Internet suspended, section 144 imposed in four Rajasthan districts after violent protests
The protesters demanded filling of 1,167 unreserved posts of government teachers with ST candidates.
Internet was suspended in four tribal districts of southern Rajasthan on Saturday and section 144 was imposed, prohibiting assembly of more than five people, following violent protests in Dungarpur district by tribal youth over teacher recruitment examination.
On Thursday, hundreds of tribal youths blocked national highway No. 8 in Dungarpur before setting vehicles on fire and injuring several policemen. The protesters demanded filling of 1,167 unreserved posts of government teachers with ST candidates.
In the last three days, six trucks, five buses, four police vehicles, nine cars, nine tempos and one motorcycle have been torched. More than 1,000 rubber bullets were fired to bring the situation under control.
As tension continued in Dungarpur, three neighbouring districts, Udaipur, Banswara and Pratapgarh, suspended internet in selected areas and imposed prohibitory orders on Saturday.
A stretch of the national highway is still under the control of the tribal youths.
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Udaipur Range Inspector General Binita Thakur said a control room had been set up at the Kherwara police station where seven Indian Police Service (IPS) officers are camping to keep the situation under control. These officers are Thakur, ATS DIG Anshuman Bhomia, Jaipur Rural SP Shankar Dutt Sharma, Jodhpur DCP headquarters Kaluram Rawat, Chittorgarh SP Deepak Bhargav, Udaipur SP Kailash Bishnoi and Dungarpur SP Jai Yadav.
“So far around 550 people have been booked and 34 persons have been arrested,” said Thakur. Also, 5,000 policemen have been deployed in tribal areas of Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Banswara and Dungarpur districts.
She said between the midnight of Friday and early Saturday morning, eight trucks were torched in Kakra Doongri area on the national highway. Protesters also vandalised some shops.
In Udaipur, district collector Chetan Deora imposed section 144 to prohibit any unlawful assembly. The order is applicable in all revenue borders of the district, he said. “Strict action will also be taken against the individuals who spread provocatory messages on social media,” the order read. Internet services have been suspended in Rishabhdeo and Kherwara areas of the district.
In Banswara, district collector Ankit Kumar Singh said in an order that this has been done as the tension continued to prevail for the third consecutive day in Dungarpur. Internet services have been also banned in the entire district other than Choti Sarwan and Banswara city.
In Pratapgarh district also section 144 has been imposed and internet service has been suspended in Arnod, Peepalkhoont and Dhariyawad towns.
Following the vandalism on early Saturday morning, some businessmen and traders staged a protest outside Kherwara police station and blamed the government for being a mute spectator to violence.
Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLA from Chorasi (Dungarpur) Rajkumar Roat said peaceful protest was going on for the last 18 days. The government also scheduled a meeting on September 14 with the protesters but called it off later. The meeting was rescheduled on September 24 but was cancelled again. “People became aggressive after the meeting was cancelled the second time,” he said.
Around 30 percent of the people came down to the highway but the police charged towards them; then the rest joined as well. He said arson and stone-pelting took place, unfortunately, both police and youth worked similarly.
The police set fire to their bikes and even barged into houses from Bicchiwada to Kherwada and damaged properties, the MLA said.
“The BTP submitted the demand for filling the vacant posts and the CM had agreed when we extended our support in Rajya Sabha polls. This agitation is going since December 2019. The government should not have taken it lightly. Whatever happened is unfortunate,” he said.
Meanwhile, a meeting was held between the representatives of government, tribal leaders of the regions and representatives of the candidates at Parsad village in Udaipur district which went inconclusive. The meeting started at around 4 pm and concluded around 6 pm.
While the meeting was on, six vehicles were torched by the protestors in Kherwara because of which Udaipur district collector Chetan Deora and Udaipur divisional commissioner Vikas Bhale had to leave the meeting in between, an official said.
During the meeting, SC/ST development minister Arjun Singh Bamaniya, state youth Congress president Ganesh Gogra, member of working committee of CWC Raghuveer Singh Meena, BTP Leader Rajkumar Roat, Sagwara MLA Ramprasad Dindore, Kanti Bhai Roat of BTP, 10 candidates and few Congress activists and BTP party workers were present in the meeting.