GUJJARS RE­JECT TALKS OF­FER

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - News - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

BHARAT­PUR: The stale­mate be­tween the state gov­ern­ment and the Gujjars con­tin­ued for the sec­ond day on Satur­day as the Gu­j­jar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, spear­head­ing the stir, re­jected the gov­ern­ment in­vite for talks in Jaipur and said talks would only be held on the tracks in the open.

Tourism min­is­ter Vishven­dra Singh as­sured that the gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to giv­ing them 5% reser­va­tion and reached the protest spot at Malarna-Dun­gar sta­tion where Gujjars be­gan their sit-in on Fri­day. He sug­gested that the Gujjars form a del­e­ga­tion for talks with the gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives that could be held in Jaipur on Sun­day. He said the CM had asked him to meet the Gujjars and lis­ten to their is­sues.

How­ever, Bainsla said the gov­ern­ment would have to come to the venue of the protest for talks. Ad­dress­ing the pro­tes­tors, Singh said talks would not be fea­si­ble in the com­mo­tion. “We will hold talks at length and dis­cuss all is­sues point by point,” he said. How­ever, Bainsla re­fused Singh’s sug­ges­tion.

The state gov­ern­ment came into ac­tion and formed a com­mit­tee com­pris­ing tourism min­is­ter Vishven­dra Singh, health and fam­ily wel­fare min­is­ter Raghu Sharma and so­cial jus­tice and em­pow­er­ment min­is­ter Bhan­war­lal Megh­wal and an IAS Neeraj Pawan. Ef­forts will con­tinue on Sun­day as min­is­ter Raghu Sharma or min­is­ter Bhan­war­lal Megh­wal could join the di­a­logue. Talks are to be held on three is­sues — 5% quota, back­log in gov­ern­ment jobs and in­creas­ing creamy layer to 8.5 lakh.

Mean­while, chief min­is­ter Ashok Gehlot, in a bind over the Gu­j­jar reser­va­tion, put the ball in the Cen­tre’s court. Gehlot, who was in Delhi for a meet­ing to dis­cuss Congress can­di­dates for the Lok Sabha polls, said the state gov­ern­ment has done its bit on reser­va­tion and now the de­mand can only be ful­filled through an amend­ment in the Con­sti­tu­tion for which the Gujjars should ap­proach the Prime Min­is­ter and Union home min­is­ter.

Bainsla’s son, Vi­jay said that the Gujjars were feel­ing cheated and were an­gry. “Why should we talk to the Cen­tre? The Congress is in power in the state.

And it is the Congress which had in its man­i­festo promised reser­va­tion... Now after win­ning elec­tions, they can’t dil­ly­dally. They should talk to the Cen­tre and ful­fill our de­mand...”.

■ Kirori Singh Bainsla with min­is­ter Vishven­dra Singh and IAS Neeraj K Pawan talk with Vi­jay Bainsla on rail­way tracks at the Malarna Dun­gar sta­tion in Sawai Mad­hopur on Satur­day. HT PHOTO

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