| A man at a Gujjar protest meet in New Delhi on Sunday. (Reuters)
Jaipur/New Delhi, June 3: Gujjar leaders today demanded that the Centre impose President’s rule in Rajasthan and told the BJP to ask chief minister Vasundhara Raje to step down.
Gujjars have called a bandh in Delhi on Monday, which will cover the national capital region as the community, straddling state boundaries from north Gujarat and Rajasthan to Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, brings its might closer to the country’s seat of power.
Congress MPs Sachin Pilot and Avtar Singh Badana led a delegation of Gujjar leaders that made the full round of political parties, meeting BJP president Rajnath Singh and top Congress leaders.
“We have asked the Centre to keep all options open as the Rajasthan government has lost the faith of the people. Gujjars all over the country are with the Gujjars in Rajasthan,” said Pilot, who represents the Dausa seat in Rajasthan.
In Dausa, the epicentre of the agitation, there is no sign of governance. Apart from a police barricade on the outskirts of the town, it is either the Gujjar or the Meena community that is ruling the state for the next 50 km.
Mobs armed with lathis and rods stood on the road to block traffic. Trucks laden with foodgrain and industrial goods were also being stopped.
The Gujjars were not even allowing their own to pass. At Sikandara More, in one corner of a barricade of charred remains of two buses and uprooted electricity poles, Birbal Singh pleaded with his Gujjar brethren to allow him to pass to appear for a medical examination in Ajmer. The permission could get him a paramilitary job.
The only graduate in his village Burli, the 20-year-old said: “I have worked hard for this day. The medical examination is on Tuesday…. Can you help'” he pleaded, his call-letter clutched tightly in his hands.
A section of a 10,000-strong mob baying for revenge for the deaths of fellow Gujjars in police firing blocked his path.
“How can you leave your samaj in a lurch when it needs people like you the most'” they said.
“Jobs will be there when we get ST status,” cried Kumer Singh, the leader of the group.
Dismayed, Birbal approached another group armed with lathis. After much persuasion, he was allowed to proceed to Jaipur, about 115 km away, from where he could board a bus to Ajmer. But on foot.
Despite the distance and the rising temperature, his face showed signs of relief. A kilometre from the blockade, Birbal was fortunate enough to get a lift and be dropped at the main bus stand at Jaipur.
The leader of the Gujjars, Kirori Singh Baisna, said the community would end the agitation if a firm assurance was given by Raje on reservation.
“We are not creating trouble. It is the Meena community that is blocking the way to our uplift. It is not a caste war and was never intended to be one. It is about reservations and should be seen in that context.”
Baisna said he was ready to tell local Gujjar leaders to lift the blockade. “But the government must take the first step.”
He agreed late in the afternoon to hold talks with the chief minister. “I expect a benevolent and just resolution to our demands.”
The talks were still continuing at 9 pm.