Uneasy calm in Rajasthan, as all eyes fixed on Gujjar-Raje meeting
Jun 4, 2007, 4:15 GMT
Jaipur, June 4 (IANS) Uneasy calm prevailed in violence hit Rajasthan as all eyes were fixed on the Gujjar-Rajasthan government fifth round of talks to be held later in the day.
The talks were slated to be held Sunday evening but as Colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla along with other leaders reached Jaipur at around 1.00 a.m. in the morning, the meeting was rescheduled for today at 10.00 a.m., officials said.
Colonel Bainsla is the convenor of Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti that is spearheading the agitation and he was invited by the chief minister on Saturday to participate in the talks.
The Gujjar are demanding reservation under tribal status, which they feel will improve their economic status by giving them better job and educational opportunities.
Prakash Javdekar, the spokesperson of the BJP has claimed that by today the law and order situation in the state would improve. 'Law and order situation is improving and I am confident that it would improve further later in the day today', Javdekar said adding that talks are the only solution to the Gujjar quota issue.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan since Friday has remained incident free. 'Since Friday evening no major incident of violence has been reported from any part of Rajasthan except for Jaipur-Agra national highway, all major highways have become operational', a senior state government official said.
The Jaipur-Agra national highway is a part of the tourist Golden Triangle that links the Taj Mahal with the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) in Jaipur.
Security has been beefed up in Kota, over 250 km from here where Gujjars have given a bandh call for today.
Though the talks between the representatives of the Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje brought forth no results till late Saturday, the Government did manage to get the Gujjars to agree to hold further talks on the issue.
The chief minister after the meeting had said that the talks on the reservation issue would continue.
Raje had invited Colonel Kirori Lal Bainsla, convenor and main leader of the Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti, the body that is spearheading the agitation, to attend the meeting.
'The end to this problem can only come through peaceful means and talks', Raje said. Sounding optimistic she said that a solution to the problem would be found out soon.
She also announced Rs. 500,000 as relief for the family of those killed in firing. 'The injured would be provided suitable and necessary assistance', she added.
The Government has also announced a solatium of Rs. one million each to the kin of two policemen who were killed in the mob violence.
The trouble started Tuesday when a road blockade announced by the Gujjars, to press for their demand for Scheduled Tribe status, took a violent turn during which 14 people were killed in clashes between agitators and police. Since the start of the agitation on May 29, at least 25 people were reported to be killed in clashes.
In spite of a surface calm, an ugly caste conflict looms large in Rajasthan with reports of scuffles coming in between Gujjars and Meenas clashing over the quota pie given to Scheduled Tribes.
The Meena community is the dominant Scheduled Tribe community in the state. On Friday, five people were killed and 20 injured in clashes between the two groups in Rajasthan's Dausa and Karauli districts, taking the death toll to 25 since the Gujjar fury erupted May 29, officials said.
The trouble started Friday when the Meenas tried to remove roadblocks put up by the Gujjars in Dausa.
Intervention by the police and army averted further clashes between the two communities.
Late in the night Sunday, the chief minister called Dr. Kirori Lal Meena, a minister in her Cabinet to discuss the Meena-Gujjar issue.
However, sources said that Meena has categorically said that the community would not tolerate tribal status to Gujjars thereby compounding problem for Vasundhara Raje.
Looking at the volatile situation, the state government has extended National Security Act (NSA) in three more districts thereby bringing 14 troubled districts under the act.
The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 permits detention of persons considered security risks. Police may detain suspects under NSA provisions. Under these provisions the authorities may detain a suspect without charge or trial as long as one year on security grounds.
© 2007 Indo-Asian News Service