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Gujjars to get 5 per cent quota in Rajasthan
June 18, 2008 19:25 IST
Last Updated: June 18, 2008 20:49 IST
The Rajasthan government on Wednesday announced a five per cent reservation for Gujjars under a "special, separate backward class" category sealing an agreement with the community and ending the nearly month-long agitation by its members demanding Scheduled Tribe status.
Apparently as a balancing act ahead of assembly polls later this year, the Rajasthan government also announced 14 per cent reservation for "poor among upper castes" including Bramhins, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Kayasthas.
Addressing a joint press conference with Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla in Jaipur, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje announced five per cent quota for Gujjars as also Rebaris and Banjaras.
Apparently keeping in mind the sensitivities of the influential Meena community, which enjoys the ST status in the state, she sought to allay apprehensions about the impact of the quota for Gujjars on the present reservation system.
"This quota would not have any adverse effect on the present reservation system in the state," she said adding, "there is a necessity to give special support to some sections."
Expressing gratitude to Raje and giving her all credit for ending the stalemate, Bainsla said that in view of Wednesday's announcement the Gujjar agitation would be called off after he reaches Pilupura in Bharatpur, the nerve centre of the agitation.
"We hope there will be no need for any more agitation on the issue", he said.
Earlier, the formal announcement of the agreement between the two sides, which was slated for morning, was delayed by a few hours apparently due to some last-minute glitches.
The 27-day Gujjar agitation, which witnessed largescale violence, claimed 43 lives in police firing in Rajasthan and Haryana.
Soon after resolving the Gujjar issue, Raje addressed a separate press meet announcing reservation for economically poor among upper castes, based on a report submitted on Wednesday by the Economically Backward Classes Commission.
The speed with which the commission report was accepted by the government underlines the Bharatiya Janata Party's anxiety to ward off possible backlash by upper castes, perceived to be the party traditional vote bank, to reservation for Gujjars.
At the same time, the chief minister assured other castes that EBC's recommendations would not affect the existing quota categories of SC/ST/OBC.
The state EBC Chairman Justice Shashi Kant Sharma and his two colleagues Ashutosh Gupta and Mahesh Tanwar submitted the report to the government on Wednesday, Raje said.
A cabinet meeting would take up the report on Thursday and consider its implementation in the state at the earliest, she added.
The state EBC commission was set up on the pattern of the Central EBC to cover poor people of upper caste and who were deprived of their educational and professoinal rights, Raje said.
In the past, almost every political party promised reservation for poor among upper castes, but it was never fulfilled, she said.
The Rajasthan government also a relief package for the Gujjar community including Rs.5 lakh cash ex gratia each to the next of the kin of those killed in police firing and violence.
Besides cash, one dependent of the deceased would be given a government job, an official release said, adding the seriously injured person would be paid Rs 1 lakh while persons with simple injuries would be given up to Rs 25,000.
The state government also assured the Rajasthan Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Saimit that the legality of the demand for withdrawal of criminal cases filed againt those during the agitation would be examined on merit.
The Gujjar delegation, in turn, also assured the state government that it would not raise any other demand and it would not support any other Gujjar faction's movement and agitation in future.
About 35 Gujjar leaders, four state ministers K L Gujjar, Nathu Singh Gujjar, L N Dave, S M Jat, and state BJP president Om Prakash Mathur and senior party leader Ram Das Agarwal were signatories to the agreement between the two sides.