The Rajasthan high court on Wednesday pulled up the state administration for having given a “free hand” to Gujjar agitators and ordered restoration of traffic within 24 hours on the road and rail routes blocked by them.
Directing the state’s top bureaucrat and police chief to appear before it in a day, a single judge bench of justice RS Rathore said, “We would like to hear from the state chief secretary and director general of police what the administration did in the last few days to remove the rail and road blockade and why the agitators were given a free hand to take the law in their own hands.”
The interim order, which also directed the police to stop any illegal assembly in Bharatpur and other areas affected by the stir, came on a contempt petition pending since 2008 against Gujjar leaders including Kirori S Bainsla, who is leading the agitation, for allegedly violating an order of the high court to maintain peace.
At least 72 people have been killed since 2007 when members of the traditionally pastoralist community, who comprise 7% of the state’s population, launched a protest demanding 5% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Even as talks between a 13-member Gujjar delegation and government representatives resumed on Wednesday after an inconclusive round until Tuesday night, blockades continued on the Delhi-Mumbai rail track in Bharatpur, the Agra-Jaipur national highway in Dausa and a state highway in Sawaimadhopur on the seventh day of the agitation.