Gu­j­jar pro­test­ers open fire on po­lice, torch ve­hi­cles

VI­O­LENCE Sec­tion 144 im­posed, three ar­rested; ag­i­ta­tors threaten to in­ten­sify stir

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTNATION - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­

JAIPUR: Around half-a-dozen po­lice­men were in­jured when Gu­j­jar pro­test­ers de­mand­ing five per­cent spe­cial reser­va­tion for their com­mu­nity in govern­ment jobs and ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes opened fire, burnt ve­hi­cles and threw stones in Ra­jasthan’s Dholpur dis­trict on Sun­day.

Ra­jasthan’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (law and or­der) ML Lather, in the evening, said three cases have been reg­is­tered against the ag­i­ta­tors in Jhun­jhunu and two more will be lodged in Dholpur, where the pro­test­ers burnt a po­lice ve­hi­cle and set a po­lice post on fire.

As a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, au­thor­i­ties have im­posed Sec­tion 144 of the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Code (CRPC) that pro­hibits as­sem­bly of more than four people in an area in Dholpur and neigh­bour­ing Ka­rauli.

Dholpur po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent Ajay Singh said the pro­test­ers blocked the Agra-morena high­way in Sawai Mad­hopur and threw stones at po­lice­men sta­tioned there. “The po­lice fired tear gas shells to dis­perse the mob,” he said.

Singh said the pro­test­ers then en­tered the houses on both sides of the high­way and fired us­ing coun­try­made pis­tols. “The sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol and around four to six po­lice per­son­nel re­ceived in­juries…”

Gu­j­jar Arak­shan Sang­harsh Samiti (GASS), which is lead­ing the ag­i­ta­tion for the reser­va­tion, has threat­ened to in­ten­sify it from Mon­day. Kirori Lal Bain­sala, the GASS chief, said the protests will take place at more ar­eas af­ter an aus­pi­cious time for wed­dings ends on Sun­day. He con­tin­ued to sit on rail­way tracks near Mal­rana Dun­gar rail­way sta­tion in Sawai Mad­hopur along with his sup­port­ers.

Lather said ad­e­quate ar­range­ments have been made to main- tain law and or­der.

The ag­i­ta­tion af­fected rail traf­fic as two trains were can­celled on Sun­day. At least 20 trains were can­celled and seven di­verted dur­ing the day as the pro­test­ers, led by the Gu­j­jar Arak­shan Sang­harsh Samiti chief Kirori Singh Bainsla, said an of­fi­cial of the north-west­ern rail­way who was not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia.

The Gu­j­jar com­mu­nity launched the stir on Fri­day seek­ing the quota un­der the spe­cial back­ward classes (SBC) cat­e­gory say­ing the rul­ing Con­gress promised it in its man­i­festo be­fore the 2018 as­sem­bly elec­tions.

The state govern­ment had pro­vided Gu­j­jars reser­va­tion un­der the SBC cat­e­gory af­ter sim­i­lar ag­i­ta­tions in 2007 and 2008 left dozens of people dead. The Ra­jasthan high court stayed the move in 2016 say­ing it breached the 50% limit the Supreme Court has im­posed on the reser­va­tion.

The Gu­j­jar com­mu­nity re­sumed the ag­i­ta­tion say­ing the limit has been breached with the Cen­tre giv­ing 10% reser­va­tion to eco­nom­i­cally back­ward sec­tions in Jan­uary.

A non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion chal­lenged the 10% reser­va­tion be­fore the Supreme Court on Jan­uary 10 say­ing it breaches the 50% cap.

The Ra­jasthan govern­ment has main­tained that the Cen­tre alone can pro­vide the five per­cent EBC reser­va­tion to Gu­j­jars.

The pas­toral com­mu­nity, which ac­counts for roughly five per­cent of Ra­jasthan’s pop­u­la­tion, gets one per­cent reser­va­tion un­der the Most Back­ward Class (MBC) cat­e­gory. It also gets quota ben­e­fits un­der the Other Back­ward Class cat­e­gory.

Ra­jasthan health min­is­ter Raghu Sharma, who is a mem­ber of the min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee con­sti­tuted to hold talks with the Gu­j­jar lead­ers, said the govern­ment’s in­ten­tions are clear and that “doors for talks are open.” A pas­toral com­mu­nity, who, as per the 1931 caste cen­sus, con­sti­tute about 5% of Ra­jasthan’s pop­u­la­tion. Tra­di­tion­ally, they have been BJP sup­port­ers They are de­mand­ing 5% reser­va­tion un­der spe­cial back­ward classes (SBC) cat­e­gory, a sub-cat­e­gory un­der OBC. The Gu­j­jars are get­ting OBC reser­va­tion since 1994. They started de­mand­ing

SBC reser­va­tion af­ter the de­mand for giv­ing them ST sta­tus was re­jected by a govern­ment panel. Yes, three at­tempts have been made.

The Va­sund­hara Raje-led BJP govern­ment in 2008 brought a bill for 5% SBC reser­va­tion to Gu­j­jars and four other com­mu­ni­ties. The Ra­jasthan high court stayed the law on De­cem­ber 22, 2010, and asked the state to present quan­tifi­able data to sup­port reser­va­tions un­der SBC The govern­ment re­pealed the 2008 Act and in­tro­duced a new bill in Septem­ber 2015, grant­ing them SBC reser­va­tion in jobs and state govern­ment-run ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. The Ra­jasthan HC struck it down on De­cem­ber 9, 2016, on the ground that it crossed the Supreme Court’s 50% limit for quota in ed­u­ca­tion and jobs.

The state govern­ment brought a bill in 2017 to raise the OBC quota from the present 21% to 26% for grant­ing 5% reser­va­tion to Gu­j­jars and other castes. This, too, was struck down by the HC Cur­rently, they are get­ting 1% quota un­der most back­ward class (MBC) cat­e­gory, apart from OBC reser­va­tion. Reser­va­tion in the state stands at 50% – 16% to SC, 12% to ST, 21% to OBC and 1% to Gu­j­jars In May 2007, Gu­j­jars blocked the Agra-jaipur na­tional high­way. Twenty-eight people were killed in po­lice fir­ing. In May 2008, they laid siege to the Delhi-mum­bai rail route in Bharat­pur dis­trict, and al­legedly lynched a cop. This led to fir­ing by po­lice that claimed 15 lives. In 2010 and 2015, they blocked rail­way tracks but there was no vi­o­lence. The Gu­j­jars lost more than 70 people to po­lice fir­ing and clashes with the Meenas, who were op­pos­ing their de­mand for ST sta­tus in 2007. Colonel Kirori Singh Bainsla, 85, has been lead­ing the com­mu­nity since 2006 . He con­tested the 2009 Lok Sabha elec­tion on a BJP ticket and lost.


Po­lice ve­hi­cles set ablaze in Ra­jasthan on Sun­day by pro­test­ers de­mand­ing five per­cent quota for Gu­j­jars.Who are the Gu­j­jars?

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