Food supply, mobile network cut off, Gujjars allege

May 26th, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Sahil Makkar
Bayana (Rajasthan), May 26 (IANS) Determination is high among the thousands of agitating Gujjars camping on a stretch of railway track here to demand the Scheduled Tribe status for the community. The security agencies have cut their food supplies and jammed the mobile network, they allege but vow to continue with the rail blockade. “They have cut the food supply from each side of the road. They are not allowing trolleys and tractors, on which people from other villages are bringing food to the Gujjar people protesting here,” said Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla.

“The army, Rapid Action Force and policemen are snatching food from our people - either to eat it themselves or to throw it away. But this will not stop or deter us from our resolve of demanding a letter of recommendation from the state government for inclusion of Gujjars in the Scheduled Tribes list,” he added.

The retired army colonel said: “We will die hungry, but will not leave the railway tracks.”

More than 3,000 people are squatting on the railway tracks in Pilupura village, about 80 km from the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. They have uprooted the tracks on a bridge, leading to suspension of all train movement between Delhi and Mumbai on this route. At least 18 trains on this track have been cancelled.

The Gujjars are camping here since May 23. At least 37 people have been killed, mostly in police firing, both in Pilupura village and Sikandra in Dausa district.

The situation in the entire Gujjar dominated areas is tense. Gujjars have blocked the Jaipur-Agra highway at Sikandra, where angry community members are sitting on the roads with the corpses of six people killed in police firing May 24. The agitagtors have refused to cremate their dead until the community’s main demand for tribal status is accepted by the government.

The army has reportedly surrounded Dausa district from three sides and is preparing to clear the highway of protesters. The Gujjars in many places burnt the effigies of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Home Minster Gulab Chand Kataria.

The allegation that security agencies have jammed the mobile network seemed true as no mobile phone was working within several km range of Pilpura village, where Bainsla is camping.

“They have jammed the mobile networks to make sure that we do not communicate with our people. They think by doing this our protest will weaken, but this time the Gujjars have decided to fight till the end,” said Ram Prasad, the head of a village in Dausa district.

Bainsla said the security agencies can stop people from fetching food from the main roads, but how would they stop the thousands of villagers of the surrounding 80 villages.

“Food will flow from everywhere,” he said. People could be seen offering food to each and every man sitting on the protest.

Meanwhile, the army and security personnel have surrounded areas affected by the Gujjar agitation.

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