Gujjar women call off siege on Jaipur-Delhi tracks

June 6th, 2008 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, June 6 (IANS) After five days of laying siege to a section of the crucial Jaipur-Delhi railway line, hundreds of agitating Gujjar women in Rajasthan’s Dausa district relented and allowed the authorities to take over the tracks Friday evening. The Gujjar community, agitating for the past fortnight to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category, are slated to hold talks with the state government very soon, official sources said here.

The women, who were squatting since Sunday on the railway line near Bandikui station in Dausa district severely affecting movement of trains on the Jaipur-Delhi sector, called off the stir. The state police has taken control of the line.

Some Gujjar leaders are expected to hold a meeting with their leader, Colonel K.S. Bainsla, later Friday. Talks between the government and the Gujjars are expected to start either late Friday night or Saturday, said sources.

Bainsla, convener of the Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti (pro-reservation stir), had Thursday said that the Gujjars are ready to hold talks with the Rajasthan government on their demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category.

Bainsla’s statement came after he received a proposal from the state government for entering into a dialogue to resolve the issue. “I have invited Gujjar leaders and intelligentsia from all over the country to Pilupura (Bayana) to frame the charter of demands on which talks are to be held with the government,” Bainsla said.

“Let Gujjar leaders come here and we’ll decide the future course of action. We will together form a committee to hold talks with the government,” Bainsla said.

However, Bainsla is not going to be part of the committee that will hold talks with the government, sources close to the Gujjar leaders said.

“Some leaders have already reached Bayana while others are on their way,” Roop Singh, a Gujjar leader said.

“We do not have any confirmation where the talks are going to be held. It may happen either in Bayana or Jaipur,” a home department official said.

Gujjars, who are classified as other backward castes (OBC) in Rajasthan, are demanding tribal status for better educational and job opportunities. At least 39 people, including a policeman, have been killed in the 15 days of violent agitation that has hit road and rail traffic in the state.

In adjoining Sikandra in Dausa district, over 300 Gujjars have blocked the national highway connecting Jaipur-Agra. Uncertainty continues over cremation of the 20 dead bodies lying there since the postmortem was performed on Wednesday. Some of the Gujjars are demanding that their leaders, including Sachin Pilot, be present at the time of cremation while others want the release of Gujjars arrested by the police.

The army and paramilitary forces are still patrolling Bharatpur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli districts.

The Gujjars, an ethnic group who rear livestock and earn a living by selling milk and other dairy products, held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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