Ajmer shuts down over Gujjar protest

Monday, December 27, 2010

AJMER - Major markets here were shut and traffic on the roads was sparse as the shutdown call by Gujjars, demanding five percent reservation in government jobs in Rajasthan, evoked a near total response.

Security was tightened in the city and police personnel were seen patrolling sensitive areas. There were no reports of any violence.

“Police are patrolling across the district and the situation so far is under control,” a police official told IANS.

Train services between Delhi and Mumbai and a few other sectors, meanwhile, continued to be affected Monday as Gujjars blockaded the railway track near Bayana in Bharatpur district.

Over 15,000 Gujjars began their agitation Dec 20. Under the leadership of Colonel (Redt) K.S. Bainsla, the Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti spearheading the agitation held a ‘maha panchayat’ (major community concil) in Bayana, about 150 km from state capital Jaipur, and decided on the rail blockade.

Following the decision, hundreds of protesters squatted on rail tracks in Piloo Ka Pura, forcing the railway authorities to divert or cancel a few trains.

Railway authorities have filed cases against 600 Gujjars for damaging railway property.

In July 2009, the Rajasthan government had announced five percent reservation for Gujjars and 14 percent for the economically backward classes, taking the total reservation in the state for various sections of society to 68 percent.

The high court in October 2009 stayed the quota in jobs and educational institutions in the state for Gujjars and the economically backward classes as the reservation ceiling had exceeded the cap of 50 percent.

In a ruling Dec 22, 2010, the high court struck down the job quota for Gujjars.

Gujjars, demanding reservation for better educational and job prospects earlier between 2006 and 2008, had staged violent protests in which many lives were lost.

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