Gujjars, Rajasthan government hold talks

Thursday, 30 December 2010, 13:16 Hrs
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Rajasthan:The first round of talks between the Gujjar community, agitating for the past 1 days for five percent reservation in government jobs, and the Rajasthan government officials was held here Thursday.

"The talks were held in cordial atmosphere. The 11-member delegation after meeting us returned to Piloo Ka Pura where they will brief other Gujjar leaders about the meeting. We are optimistic that soon an amicable solution would be reached," G.S. Sandhu, Rajasthan government's principal secretary for urban development, told IANS on phone.

Sandhu, who is also looking after the home department, is member of the state government delegation deputed to hold talks with the Gujjars.

"We have conveyed to the delegation that the government is committed to provide them 5 percent reservation, but in the light of high court judgement it would have to go through the legal process", he said.

He described as "positive" the talks with the delegation held in Karwade village.

The government earlier had communicated to the Gujjars that "though the high court has given us a year's time, we wish to finish the task as early as possible. The government is already giving one percent reservation and keeping aside four percent for them [Gujjars]."

It is still undecided where the second round of talks will be held.

Meanwhile, the Gujjars continued with their agitation that started Dec 20. The Bharatpur shutdown call given by them for Thursday evoked complete response with major markets remaining closed.

Train services between Delhi and Mumbai remained affected Thursday as Gujjars continued to squat on the railway tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district, about 150 km from the state capital Jaipur.

Gujjars decided on a rail blockade Dec 20, after holding a 'mahapanchayat' (community conclave) in Bayana.

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

However, Gujjars late on Wednesday evening lifted their siege from some of the sectors including Jaipur-Delhi and Jaipur-Agra rail route.

In July 2009, the Rajasthan government 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.

Since the total reservation had exceeded the Supreme Court cap of 50 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.

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, had earlier between 2006 and 2008 staged violent protests in which many lives were lost.
Source: IANS
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