Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, spearhading an agitation to press for ST status for his community, on Thursday suggested it was time to exclude some castes which have already benefitted from quota and include new ones that "deserve and require" it.
Acknowledging that the quota space itself was getting increasingly crowded and keeping in mind the court ruling that reservation cannot exceed 49 per cent, Bainsla told reporters here that the "entire reservation system needs a relook".
He said no review had so far taken place about the extent of benefit to castes enjoying the reservation. Such an exercise should be undertaken to exclude castes which have benefitted by it and bring in its purview those castes which "deserve and require" quota, the Gujjar leader said.
"The best homage for the martyrs is that Gujjars get ST status. The Rajasthan government must send the correct recommendation to the Centre," said Bainsla who has already rejected Rajasthan government's suggestion for extending reservation to Gujjars under nomadic tribe status.
On the inconvenience caused by the Gujjars' agitation, he said, "I regret the inconvenience. We had no other option but to stay here till the ST stats recommendation is sent."
Asked where does the agitation go from here, Bainsla said, "We have paid the price. We have to stick to this place because we need this (ST status). We deserve this and we fulfil all parameters."
Meanwhile, at least two persons were on Thursday killed, one of them in police firing, and 14 policemen injured as stray violence marred the Gujjars agitation in Delhi and Haryana where normal life was badly disrupted by a rail and road blockade enforced by the community members, PTI adds from Chandigarh/New Delhi.
One person was killed when police opened fire on agitators who blocked traffic on national highway at Patti Kalyana in Panipat district of Haryana for hours while an elderly man died in the stampede triggered by the police action.
"An elderly fellow died in the stampede during the agitation while another who sustained bullet injury also died," Haryana's Additional Director General of Police (law and order) VB Singh, who visited the spot, told PTI over phone.
He said some agitators were carrying arms and they too opened fire.
Singh said about 14 policemen were injured, three of them seriously, in the skirmishes with the agitators. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda ordered a magisterial inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of the two persons. Police earlier fired tear gas shells and charged with batons at the agitators.
Hitting the streets in large numbers in support of the ongoing agitation by their community members in Rajasthan demanding Scheduled Tribe status, the Gujjar protestors set afire a Haryana Roadways bus in Panipat and blocked movement of rail and vehicles in the national capital.
In Delhi, police lobbed teargas to dispers stone-pelting Gujjars in Mehrauli area and incidents of violence also occurred at Aya Nagar, bordering Gurgaon.
Thousands of Gujjars took to the streets in the national capital and adjoining region, blocking roads and rail links to the city. Police took about 50 people into custody.
The protesters staged demonstrations across the capital and squatted on railway tracks, blocking trains reaching the capital.
Vehicular movement on major stretches leading to the metropolis like the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Expressway, Mathura Road connecting Faridabad and Delhi and Mehrauli-Gurgoan road was affected as protesters set-up blockades and burnt tyres.
Anticipating trouble, Railways cancelled ten trains, including Nizamuddin-Kochi, Maharashtra SamparKranti, Nizamuddin-Udaipur and Dehradun-Bandra Express.
More than 35,000 police personnel, including those from the central paramilitary forces, were deployed in Delhi and surrounding areas, particularly in Gujjar-dominated areas.
Rail traffic between Aligarh and Ghaziabad was affected as a large number of protesters blocked a train in Loni in adjoining Ghaziabad on Thursday morning.
The situation, however, returned to normalcy across the NCR by afternoon. However, tension continued at the village in Panipat where two persons were killed, prompting the authorities to deploy police in strength amidst fear that the situation may again turn volatile when the dead are cremated.
Responding to a call given by Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti, hundreds of Gujjars torched an effigy of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje in Sirsa and Panchkula and raised slogans against her government. Similar protests were held at many places in Gurgaon and Rewari districts.