Rajasthan Gujjars call off agitation

The Gujjar community in Rajasthan late Wednesday called off their 17-day-old agitation for reservation in government jobs and said they had reached an agreement with the state government after several rounds of talks. 'We have called off the agitation. We have reached an agreement,' said Roop Singh, spokesperson of the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti that has been spearheading the agitation for five percent reservation in government jobs since Dec 20. A 36-member Gujjar team held another round of talks Wednesday with the Rajasthan government even as the community continued to block rail tracks for the 17th day as part of their protests.
The delegation led by retired army colonel K.S. Bainsla held negotiations with a three-member ministerial committee to end the dragging row. The community's campaign for five percent reservation in government jobs entered its 17th day Wednesday, disrupting train services in parts of the state. Large groups of Gujjars squatted on rail tracks near Bayana in Bharatpur district -- a community stronghold -- and blocked trains. A meeting between Bainsla and Rajasthan government officials had remained inconclusive Tuesday. The Rajasthan government in 2009 announced five percent reservation for Gujjars and 14 percent for the economically backward classes, taking the total reservation in the state to 68 percent -- more than the 50 percent cap set by the Supreme Court. In a ruling Dec 22, 2010, the high court struck down the job quota for Gujjars. The Gujjars had staged violent protests between 2006 and 2008 in which many lives were lost.