| Kirori Singh Baisna during a Gujjar protest. (File picture)
June 6: Kirori Singh Baisna, the Gujjar leader who headed his community’s agitation for Scheduled Tribe status, was today charged with murder and criminal conspiracy.
The move came a day after the Supreme Court termed the week-long violence in Rajasthan a “national shame” and asked police chiefs of four contiguous states what action had been taken against protesters who resorted to violence and destroyed public property.
The murder case could be part of the government’s effort to address the court’s concerns.
Keeping in mind the potential for a fresh flare-up, the Rajasthan government clarified late tonight that Baisna would not be arrested till the probe is over.
Information minister Bhawani Singh Rajawat said the filing of the murder charge is a “routine” matter. He added that the FIR would be withdrawn if the charges are found baseless.
Officers at Toda Bhim police station confirmed tonight that the retired colonel and four others had been charged with killing two cops during last week’s clashes between the Gujjars and the state administration. Baisna was also booked for destroying public property and rioting.
He allegedly led a mob of Gujjars that “brutally killed” Dungar Singh Shekhawat of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and Babu Lal of Barmer district police, an officer of Toda Bhim police station said.
Baisna was not available for comment. But Mandata Singh, the only senior Gujjar leader whose phone was not switched off, confirmed that the ex-army officer had not been arrested.
Singh did not rule out trouble, though. “Chief minister Vasundhara Raje had promised that all cases against us would be withdrawn and that new ones will not be registered. She did not give a written commitment, it was oral. If she violates it, there may be more violence,” he said.
Inspector general of police (Bharatpur range) Hemant Purohit was quoted by PTI as saying that the case was registered on May 29. Cases against thousands of protesters were also filed at Toda Bhim police station and in four other districts, he said.
The cases have come to light two days after a truce was called between Baisna and chief minister Raje, who has promised to set up a committee to examine the Gujjar demand for ST status.