Raje uses SMS, leaflets to appeal for calm

May 29th, 2008 - 3:32 pm ICT by admin  

By Anil Sharma
Jaipur, May 29 (IANS) As the Gujjars spread out across Rajasthan’s borders disrupting life in the state and in areas surrounding the national capital, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje sent SMS messages and dropped leaflets over troubled areas appealing for calm and asking the community to approach the central government. “Hamare shantipriya rajya mein ashanti hona dukhad hai. Mera anurodh hai ki aap sanyam ka parichay dein aur shanty bhalai mein sahyog karein (It is sad to see unrest in our peaceful state. Please restrain yourself and help us maintain peace),” said the chief minister’s SMS message sent to over 10 million mobile owners in Rajasthan.

As the Gujjar protest demanding Scheduled Tribe status entered its seventh day, the state government used Indian Air Force helicopters to drop pamphlets in Bayana and Sikandra areas where community members have been laying siege, refusing to cremate the bodies of some of the 37 who have died in clashes with security forces.

Raje asked the Gujjars to take up their initiatives with the central government and “use their wisdom” because her government had already made recommendations to New Delhi that they be given job quotas.

But the Gujjars seemed unimpressed and rejected Raje’s appeal and burnt the pamphlets while shouting anti government slogans, said reports coming in from various places.

“No major incident has been reported from anywhere in the state so far. Minor incidents like stone pelting have come in from some Gujjar dominated areas,” Home Minister G.C. Kataria told IANS.

On Tuesday, the state government had invoked the National Security Act in 15 violence-hit districts.

“Under the act, the district collectors have been empowered to arrest anyone disturbing law and order and public peace,” said an official of the Rajasthan home department said.

K.S. Bainsla, who heads the Gujjar Sangharsh Aarakshan Samiti (Gujjar pro-reservation front), and hundreds of his supporters - with some of the bodies of those killed in police firing - are squatting on the rail track near Dhumaria station, close to Bayana town in Bharatpur district, 160 km from here.

In adjoining Sikandra in Dausa district too, over 300 Gujjars sitting with six dead bodies have blocked the Jaipur-Agra national highway.

The army and paramilitary forces are patrolling Bharatpur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli districts to control violence in some places as the standoff between the state government and Gujjars continue. The Jaipur-Agra sector has been the worst hit, while train movement on Delhi-Mumbai sector has been hindered.

The Gujjars, an ethnic group who rear livestock and earn a living by selling milk and other dairy products, are demanding that the community be included in the Scheduled Tribes list so that they get better education and job opportunities.

Gujjars, who belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), held protests all over Rajasthan from May 29 to June 4 last year in support of the same demand. At least 26 people were killed in the violence then.

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