Gujjar crisis: Rajasthan top cop sent on long leave

May 31st, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, May 31 (IANS) The Rajasthan government has sent its Director General of Police (DGP) A.S. Gill on long leave - apparently to pacify the agitating Gujjar community after 38 protesters were killed, most of them in police firing, in violence surrounding the Gujjars’ nine-day pro-reservation agitation. K.S. Bains, head of the intelligence wing in the state’s police force, was named the new DGP in a development late Friday night.

“He (Gill) has been made a scapegoat,” a police official said.

“Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was not happy with him on the handling of the Gujjar issue,” a source close to the chief minister told IANS Saturday.

Meanwhile, the deadlock between the Gujjars, who are agitating for Scheduled Tribe status since May 23, and the Raje government continues.

The Gujjars have said that they will only enter into any kind of dialogue if the chief minister is removed. “We do not have any faith in this government. We would only talk after the chief minister is removed,” said Roop Singh, a senior Gujjar leader.

Singh also demanded that the Gujjar ministers and legislators in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) resign from the state assembly. “They should resign and join us in the fight for classifying us as tribals,” Singh added.

There are two Gujjar ministers in Raje’s cabinet and eight legislators from the community in the 200-member state assembly.

The Gujjars continued their train and road blockade agitation for the ninth day in succession Saturday in Rajasthan, affecting train and road traffic.

Tension continued to prevail in parts of Rajasthan, which has witnessed violent protests by Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status for better educational and job opportunities.

On Friday, two people were killed while 12 others were injured when police opened fire on a violent mob in Sawai Madhopur district. “We do not have any information of any violence so far in the state on Saturday,” Home Minister G.C. Kataria told IANS here.

K.S. Bainsla, head of the Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti (Gujjar pro-reservation front), and hundreds of his supporters continued to squat on the rail track near Dhumaria station, close to Bayana town in Bharatpur district.

They have kept with them the bodies of some of their community members killed in police firing on May 24 - with ice slabs to keep the corpses from decaying further in the severe heat.

The Gujjars have vowed not to cremate the bodies till the issue is sorted out. In adjoining Sikandra in Dausa district too, over 300 Gujjars are sitting with six dead bodies, blocking the national highway connecting two of India’s most popular tourist centres - Jaipur and Agra.

The army and paramilitary forces are patrolling Bharatpur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli districts as the standoff continues.

The Jaipur-Agra sector has been the worst hit while train movement on the Delhi-Mumbai sector has been hindered.

Most Gujjars, who are classified as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Rajasthan, rear livestock and earn a living by selling milk and other dairy products. They held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year too, in support of the same demand. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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