Gujjars start returning home from rail tracks


Jaipur : Hundreds of Gujjars, squatting on railway tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district for the past 17 days to press their demand for job quotas, have started packing their bags to return home after an agreement with the Rajasthan government.

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The Gujjars were Wednesday assured five percent quota in government posts following several rounds of talks.

They were seen dancing, singing folk songs and shouting slogans like “Bainsla zinabad” (Long live K.S. Bainsla, their leader) as they packed their makeshift tents and utensils Thursday morning.

“I am happy that finally an agreement has been reached,” said Omprakash, a resident of nearby village.

“It was really a difficult time to be on the tracks without a shed during this chilly winter season. But we wanted reservation and now the government has assured us on that,” said Rajaram, another Gujjar.

The protesting Gujjars have removed blockades from most of the highways and movement of trucks and cars has started on the Jaipur-Agra national highway.

Gujjars had blocked the highway near Pipalkhera, forcing authorities to divert the traffic via Alwar.

“Some protesters are waiting for Col. (Redt) Bainsla (who leads the community) to come to Piloo-ka-Pura and formally announce the end of the agitation,” said Roop Singh, spokesperson of Gujjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti that has been spearheading the agitation since Dec 20.

“We feel that the track should be fully clear by today (Thursday) evening,” he added.

Bainsla has left Jaipur and is expected to address Gujjars in various places before reaching Piloo-ka-Pura late in the afternoon.

Large groups of Gujjars squatted on rail tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district – a community stronghold – and blocked train movements, especially on the Delhi-Mumbai sector. They also blocked some of the highways.

The community late Wednesday called off the agitation after an accord with the state government.

“I am satisfied with what the state government has offered to the community,” Col Bainsla, convener of the Samiti, said after signing the agreement in Jaipur.

Roop Singh said one percent reservation to special backward classes would continue as it is, and for the remaining four percent the state government would file a review petition in the high court and if need be approach the Supreme Court.

He said that the government, according to a recent high court directive, has agreed to complete a survey to verify the backwardness of special backward classes within six months.

A 36-member Gujjar delegation led by Bainsla and a three-member ministerial committee talked for over eight hours before both parties reached an agreement.

The Rajasthan government in 2009 announced five percent reservation for Gujjars and 14 percent for the economically backward classes, taking the total reservation in the state to 68 percent – more than the 50 percent cap set by the Supreme Court.

In a ruling Dec 22, 2010, the high court struck down the job quota for Gujjars.