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Gujjar protests: 14 killed in police firing
May 23, 2008 14:49 IST
Last Updated: May 24, 2008 00:06 IST
At least 15 people, including a policeman, were on Friday killed in police firing and clashes between members of Gujjar community demanding Scheduled Caste status for them and cops at Bayana in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district, after which the Army was deployed in the area.
The police opened fire when the protestors torched two police jeeps and attacked and clashed with them in Karwar area in Bayana block of the district while a policeman was lynched by the mob.
The mob pelted stones and did not disperse even after police lobbed teargas shells, principal home secretary V S Singh said in Jaipur.
The clashes broke out as protesters gathered on Friday at Dumariya in support of a 'rail roko' call given by Rajasthan Gurjar Arakashan Sangarsh Samiti leader Bainsla to press for granting them Scheduled Caste status to Gujjars.
Ten columns of army (about 2,000 troops), about 200 additional Rapid Action Force (RAF) and 300 CRPF personnel were called out for deployment in the violence-hit area to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order, a release said.
The Rajasthan government ordered a judicial probe into the police firing.
Four companies of RAF were already deployed in sensitive areas of Bharatpur, the release said.
The protestors began a dharna on the railway track on Songar bridge near Dumaria railway station while the police force was guarding the track, the SP, who is monitoring the situation since morning, said.
Once the police and Rapid Action Force personnel withdrew from the scene of violence, the Gujjar protestors uprooted rail track along a three km length.
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said police first lobbed tear gas shells, fired 80 rubber bullets and then opened fire in air to disperse thousands of protestors who pelted stones and lynched policeman Bhola Ram.
"The situation is tense there", Kataria said.
A group of Gujjar youths also attempted to stop traffic by putting up blockades on Jaipur-Bikaner highway near Sikar, about 250 km from here, police said, adding the protesters were dispersed and the blockades removed.
This violence came a week ahead of the first anniversary of the police firing on Gujjar agitators in the state and subsequent violence that claimed 26 lives.
Concerned over Gujjar violence in Rajasthan, the Centre asked neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and the national capital, which have a sizable Gujjar population, to maintain a strict vigil to prevent any backlash of the incidents in Bharatpur.
The Centre also sent nearly 700 personnel of Rapid Action Force and CRPF to Bharatpur district.
Bainsla, against whom an arrest warrant has been issued by district authorities in Karauli, has gone into hiding, official sources said.