The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Uneasy truce in Gujjar zone

Jaipur, June 4: The Gujjars called off their six-day agitation tonight after the Rajasthan government agreed to set up a committee to examine their demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

Many protesters on the blocked highways, stunned by the agitation’s sudden end, said the pact was an eyewash but the Gujjar leadership declared itself satisfied.

“I am santusht. Our agitation has borne fruit and things are heading in the right direction,” Kirori Singh Baisna said, apologising to the public for the past week’s troubles.

The agitation claimed at least 26 lives and left most of the Delhi-Jaipur-Agra triangle blockaded. The Dausa-Agra highway blockade was lifted tonight.

“The government will set up a three-member committee headed by a retired judge of the high court…” a tired-looking chief minister, Vasundhara Raje, read out after a six-hour meeting with Gujjar leaders. The panel’s recommendations, to be made in three months, will be forwarded to the Centre.

At the Bhandarej More blockade, protesters felt “cheated”. Umaid Singh Gujjar said: “All they have done is constitute a committee, which after a few months might say Gujjars do not deserve ST status.”

State food minister K.L. Meena was celebrating a “victory” for the Meenas, who are against sharing the ST pie with the Gujjars. “We had told the government it should never write to the Centre recommending ST status for the Gujjars — and the government hasn’t.”

A senior Gujjar leader told The Telegraph: “We had no choice. It was becoming difficult for food to be transported to areas surrounded by Meena villages.”

A Baisna aide said the leadership had been “taken aback” by the support from Gujjars in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. “We were happy but also worried that other communities might spread violence in other states to defame us.”

Delhi today witnessed its biggest siege in living memory when Gujjars blocked traffic on almost every major road out of the capital. Mobs clashed with police and paramilitary on the streets, where smoke from burning buses, tyres and effigies blackened the skyline.

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