Police post and a temporary prison inside the court premises set on fire
Thousands of lawyers continued to protest against the government's alleged indifference to their demands, clashing violently with the police for the second consecutive day here, leaving over 50 persons injured, and taking the two-day injury toll to over 90.
Thursday’s clashes, near the Jaipur district court in the city’s Bani Park area, left 38 policemen and 14 lawyers injured, several private vehicles heavily damaged and a police vehicle torched.
“We tried very hard not to confront them but they kept damaging government property. They set fire to a police post and a temporary prison inside the court premises,” Jaipur police commissioner Bhagwan Lal Soni told The Hindu .
“Even then, we refrained from any tough action. Then, they charged at the police, pelting stones and injuring several policemen, the Superintendent of Police and the Additional SP and torched a police vehicle. So we had to fire some tear gas shells to control the situation,” said Mr. Soni.
On Wednesday, when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was presenting the budget inside the House, agitating lawyers had marched towards the complex to meet Mr. Gehlot and present him with their 14-point charter demanding better pay, subsidised land and government accommodation.
However, the police stopped their march, resulting in violent clashes leaving Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Don Jose with a broken jaw and Shyam Nagar circle inspector Bhopal Singh with a fractured leg.
Following Wednesday’s clashes, the Rajasthan Bar Association had called an indefinite strike, demanding the removal of Mr. Soni and charging him and other policemen with attempt to murder.
The lawyers’ demands include a residential project on subsidised rates, allowance of Rs. 2,000 per month for lawyers with less than five years of experience and the passage of a Lawyers Welfare Act.
“I request the lawyers to maintain peace. We are open to talks with them but they have to be held in a peaceful atmosphere,” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.
“In this year’s budget too, the CM has made provisions of Rs. 10 crore for the Lawyers Welfare Fund,” Minister of State for Home Shanti Dhariwal said.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the “police brutality” and accused the government of being indifferent to the lawyers’ demands and letting the situation spiral out of control.
The BJP likened the police action to the incident in Jaipur exactly 46 years ago, on 7th March 1967, when police firing under the Mohan Lal Sukhadia government left 13 persons dead.
“It is unfortunate that those who fight for justice in the courts are being hit with canes and rubber bullets,” BJP state president Vasundhara Raje said.