Gu­j­jarprotesters open­fire on­po­lice,torchve­hi­cles

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

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTNATION - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

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 main­tain 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.”

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