Gujjars gather to block rail tracks in Rajasthan

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, May 23 (IANS) Agitating members of the Gujjar community in Rajasthan gathered in Bharatpur district Friday to block railway tracks to press their demand for tribal status to facilitate better education and job opportunities even as police fortified the area. The Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti, which is spearheading the campaign for tribal status, had given a call for a ‘rail roko andolan’ (stop rail agitation) at Dhumaria station near Bayana, about 170 km from here. Dumaria station falls on the important Delhi-Mumbai rail link.

The Rajasthan government has imposed prohibitory orders and tightened security measures in four of the Gujjar dominated districts of Rajasthan.

“We have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli and Dausa. No one would be allowed to carry arms or to organise a public meeting,” Bharatpur Divisional Commissioner Niranjan Arya told IANS.

“We have also deployed additional forces, including Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and Railway Protection Force, in sensitive areas,” he added.

A large number of policemen patrolled the district and personnel of the Railway Protection Force could be seen every 200-300 metres.

In spite of all the measures taken by the government, including the arrests of over 200 members of the community, Gujjars started gathering for the protest since early Friday.

Gujjars put up barricades in their villages in a bid to stop police arresting their leaders. Incidents of stone pelting against policemen were also reported from some areas of the district as police tried in vain to arrest K.S. Bainsla, head of the Gujjar Sangarsh Aarkshan Samiti.

Gujjars, who belong to the other backward classes (OBC), held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year, demanding the community 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.

Bainsla said that this time the agitation would go on till their demands are met.

“We have been fooled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state for long. This time we want our demand to be accepted,” he said.

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