Gujjar fire spreads, toll now 33
Seventeen more Gujjar protesters fell to police bullets as their fiery battle for ST status entered day 3 and spread to new districts of Rajastha reports K.S. Tomar.jaipur Updated: May 25, 2008 01:51 IST
Seventeen more Gujjar protesters fell to police bullets as their fiery battle for ST status entered day 3 and spread to new districts of Rajasthan. Officially, 33 Gujjars are now dead in the agitation, though their leaders are claiming a loss of 41 lives, 21 of them including five women on Saturday alone.
Violent protests exploded in Kishangarh, Bhiwadi, Kotputali, Bundi, Jhalawar and Kota. At Sikandra in Dausa district, a mob attacked a thana and set fire to vehicles, provoking the police to shoot. Fifteen Gujjars and an RAF head constable had been killed in clashes near Bharatpur on Friday.
Agitators ripped off tracks and hacked down signalling pillars on Saturday, forcing the railways to divert 11 trains. The Marudhar and Bareilly Expresses were held up at Bandikui and Arnia stations. National highways were blocked at Behror, Bandikui and Jhalawar, cutting off large parts of the state.
As both Jaipur and Delhi held their breaths, Rajasthan invited Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bhainsala for peace talks. State home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the government’s “doors are open for dialogue”. There had been no response from Bhainsala till late evening.
With assembly polls due in six months, and pressure building up on Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the agitation looked set to dominate the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting in Delhi on Sunday.