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And stocked for siege

india Updated: Jun 03, 2007 01:29 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan

Thousands of Gujjar families here are working round-the-clock to sustain their agitation for a Schedule Tribe status.

Community elders coordinate strategy as they feed thousands of Gujjars who have come from far off places like Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Gurgaon and Uttar Pradesh to support the cause.

Each of the women cooks for at least 10 families daily. More support comes from their clansmen staying around Sikandra Chowk, a Gujjar stronghold on the Jaipur-Agra highway, which has around 200 villages.

Sikandra is 20 km from Patoli, the epicenter of the agitation, where around a lakh Gujjars have been blocking the Jaipur-Agra highway for the last four days.

“We have congregated in Patoli from all over the country," said Colonel (retired) KS Bainsla of the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, which is leading the agitation.

"Specific work has been allotted to each person. Half of us work in the morning and the rest in the evening," said Rajesh Gujjar, 65, a village head near Sikandra.

Water tankers are also deployed in strength in the scorching weather.. "We transport the food on tractors with carts. We are sleeping on the road but will not budge till our demands are met," he said.

Apart from the food, Gujjars are also donating huge amounts to keep the movement going. “We have a committee, which puts the money to the best possible use for those of us camping on the road," said Nathu Singh Gujjar.

"We are happy to play a role in a movement, which will benefit the entire community. This is a pilgrimage for us," said Ramwati Gujjar.