An amicable solution to the Gujjar agitation could be in sight with further talks between representatives of the community, demanding five percent quota in government jobs, and the Rajasthan government expected on Friday afternoon.
"We have decided to send a 21-member delegation to Jaipur to hold further talks with the state government officials," Roop Singh, spokesperson of Gujjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, the body that is spearheading the agitation, told IANS.
Talks are likely to be held sometime late in the afternoon.
Roop Singh said the talks in Karwade in Bharatpur district on Thursday between a Gujjar delegation and state government representatives were positive and cordial.
"We were satisfied with the government's viewpoint on several issues, including taking back cases against Gujjars and providing compensation to the family members of Gujjars killed in police firing. But the five percent reservation issue is yet to be resolved," he said.
Said GS Sandhu, Rajasthan government's principal secretary for urban development: "The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere. We are optimistic that soon an amicable solution would be reached."
Sandhu, who is also looking after the home department, is a member of the state government delegation deputed to hold talks with the Gujjars.
"We have conveyed to the delegation that the government is committed to provide them 5% reservation, but in the light of the high court judgment it would have to go through the legal process," he said.
He also described as "positive" the talks in Karwade village.
The government had earlier communicated to the Gujjars that the high court had given it a year's time but it "wished to finish the task as early as possible".
"The government is already giving 1% reservation and keeping aside 4% for them [Gujjars]," an official said.
As efforts were made to break the impasse, the Gujjars continued with their agitation that started Dec 20.
Train services between Delhi and Mumbai remained affected Friday morning as the protesters continued to squat on the railway tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district, about 150 km from state capital Jaipur.
Gujjars decided on a rail blockade Dec 20, after holding a mahapanchayat (community conclave) in Bayana. Hundreds of protesters squatted on the rail tracks in Piloo Ka Pura, forcing the railways to divert or cancel a few trains.
However, Gujjars late Wednesday evening lifted their siege from some of the sectors, including Jaipur-Delhi and Jaipur-Agra rail routes.
In July 2009, the Rajasthan government announced 5% reservation for Gujjars and 14% for the economically backward classes, taking the total reservation in the state for various sections of society to 68%.
Since the total reservation had exceeded the Supreme Court cap of 50%, the high court in October 2009 stayed the quota in jobs and educational institutions in the state for Gujjars and the economically backward classes.
In a ruling Dec 22, 2010, the high court struck down the job quota for Gujjars.
Gujjars, demanding reservation for better educational and job prospects, had between 2006 and 2008 staged violent protests, in which many lives were lost.