Rajasthan government-Gujjars talks fail


Jaipur : Talks between the Rajasthan government and Gujjars for giving more time for a high-powered panel to look into the community’s demand for tribe status have failed to make any headway.

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The state government during the meeting Thursday sought a month’s extension for the Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee. But the Gujjars were not ready to give any extra time, sources told IANS.

The Gujjars categorically said at the meeting they wanted a letter to be sent to the central government by Sep 12, failing which they would launch protests at a maha-panchayat (mass meet) to be held in Dholpur Sep 13, sources said.

“We postponed our protests after the state government assured us that the committee would give its report in three months. Now the government – with a plea to extend the time for the committee – is trying to unnecessarily delay the process. We will not accept it,” a Gujjar leader is reported to have told the government at the meeting.

Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria and Medical and Health Minister Digambar Singh attended the meeting.

The Gujjars feel the scheduled tribe status would provide them with better educational and employment opportunities. They are currently classified as other backward castes in Rajasthan.

The panel, which was set up by the state government June 12, was to submit its report on Sep 12 this year. However, in a letter to the state government sent Aug 30, the panel said it wanted an extension till Dec 15.

The committee said it had completed around 40-50 percent of the work. Sources said the committee had heard the pleas and views of around 44 of the 96 petitioners. The panel also has to examine hundreds of CDs, photo albums and cassettes.

The committee in its letter to the state government said that it would have to travel to respective places to verify the records submitted by various organizations and people, sources added.

Gujjars had earlier held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 to press their demand for inclusion in the scheduled tribe category. Normal life was paralysed and at least 26 people were killed in the violence.