Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla on Saturday said that they have ended quota agitation in the interest of the nation and requested that all the blockades across Rajasthan be removed immediately. The Rajasthan government tabled bills on the Gujjar community's demand for an additional four per cent reservation as well as on 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections for government jobs and educational institutions, on Wednesday. Five communities namely Banjara/Baldiya/Labana, Gadiya Lohar/Gadoliya, Gujjar/Gurjar, Raika/Rebari/Debasi and Gadariya/Gadri/Gayari will benefit from this move.
The Gujjar stir had crippled the rail network in Rajasthan as agitators blocked roads and railway tracks. Every day for the past week, several trains were cancelled or diverted in the Sawai Madhopur district of the state. On Tuesday, the district collector had issued a notice to Bainsla asking him to vacate railway tracks. The sit-in had affected the movement of over 300 trains through the region so far. Amid the protests, the Rajasthan government conducted meetings throughout Tuesday at the state secretariat to discuss the quota issue with ministers and other Congress leaders.
At present, the Gujjar community in Rajasthan has 1 per cent reservation under the Most Backward Classes (MBC) within the 50 per cent legal limit. The demand for separate 5 per cent reservation for the Gujjars was struck down by the Rajasthan High Court in 2017. The state government has moved the Supreme Court against the Rajasthan HC order. Currently, reserved category has 49 per cent in Rajasthan including 21 per cent OBC, 16 per cent SC and 12 per cent ST. If Gehlot government bring another bill on Wednesday then it could be challenged again. Hence the Gurjars have been demanding 5 per cent reservation with an amendment in the constitution so it does not face any legal hurdle. Notable the Modi government recently gave 10 per cent reservation to economic weaker section (EWS) by amending the constitution. Gujjars have argued that the 10 per cent reservation announced by the Centre also exceeds the 50 per cent reservation limit.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot reiterated that the agitating Gujjar community members vacate the railway tracks and come forward to hold dialogue. He said the state government will do whatever it possibly can to address their issues and they should raise their demand before the Centre.
“I want to appeal to the community members to hold talks. Whatever will be possible at the state government’s level will be done. They should also raise their demand before the Centre,” Gehlot told reporters in Jaipur.
He said that the one per cent reservation the community was getting at present was because of the decision taken by the former Congress government led by him. “Several trains have been cancelled, many diverted. It is a loss for the country and its economy. People are suffering and I would appeal them to hold talks,” the chief minister said.
Bainsla, who along with his supporters began the indefinite sit-in on railway tracks in Malarna-Dungar of Sawai Madhopur on Friday evening, has so far refused to back off.
“We will not move from the tracks unless the announcement is made. There is only one demand, that is five per cent reservation,” Bainsla’s son Vijay Singh said.
(With PTI inputs)