Gujjars intensify stir, block Jaipur-Agra highway

Jaipur: A day after talks between Gujjars and the Rajasthan government over reservation failed to make any headway, protesting Gujjars on Sunday intensified their stir by blocking the Jaipur-Agra highway, an important tourist route in India.

Members of the Gujjar community did not allow any vehicle to pass through the highway from Sikandara - in Dausa district, about 85 km from state capital Jaipur - forcing the district administration to divert vehicular traffic to other routes.

Gujjars are demanding five percent reservation under the SBC (special backward class) category.

"We will jam the state by blocking rail and road traffic if our demand is not met. The state government does not seem interested in solving our reservation issue," Himmat Singh, spokesperson of the Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti, told IANS.

On Saturday, talks were held between a three-member ministerial committee and a six-member delegation of the Gujjars in the premises of a college in Bayana town, a few kilometres from the place where Gujjars are squatting on railway tracks.

"On Saturday, the ministers came to us for a meeting without any concrete proposal. It seemed that they had come for a picnic. For four days, rail and road movement have been affected and in spite of this, the state government does not have any concrete proposal," Himmat Singh said.

The samiti, led by Col. (retd) Kirori Singh Bainsla, is spearheading the agitation.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered against Bainsla and 12 others for blocking rail and road traffic, damaging public property and railway tracks.

The ministerial team that held talks on Saturday comprised Medical and Health Minister Rajendra Rathore, Social Welfare Minister Arun Chaturvedi and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Hem Singh Bhadana.

The Gujjars have been protesting in Bharatpur district for reservation in government jobs and educational institutes.

The sit-in by Gujjars in Pilu Ka Pura area in Bharatpur district has affected the movement of at least 65-70 trains so far, including those on the Delhi-Mumbai section, officials said.

Gujjars, demanding reservation for better educational and job prospects, had staged violent protests earlier in 2006-2008, in which at least 67 people lost their lives.

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