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Special package for Gujjars, but they want more

Gujjars, who are currently classified among OBC, held protests all over Rajasthan last year, demanding their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes category with a view to better benefits from quotas in education and government jobs.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Jaipur
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2008 11:14 AM IST

Thirteen blocks in Rajasthan with a substantial population of Gujjars are likely to get a special package of Rs 5 billion soon, but community leaders have already declared they want economic aid across the state.

A high-powered committee set up by the state government to suggest incentives for Gujjar-dominated areas is giving final touches to the special package. The committee is likely to discuss its final report on February 19 and formally submit it to the government by end of this month.

Initially, the committee is set to recommend an economic package for 13 Gujjar dominated blocks, informed sources said. These areas were identified as the most backward by the Justice Jasraj Chopra committee, which last year looked into the community's demand for the tribal status.

The sources said the committee, set up in mid-December, is laying stress on development of education and upgradation of medical facilities in these areas.

It is likely to recommend opening of industrial training institutes (ITIs) in the areas dominated by Gujjars.

"The special package would also give importance to dairy and animal husbandry as Gujjars are mainly engaged in that field," a source told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Improvement of infrastructure, including roads and electricity supply, will also be a part of the package, the source added.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who also holds the finance portfolio, is expected to announce in the state budget the package for these areas based on the high-powered committee's report.

The committee would take up the remaining 20 blocks for detailed study after the budget session, the sources said.

But the Gujjars have already said they would not accept the committee's recommendations.

"Why this discrimination? Why only 13 blocks? We want special packages for all areas where Gujjars are dominant. We would not accept it for just 13 blocks," Ramprasad, a Gujjar, said.

"We are not going to be satisfied by the special package. We want nothing less than the tribal status," Prahlad Gunjal, a senior Gujjar leader, said.

Gujjars, who are currently classified among other backward classes (OBC), held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year, demanding their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes category with a view to better benefits from quotas in education and government jobs.

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