Rajasthan steps up security before Gujjar protest

May 22nd, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, May 22 (IANS) The Rajasthan government has stepped up security and disallowed any public meetings or carrying of arms in four districts ahead of the Gujjar community’s blockade of train tracks Friday. Officials said prohibitory orders have been imposed in Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli and Dausa after the Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti called for a ‘rail roko andolan’ (stop railway campaign) and a siege of the Dumaria station, which falls on the important Delhi-Mumbai rail link.

The Gujjars are demanding tribal status for the community to facilitate better education and job opportunities.

Police sources said over 30 Gujjars have been arrested and more were likely to be nabbed. Efforts were also being made to arrest the Samiti chief, Colonel K.S. Bainsla, who has gone underground after giving the call for the agitation.

“We have imposed prohibitory orders in Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli and Dausa. No one would be allowed to carry arms or organise a public meeting,” said Niranjan Arya, divisional commissioner of Bharatpur.

“We have also deployed additional forces, including the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and Railway Protection Force, in sensitive areas,” Arya told IANS.

Gujjars, who belong to the other backward classes (OBC), held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year, demanding thecommunity be included in the Scheduled Tribes category that would give them better employment and educational opportunities.

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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