Members of the Gujjar community in Rajasthan were back on railway tracks, protesting against the Government’s failure to fulfil their election manifesto to reserve 5% reservation to the Gujjar their demand on Reservation for Gujjar community
The members of Gujjar community in Rajasthan are back on ‘track’ after a call by Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, since February 8. They have started an agitation, pressing for a 5% reservation in government and educational institutes. This time, they are adamant and are raising a slogan Abki Baar, Aakhri Baar. They have blocked the Delhi Mumbai railway route as a part of their protest causing hardships to thousands of passengers.
According to Col Kirori Singh Bainsla, leader of Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, “The state government, in its election manifesto, had promised 5% reservation to Gujjar community and hence the Congress government should now fulfil its promise after coming to power.”
Gujjar Agitation: Train service blocked for the demand of reservation by Gujjars in Rajasthan
Sitting on the railway tracks in Malarna Dungar railway station near Sawai Madhopur, he adds, “I am quite disappointed with the Congress government. Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot represents the Gujjar community. He assured us of getting reservation. Now, he has forgotten his promise. Hence, Gujjars have decided to fight to the finish.”
According to Col Bainsla, “The members of the committee had warned twenty days ago the government of staging the protest. However, there was no representative sent to initiate dialogues. Hence we are forced to start the agitation, he said.
He questioned why they should worry about the inconvenience to people when the government inconvenience them by ignoring their demand for reservation.
On February 8, the community first convened a mahapanchayat to decide the way forward for the protest. Soon after the mahapanchayat, members of the Gujjar community went to Malarna Dungar railway station where they blocked the railway tracks.
”I am quite disappointed with the Congress Government. Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot represents the Gujjar community. He assured us of getting reservation. Now, he has forgotten his promise. Hence, Gujjars have decided to fight to the finish”: Col Kirori Singh Bainsla, leader of Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti
Speaking on the occasion, Col Bainsla said, “Government has not responded to our request. We want 5% reservation for our community. If the Centre can give 10% to Economically Backward Class in just a few days, why can’t state government do the same for us?” he said.
Bainsla said he wouldn’t move until 5% reservation was given. Vijay Bainsla, son of Col Bainsla said that despite giving a warning twenty days ago, to State Government of our protest, none of the government officials turned up to pay heed to our demand.
“We waited for government officials to find an amicable situation. However, no one came to us. Hence, we have decided to take this agitation to next level”, he said. He warned the Congress government ‘to bring reservation or face consequences.’
Meanwhile, traffic was disrupted due to the Gujjar agitation on North Western Central railway route. Railway officials confirmed that several trains were cancelled and many trains were diverted due to the ongoing agitation.
On second day of the protest, women from Gujjar community also came onto the tracks to join the protest. bState government sent a team headed by State Minister Vishwendra Singh and IAS Neeraj K Pawan who reached out to protestors on tracks. However, talks failed to bring out any outcome.
The third day of the protest, however, turned violent with violence reported in Dholpur. Protestors fired gunshots, setting police vehicles on fire.
Dholpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Ajay Singh said a violent mob opened firing in air on the Agra-Morena Highway. The highway remained blocked ahead of the firing by protestors. Also protesters from the Gujjar community pelted stones, injuring four jawans.
The police had to retaliate with tear gas shells to disperse the mob. However, the traffic movement resumed a few hours later. Three FIRs were lodged in 3 days of protest and section 144 was imposed in Karauli, Dholpur and Bharatpur.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot criticised the act of violence but did not show any sign of compromise anywhere. He said that government is ready to open discussion with the community. “Am confident that Col Bainsla and his team shall come and talk to us.” However, Col Bainsla has strongly clarified to the team sent earlier that all talks shall happen on tracks and nowhere else.
On the other hand, BJP accused the Rajasthan government against ignoring their demand which they said is now affecting thousands of lives.
In their election manifesto, Congress had promised reservation to the Gujjar community if the come to power. Now they are trying to run away from their promise. Meanwhile, state human rights commission on Feb 8 also issued a notice to state government and the police administration directing the officials concerned to present before them on February 11 and inform about the steps being taken to preserve the human rights of people affected by this stir.
On February 13, the Rajasthan government introduced a bill in the Assembly to give a five per cent quota in jobs and educational institutes to Gujjars and four other communities agitating for it.
The government introduced the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutes in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Amendment Bill, 2019, for giving reservation to Gujjars and the other castes.