New Delhi, Jun 2: Gujjars reasserted that they would continue with their struggle in a peaceful manner until and unless their demands are fulfilled. Speaking at an all India meeting of Gujjar community in New Delhi on Sunday the Gujjar leaders reiterated their demands for a Scheduled Tribe status in Rajasthan and also demanded the removal of Vasundhra Raje led Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP)Government in Rajasthan.
“We will continue our protest as long as our demands are not met. Our demands include removal of Vasundhra Raje and a Scheduled Tribe status for the Gujjars. Our movement is non-violent. Our protest will not cause inconvenience to any citizen living in India," said Ram Saran Bhati, Executive President, All India Gujjar Mahasabha. Meanwhile the Gujjar community also took to streets in New Delhi to further emphasize their issue. The police had to resort to water cannons to disperse the protesting mob.
“The national parties both Congress and BJP should make a decision. As far as reservation is concerned, it is not something new. Our Chief Minister had promised this. We insist upon the same demand. We do not have any new demand. We want reservation in Rajasthan. Once our demands are met, we will welcome the same Vasundhra Raje and the BJP against whom we are protesting today," said Sukhveer Singh, Gujjar leader.
The Gujjars, already considered a disadvantaged group, want to be reclassified further down the complex Hindu caste and status system so that they qualify for government jobs and university seats reserved for such groups. The Gujjars, who have been protesting for more than a week now, have started to branch out from Rajasthan, the epicenter of the protests, to take their protests across northern India.
The government reserves about half of all seats in state colleges and universities for lower castes and tribal groups to flatten centuries-old social hierarchies, in what has been called the world's biggest affirmative action scheme. But the scheme has been criticised for accentuating caste identities in India, where discrimination on caste is banned in the constitution.
A year ago, Gujjars in Rajasthan fought police and members of another caste that already qualifies for job quotas. At least 26 people were killed in that violence. After these protests, a state government committee said it would spend 2.8 billion rupees improving schools, clinics, roads and other infrastructure in Gujjar areas. But Gujjars rejected this option.