The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shriller battle cry on Gujjar lips
- Meet calls for Vasundhara’s ouster
Congress MP Sachin Pilot addresses the Gujjar meet in Pushkar on Sunday. Picture by Prem Singh

Pushkar, June 24: The Gujjars want their reservation demand to be put before the Centre within 70 days and have urged the BJP to replace Vasundhara Raje Scindia as Rajasthan chief minister.

The deadline comes three weeks after the June 4 agreement in which Vasundhara promised to set up a panel to examine the community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

At a mahasammelan in this holy town where Gujjars from nine states had descended in a show of strength, leaders warned the BJP of electoral setbacks if it did not remove Vasundhara.

Gujjar leader Baisna (top) and Sachin’s mother Rama Pilot at the meet. Pictures by Prem Singh

“This government has lost its moral authority to continue. The Assembly elections (in Rajasthan) are a year away, so the BJP would be best advised to replace the top leadership of this regime now. Otherwise, the party will face reverses not only in Rajasthan, but in other states, too,” the resolution passed at the meeting said.

The statement, read out on behalf of ‘Colonel’ Kirori Lal Baisna, who has spearheaded the protests, was greeted with cheers and claps. This is being seen as a sign of the tensions between the community and the government.

There were warnings of a countrywide agitation — last month’s Gujjar protests crippled Rajasthan, Delhi and parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — if the reservation demand is not put before the Centre by September 4.

After the agreement this month, the government set up a panel headed by a high court judge to examine the community’s demand. Its report is expected by September 4.

Compensation — Rs 5 lakh for each of those who were killed and Rs 10,000 to each of the wounded — has also reached the victims of police firing in Peepalkheda and Patoli. This was also part of the pact reached with the state. But the money has not satisfied leaders, who say the government is not serious in its attempt to heal wounds.

“In any other place, a probe into police firing leads to action against police officials. The fact that this government is yet to do that doesn’t inspire our confidence in its intentions,” said Roop Singh, who was part of the talks with the state government on the pact.

The venue of today’s meeting was carefully chosen. Pushkar is where Lord Brahma accepted goddess Gayatri — who the Gujjars claim to draw their lineage from — as his wife. But the community is not willing to wait for divine intervention. They said the September 4 deadline will not be extended.

The BJP has more reasons to worry. Rajasthan isn’t the only state going to polls next year. Madhya Pradesh and Delhi will also vote. Both states have a sizeable number of Gujjars.

The meeting was attended by two party MLAs. Prahlad Gunjal and Athar Singh Badana, who have rebelled against the high command, played “political martyrs” and exhorted BJP legislators to follow their example, or lose Gujjar votes.

The Congress was there too, trying to tap into the anger at the state government.

“No one can stop us from achieving our rights. And we are a warrior community,” said Sachin Pilot, the party’s MP from Dausa and a Gujjar.

But the young lawmaker, realising that the administration could find the remarks provocative, quickly took a cautious line. “Of course, we should stay away from violent means in the future.”

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