Reviving their demand for five per cent reservation in jobs, Gujjars in Rajasthan on Thursday launched an agitation, blocking railway tracks, even as the state government expressed readiness to have talks with them.
The demonstrators sat on a dharna on railway tracks blocking the Delhi-Mumbai tracks near Pilukapura in Bharatpur, police said.
Six trains were affected on the route and alternate arrangements were made, a railway official said.
The community, which had undertaken a major agitation over the issue in 2008, re-launched it under the leadership of Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla.
Bainsla, along with other community members had launched a 'Nyay Yatra' on May 11 covering areas like Karauli and Dausa which culminated in Bharatpur today after which the decision was taken to launch the 'Mahapadav'.
Bainsla addressed the community members in a village in Bharaptur after which the decision to start the agitation was taken, said Himmat Singh, the spokesperson of the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti.
"Our members have blocked railway tracks and the agitation will be called off only after the demands are met.
"The government has betrayed us on this issue and it is for the government to find out a way to provide us five per cent reservation within the legal limit of 50 per cent," he said.
Nearly 2,000 people have gathered on the tracks, about 40 km from the district headquarters, police said.
Police has been deployed in strength in the area to maintain law and order.
Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria the matter was subjudice and the community members should understand this.
"We have already said that the doors of the government are always open for talks. If they want to talk to the government, we are open for it," he said.
Meanwhile, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said that the Gujjar leaders should hold talks with the government peacefully without indulging in violence.
Gujjars had earlier launched several agitations to press for their demands of reservation since 2008. After agitations and legal battle, they got one per cent reservation within 50 per cent limit and the issue of remaining four per cent was pending.
Image: Gujjar community people agitating to demand reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for their community on Delhi-Mumbai railway track near Bayana village.
Photograph: PTI Photo