Rajasthan government, Gujjar leaders to meet again


Jaipur : The Rajasthan government and agitating Gujjar leaders are likely to hold a fifth round of talks later Sunday to find a solution to their demand for affirmative action in quest of better employment and educational opportunities for their largely farming community.

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"Colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla has accepted the invitation and would hold talks with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje later today in Jaipur," Roop Singh, a Gujjar leader, told IANS on phone.

Colonel Bainsla is the convenor of Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti that is spearheading the agitation and was invited by the chief minister Saturday for talks.

Earlier Sunday, the Gujjars cremated five members of their community who were killed in May 29 police firing in Patauli near Dausa.

Meanwhile, the state that is a magnet for domestic and foreign tourists, continued to be calm for the second day.

"Since Friday evening no major incident of violence has been reported from any part of Rajasthan (a major destination for tourists because of its rich historical and cultural heritage) except for Jaipur-Agra national highway, all major highways have become operational", a senior state government official said.

The Jaipur-Agra national highway is a part of the tourist Golden Triangle that links the Taj Mahal with the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) in Jaipur.

A seven-hour marathon meeting between Gujjar leaders and Raje on Saturday had remained "inconclusive". However, after the meeting, the chief minister had said that the talks on the reservation issue would continue.

Raje also announced Rs.500,000 as relief for the family of those killed in firing. "The injured would be provided suitable and necessary assistance", she added.

The trouble started on Tuesday when a road blockade by the Gujjars to press their demand for Scheduled Tribe status, took a violent turn during which 14 people were killed in clashes with the police.

Since the start of the agitation on May 29, at least 25 people have been reported killed in clashes. In spite of a surface calm, an ugly caste conflict looms large in Rajasthan with scuffles taking place between Gujjars and Meenas over the quota pie given to Scheduled Tribes. The Meena community is the dominant Scheduled Tribe community in the state.

On Friday, five people were killed and 20 injured in clashes between the two groups in Rajasthan's Dausa and Karauli districts, taking the death toll to 25, officials said.

Earlier in the day, a violent mob of Meena community had burnt a truck carrying food supplies for agitating Gujjars in Patauli.

Reports of minor scuffles between the two communities also came from other parts of the state.

Looking at the volatile situation, the state government Saturday imposed National Security Act (NSA) in 11 of the troubled districts — Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli, Tonk, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Bundi, Kota, Baran, Jhalawar and Ajmer.

The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 permits detention of persons considered security risks. Police may detain suspects under NSA provisions without charge or trial for a year on security grounds.

Hundreds of people have been stranded at railway stations and bus terminals as the Gujjars continue to block highways leading mainly to Agra. The government said the Jaipur-Delhi highway had been cleared but people are not willing to take the highway.