Gujjars issue ultimatum to Rajasthan government
July 27, 2009: The Hindu
JAIPUR: A massive “mahapanchayat¶ of Gujjars, seeking the Scheduled Tribe status for reservation, which began at Penchla Mod hamlet near Hindaun town in Karauli district of Rajasthan on Sunday morning, was converted into a three-day “mahapadaav¶ (grand siege) by evening with an ultimatum to the State government to settle the issue.
Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti convenor Kirori Singh Bainsla announced at the gathering that though the mahapadaav would be peaceful, the onus was on the government to get the Bill for special reservation to Gujjars cleared by the Governor. No untoward incident was reported at the venue.
Col. Bainsla, who unsuccessfully fought the recent Lok Sabha election on the BJP ticket from Sawai Madhopur, said he would stay at the mahapadaav for the next 24 hours and wait for a “clear-cut response¶ from Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Gujjar leaders fanned out to villages in the region asking the people belonging to the community to join the mahapadaav in large numbers. Reports reaching here said the number of people joining the grand stay was gradually increasing by late evening.
Those attending the conclave held under tight security cover at the Penchla Mod ground, about 10 km from Hindaun, observed a two-minute silence to pay homage to the youths killed during the community’s violent quota agitation during 2007 and 2008. The second-rung community leaders affirmed that the siege would continue until the Gujjars got their “rightful due.¶
Mr. Gehlot reviewed the law and order situation at a meeting with senior police and administrative officers at his residence here, even as jawans of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary, the Rapid Action Force and the Special Task Force were keeping vigil at the site.
Mr. Gehlot sent Energy Minister Jitendra Singh to Bharatpur and Minister of State for Waqf Amin Khan to Dausa in an attempt to find new channels for dialogue with the Gujjar community. Prohibitory orders have been in force since Saturday in Karauli, Dausa, Dholpur, Bharatpur and Sawai Madhopur districts as well in some rural belts of Jaipur district.
Describing Col. Bainsla as a “BJP leader rather than a community leader¶, Mr. Jitendra Singh appealed to him to change the decision for holding the mahapadaav and come to the negotiation table to voice his grievances.
The government, in a special appeal issued through local dailies, pointed out that the previous BJP regime had added a provision for 14 per cent quota for economically backward classes in the Bill for 5 per cent reservation for Gujjars and certain other tribes. “We all know that this additional reservation cannot be given without an amendment to the Constitution,¶ said the appeal. Meanwhile, BJP State president Arun Chaturvedi demanded that the government “convince and pursue¶ Governor S.K. Singh to give his assent to the Bill on reservation passed by the Vasundhara Raje regime last year: “The ruling Congress, rather than acting as an agent of the Governor, should get the Bill cleared from the Raj Bhavan without delay.¶
Mr. Chaturvedi told reporters that the BJP would not agree to any amendment to the Bill for changing the percentage of reservation to the tribes and EBCs if the Governor opted to send it back to the Assembly. The Governor is likely to return here on Monday after treatment abroad.