Bodies of Gujjars killed in violence taken for cremation

June 3rd, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, June 3 (IANS) Security was beefed up in parts of Rajasthan Tuesday as the bodies of the Gujjars killed in the violence in the past 12 days were taken for cremation by their relatives. “We have stepped up security in and around Bayana and Sikandra towns,” V.S. Singh, state principal secretary home, told IANS Tuesday. He said the post-mortem examination of 16 bodies in Pilupura in Bayana, in Bharatpur district, was completed Monday evening.

“We have information that 11 bodies were cremated by relatives in Karauli district while the other bodies are likely to be cremated today,” a district administration official from Bharatpur said.

He said efforts were being made to perform the post-mortem on 20 bodies in Sikandra in Dausa district, over 80 km from here, Tuesday. “One post-mortem was conducted yesterday and doctors have gone to undertake more autopsies today,” Singh added.

Meanwhile, for the 12th consecutive day, the ethnic Gujjars continued their road and rail blockade agitation to demand affirmative action by the government, affecting train and highway traffic.

Tension continued to prevail in parts of Rajasthan, which witnessed violent protests by Gujjars demanding tribal status for better educational and job opportunities. At least 39 people, including a policeman, have been killed in the 12 days of violent agitation that started May 23.

The Gujjar women, who laid siege to the railway track near Bandikui station in Dausa district Sunday, continue to squat on the track affecting movement of trains on the Jaipur-Delhi sector.

“At least 16 trains have been affected on the route,” an official of north western railway, Jaipur division, said.

K.S. Bainsla, head of the Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti (pro-reservation front), and hundreds of his supporters are squatting on the rail track near Dhumaria station, close to Bayana town, 160 km east of state capital Jaipur.

In adjoining Sikandra, too, over 300 Gujjars have blocked the national highway connecting Jaipur-Agra. The army and paramilitary forces are patrolling Bharatpur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli districts to control violence.

Bainsla has now threatened to launch the agitation in a big way. “The state government so far has not done anything. We want nothing short of a letter recommending the community as tribals to be sent to the union government,” Bainsla said.

He asked community members to join him in the fight. “I want over 100,000 people to be with me every day in this fight for reservation,” Bainsla said over a public address system in Pilupura. He was however critical of the violence. “There is no place for violence in our fight. We want reservation through peaceful means following Gandhian principles.”

The Gujjars, who belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), rear livestock and earn a living by selling milk and other dairy products.

Gujjars held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year, demanding Scheduled Tribe status. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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