Ashok Gehlot urges for peace as Gujjar agitation threatens to hold Rajasthan at ransom
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has urged Gujjars to maintain peace after their agitation turned violent in Dholpur on Sunday.
The agitating Gujjars torched three police vehicles, two jeeps and a bus, as police fired shots in the air to disperse them from blocking the Agra-Morena high way.
The local administration has imposed prohibitory orders in the district. Four policemen were injured after protestors pelted them with stones.
Gehlot expressed his concern over the police vehicles being torched and said it was not right. But there is a big question mark over the state government unpreparedness in dealing with the agitation which was announced 20 days ago.
The government made no attempt to detain Gujjar leaders to prevent them from reaching Malarna Dungar railway line in Swai Madhopur which has been the core of the agitation.
Gehlot said it was wrong to hold agitations along rail tracks. "Our government is sensitive about their demands and are always keen to hold talks. But we will look into anti-social elements who indulged in violence in Dholpur and hope Bainsla will also ensure peace,'' Gehlot said.
Agitators have disrupted the Jaipur-Dausa highway and National Highway near Ajmer resulting in long queues of vehicles. The government has reported sporadic violence from a few other places.
The Gujjar agitation is notorious for turning violent and have already cost 80 lives besides massive damage to government property.
Security has been stepped up in other parts of the state. Agitators have threatened to disrupt traffic along national highways at different places.
Chief Secretary DB Gupta held a meeting at the civil secretariat with Director General of Police Kapil Garg in Jaipur to review the situation.
The local administration, in adversely affected districts like Karauli, has cancelled leave of employees and asked the state government to depute more officials who had been posted here earlier.
Gehlot has sent Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh to negotiate with Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla on the rail track where the agitation has been taking place.
But Bainsla has refused to hold a meeting in Jaipur to demand an immediate notification of five per cent special OBC quota for Gujjars. The government can not provide this quota without exceeding 50 percent reservation. This is why courts have repeatedly struck down such a notification in the past.
The only way out for the government is to create a four per cent quota within the existing OBC reservation or give Gujjars scheduled tribe status. However, communities that are in the OBC and ST category oppose any such special treatment to Gujjars.
Gehlot has asked Bainsla to make his demand to the Centre to increase the total reservation beyond 50 percent through a constitutional amendment. Bainsla has rejected it.
The Railways had to cancel and divert many trains as Gujjars capture the crucial Delhi-Mumbai rail line. As always, the Gujjar agitation has harassed thousands of passengers and in the same way, Bainsla, notorious for ignoring the people's plight, has stubbornly said people could suffer for a few days.
He has also defended politics behind the agitation given that his son Vijay Singh Bainsla has proposed to contest the general election. Bainsla in the past has tried his hand in both the Congress and the BJP.