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Raje Govt, Gujjar leaders agree for talks

In a fresh initiative to break the deadlock over the Gujjar agitation for ST status, the Rajasthan government agrees to send its representatives to Bayana for preliminary talks with Gujjar leaders, reports KS Tomar.
Hindustan Times | By K.S.Tomar, Jaipur
UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2008 03:01 AM IST

In a fresh initiative to break the deadlock over the Gujjar agitation for ST status, the Rajasthan government on Sunday agreed to send its representatives to Bayana in Bharatpur district for preliminary talks with Gujjar leaders.

The Rajasthan government however placed three pre-conditions, one of them being that the main negotiations would be held in Jaipur later.

Chairman of the Rajasthan Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti K.S. Bansala said he would send his delegation to Jaipur only if the outcome of the preliminary talks is positive.

Senior officials said the state government would send a two-member delegation comprising of two ministers to hold talks with Gujjar leaders in Bayana.

They said, “Colonel Bainsala has been asked to reduce the size of his delegation from 45 to 11 members. They should be from the state and no outsider will be acceptable.”

Neither Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje nor Bainsala would participate in the preliminary discussions which may take place in Bayana on Monday.

Bainsala said, “We are ready to hold the first round of talks at Bayana but there will be no change in the names and number of our delegation as they belong to our community.”

The Rajasthan government’s representative and Principal Secretary S.N.Thanvi said, “The talks will start only if the Colonel accepts the state government’s pre-conditions about the venue of the main dialogue.”

Chief Minister Raje sent national BJP treasurer Ramdas Agarwal and state BJP chief Om Prakash Mathur to Bayana in a helicopter to give her a first-hand report about the intensity of movement and presence of the crowd at the site at Piloopura village.

Agarwal said, “We toured the area and discussed the issue with the officials at Bayana and the chief minister will be apprised of the ground realities which will contribute in finalising the strategy to tackle the agitation.”

Due to the inflexible stand taken by the government and Gujjar leaders, both sides had failed to agree on a venue for the dialogue on Saturday, causing a setback to the process of starting negotiations.

The state government wanted the dialogue to be held in Jaipur whereas Bainsala had insisted on Bayana as the venue.

The violent agitation by the Gujjars since May 23 has claimed the lives of 38 people in police firing and clashes.

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