Gujjars determined not to give way
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Gujjars determined not to give way

Gujjar leader threatening before talks with Raje that they would not only continue their movement for tribe status if no understanding was arrived at soon.

jaipur Updated: Jun 04, 2007 13:22 IST

Hopes for peace in Rajasthan receded on Monday with a Gujjar leader threatening before talks with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje that they would not only continue their movement for tribe status but also refuse to hold further discussions if no understanding was arrived at soon.

Amid the uneasy calm in the state, which has been paralysed for much of last week with Gujjars agitating for Scheduled Tribe status to get quotas in jobs and education and the Meena community insisting that only they were entitled to it, all hopes had been pinned on the talks.

But Roop Singh, a leader of the Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti that has been spearheading the talks, said determinedly: "We will continue with the agitation till our demands on Scheduled Tribe status is not met."

As their agitation spread to the capital and its surrounding areas, Roop Singh told journalists before going in for a meeting with Raje: "If we are not able to reach an understanding, we will continue our agitation but will not hold further talks with the state government."

Sources in the government, which has been scrambling for a peace formula, said Raje might give an offer to "orally" ask a commission to look into the demands and study the quota issue in detail.

This is the fifth round of talks with the government since last week, when trouble broke out in the state with at least 25 people being killed.

The talks were slated to be held on Sunday evening but were rescheduled to Monday because Gujjar leaders reached Jaipur only at 1 am.

Samiti convenor Kirori Lal Bainsla had been invited by the chief minister on Saturday to participate in the talks.

Prakash Javdekar, spokesperson of the BJP that rules the state, has expressed the hope that the situation would improve soon and that talks were the only way out.

"The end to this problem can only come through peaceful means and talks," Raje had echoed him.

In a bid to bring the situation under control, the chief minister Sunday night also called Kirori Lal Meena, a minister in her cabinet, to discuss the Meena-Gujjar issue.

However, sources said that Minister Meena has categorically asserted that the community would not tolerate tribal status to Gujjars, classified as other backward classes (OBCs). The Meenas are the only ones in the state with Scheduled Tribe status.

Looking at the volatile situation, the state government has extended the National Security Act (NSA) in three more districts thereby bringing 14 troubled districts under its purview. The NSA permits detention of persons considered security risks without charging them or without a trial for one year.

However, the government expressed satisfaction that the situation had been pretty much under control through the weekend.

"Since Friday evening no major incident of violence has been reported from any part of Rajasthan. Except for the Jaipur-Agra national highway, all major highways have become operational," said a senior official.

The Jaipur-Agra highway is a part of the tourist Golden Triangle that links the Taj Mahal with Jaipur.

First Published: Jun 04, 2007 13:21 IST