Hundreds of people from the Gujjar community in Rajasthan are protesting at railway tracks at Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, demanding implementation of the 5 per cent reservation that was promised to them by the state government. The protest has affected the train movement on the Delhi-Mumbai line.
While four trains have been terminated earlier than their destination, seven have been diverted and one cancelled by Railways keeping in mind the agitation.
The protesters marched to the tracks in Sawai Madhopur, about 150 km from state capital Jaipur, this evening.
“We want 5 per cent reservation. The government hasn’t responded to my request. So, I am going to start an agitation,” Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla told news agency ANI.
The state government has formed a three member committee, all cabinet ministers, to lead talks with the Gujjar community.
Today’s agitation comes nearly a month after 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections in the general category in jobs and education was cleared by parliament. The move was introduced as a constitutional amendment, passed in parliament and enacted in a matter of days.
However, the validity of the 10 per cent quota will be examined by the Supreme Court. The government has argued that since the bill provides reservation on basis of income, not caste, it was not subject to the 50 per cent bar.
The Gujjars say if 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward can be passed, then why not for them.
The Rajasthan government had assured the Gujjar community of 5 per cent reservation in a special category in 2017 after a bout of agitation. It had planned to expand the reservation for Other Backward Classes from 21 per cent to 26 per cent and give 5 per cent reservation to Gujjars and other castes. After the expansion, the total reservation in the state would have crossed the 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court.
The bill to this effect, which was introduced in the monsoon session of the state assembly in 2017, was put on hold by the Rajasthan High Court after an appeal against it.
The community has held four agitations for reservations from 2007 up to 2015, where they blocked rail and road traffic. In 2007 and 2008, more than 70 people had died in the clashes during the agitation. In 2010 and 2015 though, only rail and road traffic was disrupted.