An angry Gujjar community declared on Tuesday that it would relaunch its agitation next week after the three-member Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee rejected its demand for Scheduled Tribe status in its report submitted to the Rajasthan government. The panel noted that Gujjars “did not fulfil the criteria laid down by the Government of India” to attain ST status.
Gujjars had launched an agitation in May this year demanding ST status, which they hoped would improve their economic condition. About 26 people had died, buses were burnt and national highways were blocked before a peace agreement was signed between the community’s leaders and the Rajasthan government. As part of the deal, the Chopra committee was appointed to look into their demand for ST status.
Col. Kirori Singh Bainsala, who spearheaded the Gujjar agitation in May-June, said, “The Gujjars are feeling cheated and the agitation will be revived within one week after taking the approval of the mahapanchayats. The agitation was suspended on June 4, 2007, when an agreement was signed between the chief minister (Vasundhara Raje) and myself. We never withdrew the agitation.”
He added: “The report is not in accordance with the understanding given to us by the government that our demand will be accepted. We will study the report and seek legal opinion in this regard.” The Raje government, meanwhile, forwarded the 200-page report to the Centre without any recommendations. To soothe sentiments, the state government also decided to constitute a four-member cabinet sub-committee, headed by BJP MP Ramdas Agarwal, to work out a special package for Gujjars.
Adding insult to Gujjars’ injury, the report was welcomed by the rival Meena community, which already enjoys ST status.