Rajasthan tourism industry worried over Gujjar protest


Jaipur : Rajasthan’s tourism industry is worried about the proposed Gujjar sit-in protest here Jan 21 as the inflow of visitors to the state has already started reducing following news of the demonstration.

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Gujjars, presently belonging to the other backward class (OBC) category, have been demanding the scheduled tribe (ST) status that would give them better employment and educational opportunities.

At least 26 people were killed in violent Gujjar protests and clashes between them and the Meenas from May 29 to June 4 last year. The Meenas, the largest community under the tribal category in Rajasthan, are against the inclusion of the Gujjars in the ST list.

One body of the agitating Gujjars, the Gujjar Sankyut Sangarsh Samiti, has announced that it will hold a protest in Jaipur while another body, the Gujjar Sangarsh Aarkshan Samiti, will hold a demonstration near Bharatpur Jan 21.

With a record arrival of more than 1.2 million foreign tourists and 17 million domestic visitors during the year 2005-06, Rajasthan has been one of the most popular holiday destinations in India.

Most of the tourists to Rajasthan come from Europe, Australia, Canada, the US and Japan and almost 60 percent of them visit the state during the October to March period but that might change with the fear of violent Gujjar agitations looming large.

“No one wants to spend the holidays in tension. And with tourists hearing of the Gujjar agitation through the media, they are either trying to skip their tour to the desert state or are busy devising tour itineraries in such a way that they come here after Jan 21,” Karan Singh, a travel agent, said.

Rajendra Singh, a tour operator, said: “We are getting telephone calls as well as emails from our principal travel agents overseas asking us to inform them whether or not it will be safe to travel to Rajasthan in the wake of the proposed protest by the Gujjars. We don’t know what to tell them.”

Another tour operator, Navendu Goswami, said: “Following the violent protest of Gujjars last year, tourists do not want to take any chances. We are also requesting them to postpone their tours by a few days.”