Rajasthan government braces up to face Gujjars

Jaipur, Sep 28 (IANS) The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan has started to put in place contingency plans to maintain law and order on Oct 2 when Gujjars start their “jail bharo aandolan” in support of their demand to classify them as a scheduled tribe.

The chief minister is holding meetings with the home secretary, director general of police and other senior state government officials to identify temporary prisons where the Gujjars can be housed after they are arrested, official sources have told IANS.

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The government estimates around 200,000 people will court arrest on Oct 2.

“Every Gujjar in the age group of 17 to 70 years will court arrest on Oct 2 and the government should be ready to face the consequences if it tries to stop us from doing so,” said Prahlad Gunjal, a Gujjar leader.

The Rajasthan High Court has ordered that the Gujjars will have to take permission from the district magistrate to hold a mass meeting or any protest rally. They will also have to submit an undertaking that the protestors will be unarmed and will not block any road.

Official sources also said that every protestor would be fingerprinted and photographed before being sent to jail.

The ruling BJP government plans to send its ministers, senior leaders and party workers to Gujjar dominated areas to help the local administration maintain law and order.

Gujjars held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 to support their demand for inclusion in the scheduled tribe category that would give them better employment and educational opportunities. The Gujjars are presently in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category.

The agitation paralysed normal life in and around Rajasthan when the protesters blocked roads. The violence associated with the agitation led to the death of 26 people.