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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Gujjars quota stir : Rajasthan minister assures solution on Wednesday

Protesters from the Gujjar community have been camping on the railway tracks near Malarna Dungar railway station in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur, demanding five per cent reservation in education and jobs.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2019 12:02 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times, Maksudanpura (Sawai Madhopur)
Gujjar protesters, demanding quota in education and jobs,  camping on rail tracks at Maksudanpura, near Malarna Dungar railway station, in Sawai madhopur on Monday 11 February 2019.
Gujjar protesters, demanding quota in education and jobs, camping on rail tracks at Maksudanpura, near Malarna Dungar railway station, in Sawai madhopur on Monday 11 February 2019. (HImanshu Yyas / HT Photo )
         

While the young from the Gujjar community were busy on social media or clicking selfies, the seniors were either engaged in discussing mythological tales or news related to reservation agitation at railway tracks at Maksudanpur village near Malarna Dungar railway station in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur.

Meanwhile, state sports minister Ashok Chandna said the government is serious over the Gujjar reservation issue. “On Wednesday a big solution to the problem will be brought in assembly. We are hopeful that the issue will be resolved tomorrow and roads and tracks cleared,” he said.

For the Gujjar activists who are camping on the railway tracks for the last five days, it’s no more about ‘how’ they will get 5% reservation but that ‘now’ is the time. “We will vote only for those who give us reservation - this fight is for the community’s development,” said Umra Singh Gujjar, a protester. The scene at the railway tracks near Maksudanpur village looks no less than a movie set with 82-year-old president of the Gujjar Aarkshan Sangarsh Samiti Colonel Kirodi Singh Bainsla sitting on a wooden takhat (wooden bench) in the middle of the tracks under a tent and holding discussions with his close aides, while cameras lined up to get his interview on the updates.

“Hum se sikho, kathor waqt mein kaise jiya jata hai (we know how to survive in difficult times),” he said; after evening meals, others including his son Vijay Bainsla get busy singing and dancing on folk songs including one improvised on Col. Bainsla himself. It is set to the tunes of Rasiya, a traditional way of singing songs remembering community leaders -- ‘Colonel Bainsla ka faisla ab patri par hoga’ (Colonel Bainsla decision, now will be on tracks).

While the women roll out chapatis near the tracks and volunteers serve bundi (a sweet dish) heaped in a tractor, Bainsla continued, “We were and still are demanding reservation and this time are more determined. No dialogue will be there unless the reservation is brought here in writing.”

As the sun and mercury goes down, the tracks near Malarna Dungar railway station are filled with hukkah smoke from a makeshift storage tent filled with supplies ranging from beddings to batteries for loud speakers and ration.

“We are told that reservation cannot be given beyond 50%; then how this 10% (for economically weaker sections in general category) given? ” asked Ram krishna, an activist.

On CM Ashok Gehlot’s statement that the Centre will decide on the reservation, he said, “We know MLAs, CM and the state government; they should talk to the PM. We are fighting here, they should talk there.”

After a daylong sit-in on the tracks, Gujjar leader Bainsla leaves late night for an undisclosed location to return in the morning, while his close aides hold the guard.

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 12:01 IST