The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan on Tuesday showed no signs of ending as their leader Kirori Singh Bainsala rejected a peace move by the chief minister and said his community would settle for nothing less than Scheduled Tribes status.
Bainsala dismissed as farce a letter by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for a special reservation for the Gujjars. The letter had recommended for Gujjars “4 to 6 per cent” reservations in government jobs under a separate new category of “de-notified class of tribals/nomadic tribes”.
Bainsala, whose Rajasthan Gujjars Arakashan Samiti is spearheading the agitation, said: “The letter is a farce as the Gujjars' basic demand is to get ST status. There should not be any ambiguity about it.” He said the letter was silent on their main demand, so the agitation would continue.
The five-day-old agitation, which has spread across the state and up to the borders of Delhi has claimed over 35 lives so far. The stir has badly affected the highway and rail traffic network in the state. Several train passing through Rajasthan have been either diverted or cancelled.
The Rajasthan High Court, meanwhile, has issued contempt notices to Bainsala and 13 other leaders on a writ petition by the state government on Monday. They have been directed to appear in the court on May 30.
The government’s petition said the Gujjar leaders had violated an earlier order of the court, passed on September 10 last year, which prohibited any assembly of individuals without the permission of the district collector.
Bainsala said: “I will definitely go to Jaipur on May 30 to appear in the high court provided the conditions permitted me. It will provide me an opportunity to present the case of my community before the judge.”
On May 23, Bainsala had organised a 'rail roko' in Bayana in Bharatpur district during which the protesters damaged railway tracks and clashed with police. This led to police firing that caused over 18 deaths. The protesters still have eight of the bodies with them, although there were indications late on Tuesday that they might agree to release the bodies for post mortem and cremation.
Meanwhile, more than 10 trains, mostly originating from Delhi, were cancelled by the Northern Railways on Tuesday in view of the agitation. Trains diverted the New Delhi-Mumbai-Rajdhani Express, Amritsar-Bandra Paschim Express, Jammu Tawi-Hapa Super Fast, Jammu Tawi-Mumbai Swaraj Express, Jamnagar-Jammu Tawi Superfast Express, Madgaon-Nizamuddin Goa Sampark Kranti and Nizamuddin-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express.