Jammu and Kashmir Gujjars plan to stop rail traffic

May 27th, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

Jammu, May 27 (IANS) The Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday announced they would start an agitation in the state to support the “cause of granting Scheduled Tribe status to their community members in the western Indian state of Rajasthan”. Addressing a press conference in Jammu Tuesday, the community leaders said they have been “left with no other course but to join the ongoing agitation launched by the Gujjars of Rajasthan for their just, reasonable, and genuine cause of granting tribal status to them”.

Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir were declared as Scheduled Tribe in l991.

Agitated over the killing of 35 Gujjars in Rajasthan, a community leader said: “If the Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal can get the tribal status way back in nineties, (then) why are the Rajasthani Gujjars deprived.”

He said: “We are one race, one tribe having the same socio-economic, cultural background, so treat us as equals.”

“We have decided to join ‘Rail Roko Andolan’ (Stop rail agitation) and are going to stop rail traffic on Delhi-Jammu line from Wednesday,” said Anwar Chaudhary, state president of the Jammu and Kashmir Gujjars United Front, a political organization working for the betterment of Gujjars in the state.

He added: “We are also thinking of stopping milk, mutton, vegetables and other commodities supplied by the Gujjars in the state to motivate the central government to intervene in granting Scheduled Tribe status in favour of Rajasthani Gujjars.”

Lashing out at the Rajasthan government for police firing on agitating Gujjars, the front’s state secretary Shah Mohammad Tuesday asked the Vasundhara Raje administration to end “repression” against the protesters and talk to them for an amicable settlement.

In Rajasthan, while the Gujjars have been classified as other backward classes (OBCs), they want ST status like the Meenas and a share of the quota pie. Ironically, OBCs get 27 percent reservation and STs 7.5 percent, but the perception is that the community will get a larger share of the quota pie with ST status.

The community had held similar protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year. Normal life was paralysed and at least 26 people were killed in the violence that seemed headed towards a caste war between Meenas and Gujjars last year.

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