JAIPUR : Just months before the Lok Sabha elections, Gujjars are back on the streets in Rajasthan demanding quota in jobs and education. Led by Col. Kirori Singh Bainsla, convener of the Gujjar Aarkashan Sangharsh Samiti, they started their protest on Friday from Sawai Madhopur district, putting the new Congress government in the state in a quandary. They are demanding 5 per cent reservation for the community under special backward class.
The community had earlier given a 20-day ultimatum to the state government. As the time limit ended on Friday, Bainsla led a Gujjar mahapanchayat at Malarna Dungar where it was decided to renew the agitation.He led around 3,000 supporters to hold a dharna on the Delhi-Mumbai railway tracks which affected the movement of a number of trains.
An agitated Bainsla also announced blocking of four important highways leading to Jaipur, but asked his supporters not to damage public property. “It’s now time for an all-out fight. The highways from Delhi to Jaipur via Kotputali, Ajmer to Jaipur, Tonk to Jaipur and Agra to Delhi will be blocked,” he said.
The state government swung into action and sent senior IAS officer Neeraj K Pawan to Sawai Madhopur to resolve the issue. A three-member committee, comprising health minister Raghu Shrama, tourism minister Vishvendra Singh and Bhanwar Lal Meghwal, has also been set up to discuss the issue with the Gujjars.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to the community to maintain peace and said the government’s doors are open for discussions. On reservatiion, however, he put the ball in the Centre’s court.
To maintain order, the state government has deployed 17 companies of Rajasthan Armed Forces in eight districts while Section 144 has been imposed in Malarna Dungar.