Gujjars conclude ’successful’ talks with Rajasthan government

June 18th, 2008 - 1:03 am ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, June 17 (IANS) Breaking a 26-day-old violent standoff, the Rajasthan government and the agitating Gujjars concluded “successful talks” late Tuesday evening on the community’s demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category. An agreement between the two sides will be signed Wednesday morning. Addressing a press conference after the talks, Ramdas Agarwal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who headed the government delegation, said: “I am happy to state that normalcy will return very soon in the state. Both the sides are satisfied with the talks, which have been successful. An agreement will be signed tomorrow, which will be made public.”

He said the agreement had been reached “keeping in mind the interest of five crore (50 million) people of Rajasthan”.

Gujjar leader Col. K.S. Bainsla described the talks as “historic”. “I thank Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Ramdas Agarwal for working out an amicable solution.”

Both the leaders, however, refused to divulge details of the agreement reached.

Ramvir Singh Vidhuri, a Gujjar leader, told the media, “The agitation will be called off tomorrow (Wednesday) after we receive the agreement.” He also termed the talks as “very successful” and said that “no tampering” had been done with the Other Backward Classes or the present Scheduled Tribe list.

“You will come to know about it in the morning,” he said.

In Rajasthan, the total percentage of reservation - for OBC, Scheduled Caste and Tribes is at 49 percent already.

Sources close to the chief minister said the signing had been fixed for Wednesday “deliberately” as Raje considers Wednesday as “very auspicious” to begin any new work.

The Gujjars are classified among the other backward classes (OBCs) in Rajasthan but they want Scheduled Tribe status that would give them a bigger share of the jobs and education quota pie. They have been agitating since May 23.

Meanwhile, Bainsla’s supporters continued their agitation at Bayana in Bharatpur district, 160 km from here, laying siege on the railway track linking Mumbai with Delhi. Army and paramilitary deployment also continued there to check against any untoward incident.

As many as 39 people were killed when the agitation turned violent last month.

Last year, Gujjars held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 to press the same demand. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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