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Gujjar-Rajasthan government talks hit roadblock

Last updated on: June 10, 2008 16:10 IST

Efforts by the Rajasthan government to end the 18-day-old Gujjar stir ran into rough weather on Tuesday, with the community leadership making fresh demands for the release of arrested women activists and withdrawal of murder charges against 20 protestors, as pre-condition for further talks.

Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, who had termed the first round of parleys on Monday as a good beginning, has made the two demands a pre-condition for the talks, which were to be held in Jaipur, a senior state government official told PTI.

He said that the written commitment given by 70-year-old Bainsla in Bayana on Monday, about holding the next round of talks, has been retracted.

"However, we are making all efforts from our side to revive the dialogue process," the official said.

Bainsla, a retired army colonel, had told reporters on Monday in Karwadi-Pilupura area, a hotbed of the Gujjar stir for Scheduled Tribe status, that the preliminary round of talks with Rajasthan government officials was "held in a very cordial atmosphere. It is a good beginning".

He had also said that the Gujjars have been assured that the arrested protesters, including women and the injured taken into custody, will be freed, water and electricity supply restored and telecommunication jammers removed from Karwadi area, where the agitation started on May 23.

Referring to the demands made by the Gujjar leadership, the state government official said, "We are trying to convince Bainsla that the women cannot be released since they have been arrested under the Railway Act for damaging public property and uprooting tracks and that these offences were non-bailable".

He further said that Bainsla was being told that the government has no power to give any directive to free those arrested since they were in judicial custody and that bail applications have to be moved for their release.

"From our side, we are making all efforts for resumption of the next round of talks by impressing upon Bainsla that he should honour his own commitment, given in writing to the government after the preliminary talks at Bayana, that he was prepared to hold the next round of talks at Jaipur," the official said.

As many as 20 Gujjar protesters were arrested on June 8 on charges of murder in the wake of clashes with police and are currently in judicial custody till June 25. They include 15 injured activists, who were taken into custody after their release from Sawai Mansingh Hospital in Jaipur.

Replying to queries on the preliminary talks on Monday, the official said during the course of the parleys, the Gujjar delegation had raised the issue of the release of the arrested people but the government had expressed its inability to give any direction in view of the legal position.

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