Rajasthan, beset by caste violence, was calm on Sunday morning as the agitating Gujjar community leaders tried to work out their future course of action.
After the talks between the Rajasthan government and Gujjar leaders on Saturday remained inconclusive, the Gujjars have finally decided to cremate those killed in May 29 police firing in Patauli near Dausa. Gujjars have been sitting with the dead bodies of six persons killed in firing since May 29.
"We are really unhappy with the attitude of the government", Roop Singh, a Gujjar leader said. "We came here for talks with an open mind, but government is not ready to accept our demands on granting us tribal status", Singh said Saturday.
Meanwhile, Colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla has agreed to take participation in fifth round of talks to be held later on Sunday, sources close to Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti said.
"Since Friday evening no major incident of violence has been reported from any part of Rajasthan (a major destination for tourists because of its rich historical and cultural heritage) except for Jaipur-Agra national highway, all major highways have become operational", a senior state government official said.
The Jaipur-Agra national highway is a part of the tourist Golden Triangle that links the Taj Mahal with the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) in Jaipur.
A seven-hour marathon meeting between Gujjar leaders and Rajasthan's Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Saturday had remained "inconclusive" However, after the meeting, the chief minister had said that the talks on the reservation issue would continue.
Raje has also invited Colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla, convenor and main leader of the Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti, the body that is spearheading the agitation, to attend the meeting on Sunday. "The end to this problem can only come through peaceful means and talks", Raje said. Sounding optimistic she said that a solution to the problem would be found out soon.
She also announced Rs 500,000 as relief for the family of those killed in firing. "The injured would be provided suitable and necessary assistance", she added.
The trouble started on Tuesday when a road blockade announced by the Gujjars, to press for their demand for Scheduled Tribe status, took a violent turn during which 14 people were killed in clashes between agitators and police. Since the start of the agitation on May 29, at least 25 people were reported to be killed in clashes.
In spite of a surface calm, an ugly caste conflict looms large in Rajasthan with reports of scuffles coming in between Gujjars and Meenas clashing over the quota pie given to Scheduled Tribes. The Meena community is the dominant Scheduled Tribe community in the state.
On Friday, five people were killed and 20 injured in clashes between the two groups in Rajasthan's Dausa and Karauli districts, taking the death toll to 25 since the Gujjar fury erupted May 29, officials said. The trouble started Friday when the Meenas tried to remove roadblocks put up by the Gujjars in Dausa.
Intervention by the police and army averted further clashes between the two communities. To make problems worse for the state government, Meena community has threatened to take out a rally on Jaipur-Agra national highway upto Patauli.
Looking at the volatile situation, the state government Saturday imposed National Security Act (NSA) in 11 of the troubled districts, including Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli, Tonk, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Bundi, Kota, Baran, Jhalawar and Ajmer.
The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 permits detention of persons considered security risks. Police may detain suspects under NSA provisions. Under these provisions the authorities may detain a suspect without charge or trial as long as one year on security grounds The Gujjar movement demanding affirmative action, which they feel will improve their economic status, has paralysed rail and road traffic in many parts of Rajasthan.
Hundreds have been stranded at railway stations and bus depots as the Gujjars continue to block highways leading mainly to Agra. The government said the Jaipur-Delhi highway had been cleared but people are not willing to take the highway.