Gujjar clashes with police in Ferozabad

May 30th, 2008 - 9:16 pm ICT by admin  

Ferozabad (Uttar Pradesh)/ Gwalior, May 30 (ANI): Four people were injured during a violent clash between members of Gujjar community and police officials in Firozabad on Friday.
Reportedly, the angry protesters disrupted rail traffic for about two hours. Police in response routed to baton charge to disperse them.
Meanwhile, the chief of Bharatiya Janshakti Party (BJS), Uma Bharti, continued her hunger strike for the second day in Gwalior in support of the demands of Gujjars.
Bharti was prevented from entering Rajasthan on Thursday to support the Gujjar demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
Earlier Bharati accompanied by scores of Gujjar activists, tried to enter Rajasthan from the state’s border with Madhya Pradesh.
Bharati threatened to continue her hunger strikes till the time, demands of ethnic community were not met.
Whether Gujjars are being granted Schedule tribe status outside Rajasthan or not is not the issue of debate, but they should be included in schedule tribe in Rajasthan as it was promised to them, said Bharati.
The Gujjars, already considered a disadvantaged group, want to be reclassified further down the complex Hindu caste and status system so they qualify for government jobs and university seats reserved for such groups.
The Gujjars, who have been protesting for over a week now, have started to branch out from Rajasthan, the epicenter of the protests, to take their protests across northern India.
Demonstrations turned violent last week and protesters lynched a policeman. Police fired on the rampaging mobs killing 36 of them.
The government reserves about half of all seats in state colleges and universities for lower castes and tribal groups to flatten centuries-old social hierarchies, in what has been called the world’s biggest affirmative action scheme.
But the scheme has been criticised for accentuating caste identities in India, where discrimination on caste is banned in the constitution.
Some critics say the quota system masks India’s failure to provide good universal education and social equality.
A year ago, Gujjars in Rajasthan fought police and members of another caste that already qualifies for job quotas. At least 26 people were killed in that violence.
After these protests, a state government committee said it would spend 2.8 billion rupees improving schools, clinics, roads and other infrastructure in Gujjar areas. But Gujjars rejected this option. (ANI)

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