Gujjars agree for talks, to send 51-member delegation

Sunday, January 2, 2011

JAIPUR - After a gap of 13 days, the agitating Gujjars Sunday finally decided to send a 51-member delegation to hold talks with the Rajasthan government in Jaipur. The talks are expected to start late Sunday evening.

The proposed direct talks have been stalled after the protestors put in fresh demands before the meeting could take place.

Colonel (retired) K. S. Bainsla has decided to send a delegation to hold talks with a three-member ministerial committee. Basanta Sarpanch would lead the delegation, Roop Singh, spokesperson of Gujjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, the body spearheading the agitation for five percent quota in government jobs, told IANS Sunday.

Singh pointed out that neither he nor Bainsla are part of the delegation.

The delegation will now have 51 members and not 21 as stated by Bainsala earlier. There will be 20 Gujjars from Piloo Ka Pura and more joining them on the way to Jaipur, according to an official.

Earlier Saturday, after a meeting attended by Minister of State of Communications Sachin Pilot, Jitendra Singh, energy minister in Ashok Gehlot government, and other leaders, the government had again requested Bainsla to send a delegation for talks.

Bainsala had demanded such a meeting of the representatives of the Gujjar community in the Congress party and their response to the issue before the talks could be pursued.

Pilot said that the Ashok Gehlot government was committed to provide reservation to Gujjars, but the high court ruling on the issue also needed to be considered.

Jitendra Singh, himself is a Gujjar and also part of three-member committee for the talks, had urged the agitators to send the delegation so that talks could begin now that Bainsala’s demand for the meeting has been met.

He said that the government is working on a plan to provide reservation to Gujjars but in the light of the high court judgment it would have to go through the legal process.

Gehlot had met a delegation of Gujjar leaders Friday in a bid to break the deadlock. The delegation was led by former Congress legislator Harisingh Mahua.

The Gujjars on Thursday agreed to send a 21-member delegation to Jaipur for talks with the three-member ministerial committee comprising Jitendra Singh, Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal and Transport Minister B.K. Sharma.

As efforts to break the impasse continued, the Gujjars sustained their protests Sunday by squatting on the rail tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district and blocking train services. There were long delays in services between Delhi and Mumbai.

The rail blockade began Dec 20, after a ‘mahapanchayat’ (community conclave) in Bayana.

The five percent job quota issue remains a contentious issue since Dec 22, 2010 after the high court struck down the government order announcing the reservation.

The Rajasthan government had in 2009 announced five percent reservation for Gujjars and 14 percent for the economically backward classes, taking the total reservations in the state for various sections of society to 68 percent, more than the 50 percent cap set by Supreme Court.

The Gujjars had staged violent protests between 2006 and 2008 in which many lives were lost.

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