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Impasse over venue of talks

Sunny Sebastian

Gujjars firm on Bayana; government sticks to Jaipur

JAIPUR: Attempts to begin a dialogue on the Gujjar issue hit a roadblock on Saturday when the Rajasthan government and the community leadership remained firm on their choice of venue. However, the bodies of 20 Gujjar victims killed in police firing at Sikandra in Dausa district on May 24 were cremated at a common site in the presence of thousands of people, including the local Congress MP, Sachin Pilot.

Collector Rajesh Yadav told The Hindu on the phone that the cremation was held at Basada village, not far from the site where the Gujjars had been sitting with the bodies, blocking National Highway 11. Pyres were lit simultaneously at 6 p.m. and the rites were performed in an hour. However, the blockade of the highway continued.

Resolution elusive

Even after the disposal of the bodies, an early end to the Gujjar agitation, which has disrupted normal life all over the State, remains elusive.

When Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje reached Bayana on May 25, she expressed her willingness to open a dialogue with Kirori Singh Bainsla, leader of the Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti (Gujjar reservation action committee) there. Mr. Bainsla rejected the offer and insisted that she come to Pilupura, the spot where the protesters were squatting, blocking the Delhi-Mumbai rail route.

Bainsla’s response

A highly placed source in the State government said Mr. Bainsla’s response to the latest invitation for talks was in the form of a three-line letter, which was sent through the representative of a television channel. It said the Gujjar samaj was “ready for talks at Bayana today [Saturday] afternoon onwards.”

“There was no mention of who and how many would represent the community at the talks,” the source said.

The government response, delivered in the form of a letter by Principal Secretary S.N. Thanvi, who is camping at Bayana, curiously did not mention its unwillingness to go to Bayana but sought to know “when it would be convenient for the Gujjar representatives or delegates to come to Jaipur for the talks.” It asked Mr. Bainsla to provide this information at the earliest “so that talks could begin in Jaipur without any further delay.”

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