The Rajasthan government on Wednesday signed a historic agreement with the agitating Gujjars. The Raje government promised to provide five per cent reservation in the state to a fresh, separate category of backward classes which would include the Gujjars. The Gujjars in turn will call off their 27 day agitation for inclusion in the scheduled tribe category, on Thursday.
<b1>The government also pledged in the agreement, signed by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsala (retd), to recommend to the centre that Gujjars be included in the list of scheduled tribes for reservation in central services. The Gujjars are presently in the OBC list.
The new backward class category being created will include semi nomadic groups like the Banjaras and Rewadis. With groups like the Meenas having strongly opposed the Gujjar demand, the government was anxious to clarify that the existing reservation quotas in the state would remain untouched.
With an eye on the assembly polls, Raje announced another 14 per cent reservation for the poor among nine forward castes and sects, including Brahmins and Bohra Muslims. With this the quantum of reservation in Rajasthan rises from 49 per cent to 68 per cent. With the Supreme Court having specified 50 per cent as the upper limit for reservations, it is a moot point whether the fresh ones announced will stand judicial scrutiny.
The government also agreed to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of the 38 people killed in the agitation, as well as to provide a government job to one family member. It promised to withdraw cases filed against agitators, subject to judicial sanction.
Both the chief minister and Bainsala refused to elaborate on the contents of the letter seeking scheduled caste status for the Gujjars that would be sent to the centre. “The details will be worked out with mutual consent,” said Bainsla.
The day was marked by high drama as sharp differences cropped up between the two sides over the draft of the agreement. The chief minister’s press conference to announce the resolution of the Gujjar stir, scheduled for the morning, was postponed by several hours, as harried officials negotiated furiously. Even so, only five of the 11 member Gujjar delegation which participated in the talks, ultimately put their signatures on the document.