Train services between Delhi and Mumbai were hit as Gujjars, demanding reservation for the community in government jobs, laid siege to a railway track near Bayana in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
Gujjars under the leadership of Colonel K S Bainsla, convener of Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, after holding a Mahapanchayat in Bayana, about 150 km from the state capital Jaipur, Monday decided on the rail blockade. Following the decision, hundreds protested at the railway track in Piloo Ka Pura forcing the railways to divert and cancel a few of its trains.
"We after considering the situation have stopped train movement in the area due to security reasons," a senior railway official said.
He said the worst affected were the services on the Delhi-Mumbai route with close to 22 trains getting affected. A couple of trains have also been cancelled, he added.
One passenger train running between the Jaipur-Bayana sector has been short terminated at Gangapur, he added.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded on Tuesday as the movement of trains between Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan's Bharatpur.
"The protesters have been sitting on the railway track at Piloo ka Pura near Bharatpur and trains had to be diverted. The passengers were stranded in Mathura, Agra and Bharatpur," a rail official said.
Half a dozen trains, including the Rajdhani Express, were diverted through Agra Cantonment railway station to avoid Bharatpur Monday evening. Reports also said the tracks were damaged.
Over 15,000 Gujjars began their agitation on Monday.
Bainsla said that the community would continue their protest till their demand on reservation is met.
"We would continue to hold a peaceful protest across the state till the state government fulfils our demands for five percent reservation, withdrawal of cases against Gujjar agitators and their release from jail," Bainsla said.
Flaying the state government, he said the government has been dilly-dallying over the issue for too long.
"We strongly criticise Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's recent announcement that the government will go ahead with recruitment before the quota issue for Gujjars is settled," Bainsla said.
The state government has warned that strong action would be taken against people indulging in damage of government property. Late at night, Gehlot reviewed the situation with the director general of police, chief secretary and the home minister.
In July 2009, the Rajasthan government had announced five percent reservation for Gujjars and 14% for economically backward classes taking the total reservations for various sections of society to 68% in the state.
The Rajasthan High Court in October 2009 had stayed the quota in jobs and educational institutions in the state for Gujjars and economically backward classes as the reservation ceiling had exceeded the cap of 50%.
Gujjars demanding reservation for better educational and job prospects earlier between 2006 and 2008 staged violent protests in which many lives were lost.