Gujjars demand 5% quota in public sector jobs, block rail tracks
Members of the pastoralist Gujjar community stopped trains in Rajasthan on Friday, vowing not to clear the tracks till the state government agrees to their demand of a 5% quota in public sector jobs.
Hundreds of protesters squatted on the Delhi-Mumbai railroad at Peelu Ka Pura village in Bharatpur district for the second consecutive day, severely hitting road and train traffic in the area, though the BJP government invited them to hold talks.
"We stick to our demand of 5% reservation within the provision of 50% reservation," said Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla. "Let the government come for an interaction, because we are ready for discussions."
At least 72 people have been killed since 2007 when the Gujjars, who comprise 7% of the state's population, launched a protest demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Accusing the state government of being apathetic towards the community, protester Sohan Lal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.
"The whole community voted for Modi with the hope that when in power his government would consider us for reservation," he said.
The district administration imposed prohibitory orders in and around the area but protesters in their hundreds continued to congregate, braving 45 degree temperatures.
"Our own brethren come seeking votes during elections and promise all help over the reservation issue. But after winning, they hide behind the walls of their official residences and take sides with the government," said former army man Jagram Singh. "We have sacrificed 72 people and are ready to sacrifice 72,000 more."