More violence in Gujjar stir, three killed (Third Lead)

May 30th, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, May 30 (IANS) The Gujjar movement for affirmative action took another violent turn Friday in Rajasthan with three people killed in clashes with the police. But there was talk of peace as well, with some leaders saying they should move towards the negotiating table. A day after the community’s movement for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status disrupted life in New Delhi and surrounding areas, violence broke out in Sawai Madhopur district, about 170 km from here, when some Gujjars tried to block a road and stoned the police trying to disperse the mob.

Three people, including a policeman, were killed in the violence, taking the number killed since May 23 to 40.

“The incident occurred when Gujjar protesters tried to block the road. When police tried to disperse them, they pelted stones. The police had to fire tear gas and use canes. After this we had to resort to firing,” Inspector General of Police Umesh Mishra told IANS.

The deaths, which are likely to make community members more intransigent, came as a section of the leadership met here to hammer out a compromise with the Rajasthan government to end the eight-day impasse.

They took the initiative to work out a proposal acceptable to their leader K.S. Bainsla and his supporters, who for the last eight days have been squatting on train tracks near Bayana, 160 km from here, affecting rail traffic on the New Delhi-Mumbai sector.

“Some senior Gujjar leaders who met here (Friday) have appealed to our community to shun violence and not to take law in their hands,” said Roop Singh, spokesperson of the Gujjar Sangarsh Aarakshan Samiti (pro-reservation front) headed by Bainsla.

“We are unanimous in our desire for tribal status. It has also been decided to send a delegation to Bainsla to request him to work out modalities for holding talks with the government,” Roop Singh said.

He added that everyone was agreed on the need for negotiations. “We take one step forward and let the government take a step forward,” Roop Singh said.

BJP MP Vishwendra Singh, scion of the erstwhile royal family of Bharatpur, who had been asked by BJP national president Rajnath Singh to help resolve the situation, said the state’s BJP government had not contacted him. But he added that he would go to Bayana Saturday.

“I have been here since Thursday but there has been no contact. I am returning to Delhi Friday evening and will go to Bayana to initiate talks with the Gujjars on my own,” Vishwendra Singh said.

Bainsla was supposed to be in Jaipur Friday along with 12 others to appear before the Rajasthan High Court in a contempt case. However, he did not appear because the notice was not given on time.

While tentative efforts at peace were being made, tension continued for the eighth day in succession, with the movement by Gujjars affecting train services and highways in the state.

Bainsla and hundreds of his supporters continued their sit-in at Bayana, near the bodies of those killed in police firing. And in adjoining Sikandra in Dausa district, over 300 Gujjars sat with six bodies, blocking the Jaipur-Agra national highway.

There was fresh trouble on the Mathura-Bharatpur border with the Uttar Pradesh Police preventing farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union from going to express his solidarity with Bainsla. Tikait was travelling to the desert state in 50 vehicles with scores of his supporters when he was stopped.

Soldiers and paramilitary forces are patrolling Bharatpur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, and Karauli districts to control violence.

The traditional shepherd community is listed as one of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Rajasthan and are entitled to 27 percent reservation. But they want ST status - and thereby 7.5 percent reservation - like the Meena community in the belief that this will give them a larger share of the quota pie.

They had held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year as well. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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