The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh harps on Gujjar peace

New Delhi, June 2: The Prime Minister and top BJP leaders today met to decide that restoring peace in Rajasthan was the priority, and the BJP goaded chief minister Vasundhara Raje into talking to Gujjar leaders for the first time.

The Gujjars’ quota demand, as well as the matter of changing the chief minister, can be decided later, BJP president Rajnath Singh said after getting Raje to abandon her hard line against the agitators.

The nine-hour talks at Raje’s residence led to the much-delayed announcement of compensation: Rs 5 lakh to the family of each victim. The state imposed the National Security Act in 11 districts, where arsonists can now be arrested without warrants.

The Prime Minister broke his five-day silence to appeal to all to “desist from actions which may lead to further violence and distress”.

On Tuesday, police firing on Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status had killed 11, provoking highway blockades and deadly clashes between the agitators and the Meenas, a powerful rival caste.

This morning, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh met Manmohan Singh and his foreign and home ministers, Pranab Mukherjee and Shivraj Patil.

“They agreed that among the first jobs… was cremating the Gujjars, whose bodies were still lying on the highway, and getting the chief minister to speak to the community leaders,” BJP spokesman R.S. Prasad said.

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