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Gujjars, Rajasthan government talks break down

Gujjars, Rajasthan government talks break down

Gujjars blame the government for not accepting their three major demands.

Jaipur: The talks on Monday between a motley delegation of the Gujjars and the Rajasthan government broke down, with the community leaders blaming the government for not accepting their three major demands, and continuing their job quota agitation for the 15th day.

"They did not accept our demand to stop the government recruitment process till an amicable solution is found to our reservation issue. Secondly, the government failed to satisfy us on how and by when five percent reservation would be provided to us," said Himmat Singh, a delegation member, said immediately after the meeting.

"They (the government) also did not give us any assurance on withdrawing the cases against the protesters," Singh said, adding that Col. (Retd) K.S. Bainsla, convener of Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, would decide on the agitators' future course of action.

The government, however, said the talks were fruitful.

Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal, one of the three ministers negotiating with the Gujjars, said: "These talks have helped us to move forward towards an amicable solution."

"We reached an agreement on nine of their 12 demands. Tomorrow (Tuesday) also we may have talks. We will talk to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Bainsla and try to reach an understanding too on these remaining three issues," said Dhariwal.

Talks between the agitating Gujjar community and the Rajasthan government resumed Monday after the first round, beginning Sunday evening and lasting late into the night, remained inconclusive.

Talks between the 51-member Gujjar delegation and the ministerial committee resumed around 12.30 p.m. at the state secretariat building here, officials said.

Besides Dhariwal, the committee has state Energy Minister Jitendra Singh and Transport Minister B.K. Sharma as members.

"We have accepted some of their demands and are optimistic of an amicable solution to the agitation," an official of the state home department said Monday morning.

The Gujjars, however, remained firm on their demand for five percent reservation.

"We do not want anything less then five percent reservation and will only call off our agitation after a solution is reached," said Srikrishna Bainsla, another member of the Gujjar delegation.

As efforts to break the impasse continued, the Gujjars sustained their protests Monday morning 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.

Colonel Bainsla was not part of the delegation, which was led by Basanta Sarpanch. According to official sources, there were chances that Bainsla would come to Jaipur for a meeting with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Monday or Tuesday to formalise some sort of an agreement after the meeting.

On Saturday, after a meeting attended by Minister of State of Communications Sachin Pilot, Jitendra Singh, and other leaders, the government requested Bainsla to send a delegation for talks.

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

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

The Rajasthan government in 2009 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, more than the 50 percent cap set by Supreme Court.

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

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

first published:January 03, 2011, 18:13 IST