Recently, we have seen many quota-related protests in the country. Whether it be Maratha reservation in Maharashtra or Patidar quota in Gujarat. Recently, another such reservation-related protests have rocked the country, namely the Gujjar quota protests. The Gujjar community members hit the streets of Rajasthan on February 9 demanding 5 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes. The protest had turned violent on Sunday when shots were fired and police vehicles were torched in Dholpur district.
Who are Gujjars and what is their demand?
Gurjar or Gujjar is a pastoral agricultural ethnic group. The Gujjar community are demanding a lower scheduled tribe status, instead of their current OBC (Other Backward Class) status and a 5 percent quota in government jobs and educational institutes.
In the past
This is not the first time the Gujjar community members have protested. Violence erupted in Rajasthan in 2008 when police fired on protesters belonging to the Gurjar community who were demanding a scheduled tribe status, instead of their current OBC (Other Backward Class).
Thousands of protesters blocked a rail route between Delhi and Mumbai. Highways had also been blocked, and state authorities cancelled many buses. Getting almost nothing from the government for their demand of a 5% quota for government jobs, Gurjars again went on to agitate in 2010. They jammed trains on the Jaipur-Delhi and Mumbai-Delhi routes. Unlike the unrest in 2008, there was no violence in 2010. In May 2015, a similar protest was organised and over thousands of Gujjars blocked railway tracks halting train traffic. On 24 May, the Indian Army was called in to help calm the violence as another 15 people were killed when police shot at a mob of protesters trying to torch a police station in Sikandra.
Who is leading the protest?
The Gujjar community protests are led by Kirori Singh Bainsla. Bainsla is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army. He also contested 2009 Lok Sabha elections on BJP ticket and lost by 317 votes.
What did the Rajasthan government do?
Last year, on October 26, the BJP government led by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had passed a Bill, which increased Other Backward Classes (OBCs) quota from 21 percent to 26 percent. In December 2018, the state government had also approved one percent reservation for Gujjar and four other OBCs as per the Supreme Court-imposed 50 percent quota ceiling.