Gujjars to lauch stir demanding reservation

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New Delhi, Jan 19: The All India Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti today decided to launch a ''peaceful and non-violent'' agitation from January 21 to press for its demand, seeking Scheduled Tribe status for the members of the community across the country, but maintained that it has not ''shut its doors'' for talks.

Addressing a news conference here, Samiti chief patron Col Kirori Singh Bainsala also announced that he would sit on an indefinite hunger strike from January 20 at Hindon in Karoli district to protest against the indifferent and vindictive attitude of the BJP government in Rajasthan. However, he assured that the Gujjars would not ''resort'' to any kind of violence during the agitation.''There would be no law and order problem from our side. We believe that the state government is hatching a conspiracy and some elements may try to create disturbances during the agitation.

I appeal to all the Gujjars to maintain calm and not allow the vested interests to succeed in their nefarious designs.'' Col Bainsala urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to intervene and grant the ST status to the Gujjars of the country.

Asked if he and other Gujjar leaders were ready for talks to resolve the issue, he replied in the affirmative.

''We have not shut our doors for the dialogue. Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje Scindia is not prepared to hold talks with. She should come forward and try to sort out the issue.'' Col Bainsala said the Chief Minister should inform them about the problems, if any, faced by the state government in recommending to the Centre the ST status to Gujjars.

Col Bainsala further said that the Rajasthan government should immediately stop resorting to ''intimidating measures'' such as arresting ''innocent Gujjars and framing them in false'' cases. The All India Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti rejected outright a Rajasthan government proposal providing four to six per cent separate reservation for Gujjars, Gadiaya Lohar, Banjara and Rebari castes. ''Nothing short of ST status for the Gujjars will satisfy the community members,'' he said.

Col Bainsala, flanked by Delhi legislator Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and Samiti president Sukhbir Singh Jonapuria, said even the Chopra Committee, that looked into the issue, had clearly stated that the Gujjars do not have access to power or employment opportunities.

The Samiti leaders said the Gujjars had been left ''untouched'' by the ongoing development process in the state and warned the BJP of serious political consequences if it does not fulfill the demand immediately.

''The state Assembly elections are fast approaching and the BJP government will have to face the consequences if it failed to fulfill the long-pending demand of the Gujjars,'' they said.

Asked if in that case the Gujjars would support the Congress, the Samiti leaders said it was too premature to comment on that.

''For us, there is no difference between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress should first make clear its stand on the issue and then try to seek our support,'' the Samiti leaders said.

They also condemned Ms Scindia's January 12 statement on the Gujjar agitation as ''totally unacceptable, unwarranted and provocative''.

The Samiti leaders claimed that the Chief Minister had stated that the Gujjar leaders from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were instigating their brethren in Rajasthan and had allegedly directed the BJP cadres to ''beat them up'' if they try to enter the state.

''We strongly condemn Ms Scindia's provocative statement and urge the Union Home Minister to take appropriate action against the Chief Minister by registering a case against her.'' Col Bainsala said the agitation would continue till the ST status was granted to the Gujjars.

UNI

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