The Gujjar community, led by Kirori Singh Bainsla, intensified its agitation demanding five per cent reservation in government jobs on Thursday, with hundreds of community members blocking and damaging the railway track connecting Delhi and Mumbai.
“The protesters have damaged parts of the railway track by removing the fishplates,” said Bharatpur collector Ravi Jain.
At the time of writing this report, several trains were in the process of being diverted to alternate routes, with the Gujjars blocking the tracks at Pilupura village in Bharatpur, about 235 km from here.
Four trains running on the Delhi-Mumbai route had to be diverted, including Avadh Express, Patna Express, Mewar Super Fast Express and Ziyarat Express.
Besides, at least nine trains were affected owing to the blockade. These include: Pashchim Express (Amritsar-Bandra), Awadh Express (Bandra-Gorakhpur), Janata Express (Firozpur-Bandra), Azimabad Express (Patna-Ahmedabad), Kota-Patna Express, Kalka-Bandra Express, Ratlam-Mathura Passenger, Mathura-Sawaimadhopur Passenger, Bayana-Mathura passenger.
This was the same stretch that the community had blocked in 2008 during the previous term of chief minister Vasundhara Raje, and later in 2010 under the Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot.
“We are still waiting for the government representative to reach out to us. No one has talked to us yet,’ Bainsla told The Indian Express.
The law and order situation was under control and no untoward incident had taken place, Bharatpur SP Rahul Prakash said.
“About 500-700 Gujjars have reached Pilupura and are blocking tracks,” he said.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said the government was ready for talks with the community leaders.
“What is the point of blocking railway tracks without even talking to the government. We are always ready for talks. We believe in taking all 36 kaums (communities) together and want to protect the interests of everyone,” Raje said here.
Bainsla had launched a “Nyay Yatra” (Justice March) on 11th May, which concluded in Bharatpur’s Bayana earlier this morning. On Thursday, a caste mahapanchayat was convened to decide over the future course of the agitation. Later in the evening, Bainsla led community members to Pilupura, after claiming the government did not reach ou to him for talks.
Since 2007, when the Gujjar community started its agitation from Patoli in Dausa, about 72 people have lost their lives owing to police action.
The agitation, which began with the demand of Scheduled Tribe status for the community, was revived again in 2008 and then in 2010.
The Gujjars have since been demanding five percent reservation in the Special Backward Classes category, within the 50 percent reservation limit. The matter is sub judice at the Rajasthan High Court.