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Gujjars, Rajasthan goverment reach agreement
June 17, 2008 23:26 IST
Last Updated: June 17, 2008 23:35 IST
The 26-day-old agitation by Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status is set to be called off on Wednesday as the community on Tuesday night reached an agreement with Rajasthan government in the final rounds of talks in Jaipur.
The agreement will be signed on Wednesday by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, spearheading the stir, in Jaipur on Wednesday.
The brealthrough in the stalemate between the two sides was reached during a nine-hour final round of talks between the Gujjar delegation led by Bainsla and the Rajasthan government team led by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Das Agarwal.
Emerging from the talks, Bainsla, who led an 11-member community delegation, told reporters, "This is a historic success."
Asked whether the agitation would end on Tuesday, Bainsla and his colleague Hariprarsad Gujjar said, "It will be announced after the agreement is announced tomorrow."
Addressing the joint press conference, Agarwal said, "It was a matter of great pride and happiness that the final round of talks was fruitful. The agreement arrived between the Gujjars and the government on ST status would be announced by Raje at 11.30 am tomorrow."
"The agreement is not meant for any caste or community. This is for the five crore people of the state," he added.
Although there was no official word from either side as to how the breakthrough was reached, sources said that under the compromise worked out the state government would recommend four per cent reservation for Gujjars under the denotified nomadic tribe category.
Regarding the Gujjars' demand for ST status, the two sides may refer to a 1999 letter from the Union government suggesting the community could be adjusted to the ST cateogory.
However, the state government could take a cue from the report of the Chopra committee set up by it to consider the ST status demand by Gujjars, who now enjoy OBC status, and ask the Centre to relax the rules for bringing the community into the ST category.
Bainsla, for his part, said, "I thank the Gujjar community for coming along with me to resolve the long-pending demand. I am grateful to the chief minister and the media."
The Gujjars began their agitation at the Karwadi-Pilupura area of Bhararpur district on May 23 blocking movement of trains between Delhi and Jaipur.
The agitation, which claimed 43 lives in police firing in Rajasthan and Haryana, had turned violent on day one when 14 people were killed in police firing and a policeman was lynched by the Gujjars at Karwadi-Pilupura, which remained the nerve-centre of the movement.
The agitation later spread to other parts of Rajasthan, including Dausa, Swai Madhopur and parts of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu.
Prior to the final round of talks on Tuesday, the two sides had held four meetings but Raje took part in none.