Gujjars get five percent special reservation, end agitation

June 18th, 2008 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  


Jaipur, June 18 (IANS) The Rajasthan government Wednesday offered a five percent special reservation to Gujjars, Banjaras, Gadia Lohar and Raika communities, bringing an end to a nearly month-old stand-off over the Gujjar community’s demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes category. These groups will now be counted as special backward communities. “The agitation has finally come to an end and I have always maintained that these kind of problems can be sorted through talks. Now I feel the state will move towards progress,” Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje told reporters at a press conference here.

While announcing the special reservation, the government has not tampered with the existing Scheduled Castes (SC)/Scheduled Tribes (ST) or Other Backward Classes (OBC)list. In Rajasthan, the total percentage of reservation - for OBC and SC/ST - is at 49 percent already. And the five percent special reservation for the three communities is above it.

The Banjaras and Gadia Lohar are nomadic communities who were not accorded any reservation until now and Raikas are essentially camel rearers.

“We are also sending a letter to the central government on the issue of granting tribal status to the Gujjars,” Raje added.

Gujjar leader Col. K.S. Bainsla, who also addressed reporters, described the talks as “historic”.

He said: “I do not find words to express my gratitude to the state government and I feel sorry for the problems faced by the people of the country because of our agitation. I assure the (state) government full support in the development of the state. Once I reach Pilupura (the nerve centre of the Gujjar agitation), I will formally call off the agitation.

The Rajasthan government and the Gujjars had concluded “successful talks” late Tuesday on the community’s demand and an agreement was to be reached Wednesday.

There was much celebration as Baisla headed for Pilupura, with community members shouting slogans and praises.

The chief minister also announced a 14 percent reservation to economically backward classes of communities like brahmins, rajputs, vaish and kayasthas, but did not explain the details.

Raje said: “We will organise a cabinet meeting tomorrow to define the parameters on who are to be included (in the 14 percent reservation).”

The Gujjars are classified among the OBCs in Rajasthan but they were demanding Scheduled Tribe status that would give them a bigger share of the jobs and education quota pie. They have been agitating since May 23, blocking roads, highways and laying siege to railway tracks.

As many as 39 people were killed when the protests 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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