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Sri Sri gets Gujjars to agree for talks on Wednesday
June 11, 2008 00:33 IST
In a dramatic turn of events -- apparently due to mediation by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar -- Gujjars late Tuesday evening agreed to attend the second round of talks with Rajasthan government in Jaipur on Wednesday.
Coverage: Caste Conflict in Rajasthan
Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, spearheading the community's agitation for ST status, has conveyed his readiness to resume the talks on Wednesday, officials in the office of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said late Tuesday evening.
Rajasthan government promptly welcomed the development.
The breakthrough in the stalemate over the future of the talks came after Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stepped in as a mediator meeting Raje in Jaipur and Bainsla at Karwadi-Pilupura, the nerve centre of Gujjar agitation for the last 19 days.
The spiritual leader first met Raje and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, the party's prominent OBC face, and then held an over hour-long meeting with Bainsla.
The spiritual leader came into the picture at a time when talks between the two sides had hit new roadblocks as Gujjars came up with fresh preconditions for continuing the exercise.
On the other hand, Rajasthan government sent mixed signals sending a letter to Bainsla to send a delegation for talks and at the same time filing criminal cases against him and some other top Gujjar leaders for allegedly making inflammatory speeches.
Emerging from the meeting with Bainsla, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said: "There was a lot of mistrust between the state government and the Gujjars. Some mistakes had been made in the past, but it's time to leave that behind and make a new beginning."
He said he had conveyed to the two sides that only negotiations can bring about a solution.
The spiritual leader said he had told the Gujjars that they should accept whatever immediate benefits they get and then work on their long-term objective. "They should get justice," he added.
Earlier in the day, Bainsla, heading Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, made the release of arrested women Gujjar activists and withdrawal of murder charge against 20 protesters conditional for the talks to move forward.
A senior Rajasthan government official accused Bainsla of going back on his written commitment given in Bayana on Monday, when the first round of discussions between Gujjars and the government took place, about holding of the next round of negotiations.
However, still hoping to continue to engage the Gujjars in talks, the state government sent a letter to Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, spearheading the agitation for ST status, on Tuesday afternoon asking him to send a delegation for further talks.
The fresh letter to Bainsla was sent after deliberations by the Vasundhara Raje government based on the feedback provided by ministers L N Dave and S M Jat, who attended Monday's talks with a 37-member Gujjar delegation at Bayana, an official said in Jaipur.