajasthan -- is this fair," Bainsla said in his speeches throughout the agitation.
It is well known for popular movements to consume their own heroes first. The Gujjar community is now accusing Bainsla of a sellout, of being too soft. His earlier qualification for representing them -- his fluency in the language and his professional status -- has laid him open to accusations of being a collaborator.
With his flaming red turban, Bainsla has now become a target for the belied aspirations of the Gujjar community who feel shortchanged by the Rajasthan government. And this time they have only their leaders to blame.
Bainsla, for his part, remains unmoved. "The agreement is fair and I shall convince the Gujjar community about it," he said. If not, it could be back to blocked highways and violent times.