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Gujjars agree to continue talks

The founder of the ‘Art of Living Foundation,’ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla in Bayana, Bharatpur, on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: PTI

Sunny Sebastian

Dialogue was on the verge of getting bogged down after Bainsla set conditions

JAIPUR: Gujjar leaders, who put certain conditions for talks with the Rajasthan government in Jaipur, late on Tuesday agreed to continue the dialogue. Indications are that their leader Kirori Singh Bainsla will delegate a team to hold negotiations here on Wednesday. However, the Gujjar camp at Pilupura is yet to confirm this.

The talks on the agitating Gujjars’ demand for grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the community were on the verge of getting bogged down after the first round held at Bayana on Monday. Four government representatives and 37 Gujjar delegates participated in the two-hour meeting and it ended on an optimistic note.

However, earlier on Tuesday Mr. Bainsla said the talks could be resumed only after the arrested Gujjar protesters were released and murder cases against him and others withdrawn.

The government, in its renewed offer for talks, promised Mr. Bainsla that all issues could be discussed and a “mutually agreeable solution” found. “The government welcomes the Gujjar leadership’s decision to resume the talks,” observed Rohit Kumar Singh, State’s Information Commissioner. Indications are that Mr. Bainsla will not join the talks but will send a team.

Ravishankar’s initiative

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar flew down from Jaipur to Bayana on Tuesday to meet Mr. Bainsla. He and his disciples met the Gujjar protesters at Pilupura in the afternoon and returned to Jaipur by helicopter in the evening. “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has come back after appealing to the Gujjars collectively and Mr. Bainsla individually for talks,” Ramdas Agarwal, BJP national treasurer who scripted the “Special Package” for Gujjars a month back, told The Hindu.

“You will get justice through dialogue only, not by violence,” the Yoga Guru was quoted as telling the crowd at Pilupura. “He did not talk about the demands as that was not his mission,” Mr. Agarwal noted.

Before leaving for Pilupura, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Gopinath Munde, who is in charge of the State BJP, met Sri Ravi Shankar at Mr. Agarwal’s residence.