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Home > India > News > PTI

Gujjars raise the pitch, Raje tosses ball to Centre

May 28, 2008 11:52 IST

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Rajasthan's caste conflict

As the Gujjar agitation seeking ST status entered the sixth day, the Rajasthan government today said the reservation should be done at the Central level and asked the community members to "use their wisdom".

"Now the entire proceedings of reservation should be done at the Centre level. The Gujjar community should take their initiatives to the Centre and use their wisdom," Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said.

She also appealed to the Gujjars to stop violence, understand the reservation procedure and come forward to settle the issue through dialogue.

In a full-page advertisement issued in leading newspapers, Raje sought to remind the people that lakhs of people have been stranded at different places in the state due to the agitation.

Acting tough, the Rajasthan Government has clamped National Security Act (NSA) in 15 violence-hit districts as the agitation, which showed no signs of ending, spread to several parts of the state and threatened to spill over to the National Capital Region (NCR).

With the agitating Gujjars planning a "complete NCR roko" on Thursday, the Union Home Ministry put the region on high alert to prevent stalling of trains. As many as 38 people have been killed and scores injured in police firing and violence since Friday last.

While the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has referred the issue of reservation sought for Gujjars by Raje to the Law Ministry, the Congress dismissed her recommendation saying it was "immature" and legally untenable.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil chaired a meeting with Special Secretary (Internal Security) M L Kumawat and Delhi Police chief Y S Dadwal and is understood to have later briefed the Prime Minister on the situation.

Official sources said since the Gujjar unrest has led to sporadic protests in the NCR region, the security establishment did not want to leave anything to chance.

Meanwhile, Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor has stated that more troops could be dispatched to Rajasthan if required by the state authorities to tackle the agitation. At present over 2,100 army personnel (eight columns) have been deployed in violence-hit areas here, in neighbouring Dausa and other affected regions.

The 15 districts where the stringent NSA, under which a person can be arrested without a warrant, has been clamped are Ajmer, Alwar, Baran, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Bundi, Dausa, Dholpur, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jhunjhunu, Karauli, Kota, Sawaimadhopur and Tonk.

Turning the heat on 70-year-old Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, the Rajasthan government is following up on cases of murder, arson and violence slapped against him.

Bainsla, a retired army colonel, has in his response to the Chief Minister's proposal on Gujjar reservation made it clear that there was no question of relenting on the community's demand for ST status, while terming her recommendation to the Centre as "farce".

With the agitation continuing, train and bus services to and from the state have been badly affected.

Giving a background to the Gujjar agitation, the advertisement by Raje mentioned about the Chopra Committee report and its recommendations and also stated that the last time the SC/ST list in the state was released in 1977.

The advertisement also referred to the situation arising out of the Gujjar agitation which started on May 23 and the present scenario with regard to ST reservation in the state.

It mentioned about the Rs 282-crore package which was announced in this year's state budget under the 'Dev Narayan Yojna'.

Raje also referred to Monday's letter which she had written to the Prime Minister recommending 4 to 6 per cent reservation for Gujjars in the category of denotified class of tribals/nomadic tribe.

It also said the state government has started the procedure of providing jobs to the next of the kin of Gujjar members who died in violence in May-June last year.

While bus services in several areas of Rajasthan besides inter-city routes have been hit by the agitation, a Northern railway spokesman has said that several trains have been stopped due to large scale disturbances in the Kota division.

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