Jaipur,25 May:The standoff between Rajasthan government and Gujjars pressing for ST status escalated on Sunday with Chief Minister Vasudhara Raje warning of tough action against violent agitators and Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bhainsla refusing to her for talks.
Toughening her stand, Raje told mediapersons in Jaipur that if loomen and goonda elements who had "infiltrated" into agitating Gujjars ‘ ranks took law into their hand then "none will be worse than us".
"There is a limit to everything and the government will not allow Gujjars to take the state to ransom", she said. "It is shocking that notorious dacoits and goonda elements, wielding arm and ammunition, have joined Kirori Singh Bainsla and are indulging in arson and violence. Such things will not be tolerated," Raje said.
The government will not allow anyone to take the state to ransom and law and order into their own hands, she warned.
She said the government was open for talks to resolve the issue in a peaceful manner and regretted that Bainsla has been rejecting her appeals.
After the press conference, Raje flew to Bayana where she stayed put for about 40 minutes in an attempt to hold talks with Bhainsla who was at Kherawadi, about 15km from Bayana.
Addressing a late evening media conference at Kherawadi, Bhainsla ruled out talks with the state government unless it came out with a letter to the Centre recommending ST status for Gujjars.
He claimed Raje did not come to Bayana for talks with him but to survey the situation there in the wake of the Gujjars’ agitation.
Expressing anguish over the violent incidents that have rocked the state since the past two days resulting in death of 37 people, Raje said there "is a limit to putting up with such violence and arson" and warned of stringent action against those who take the state to ransom.
She said it was very unfortunate that the violence comes in the wake of the 13th May serials bombings that rocked the city and claimed 66 lives.
Defending police firing at Sikandra yesterday resulting in the death of 20 people, Raje said police had to fire in self defence since the gun of a personnel was snatched by an agitator who shot at a constable, injuring his leg.
She accused Bainsla of "betrayed" her trust. "We are sincerely looking into their (Gujjars) demands. I trusted his (Bainsla) words and did not order arrest but he betrayed", the Chief Minister alleged.
"There is a feeling that the (Gujjar) leadership has been taken over by dacoits and goonda elements who do not want any settlement and perhaps Bainsla has come under their pressure," Raje claimed.
Raje alleged "a political party from a neighbouring state was instigating and pumping money" to fuel the violence in the state.
For his part, Bhainsla accused the state government of not being serious about the entire issue and Raje neither spoke to him after coming to Bayana.
"The CM’s visit was just a show. She was in Bayana to check the situation", he charged.
Bhainsla said the "unanimous" decision of Gujjars across the state was that there should not be any talks with the government unless it sends a letter to the Centre recommending ST status for the community.
On allegations that he is harbouring anti-national elements, the Gujjar leader said "I don’t harbour any anti-national elements with me and out of a lot of so many people here, there could have been some people."
He said there is still time for the state government to consider their demand and send the proposal. "Then we will do our best," he added.
On future of the agitation, Bhainsla said the Gujjars would continue with "peaceful" agitation.
As Gujjar protestors vowed to continue their stir, Army deployed in four districts affected by the agitation– Bharatpur, Dausa, Karauli and Sawaimadhopur- conducted flag marches and maintained a strict vigil.
Meanwhile, Four protestors who were injured in police firing at Sikander in Dausa district yesterday, died this morning, taking the toll in two days of police firing and violence to 36.
Bhainsla remained with his community members in a field here near Bayana where hundreds of his supporters vowed to continue their agitation and sat along the tracks of Delhi-Mumbai rail line passing through this area. Twelve bodies of those killed in police firing lay in a field flanking the line.
Gujjar protestors said they were working in shifts to keep their agitation alive and were giving information to the locals in Jaipur about essentials like food and medicines through a public address system.
Personnel of Rajasthan police and paramilitary RAF maintaining a strict vigil at the Samogar railway station, about 1.5 kms from here.
A bus was damaged in Ajmer by the protestors who gave a call for a bandh and a truck set on fire in Kothputli where too a bandh was observed. Protestors
prevented plying of vehicles in towns of Bansur, Paota and Shahpura, adjoining Kothputli in Jaipur division.
Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said that about 1500 personnel of the army along with contingents from paramilitary CRPF and RAF have been deployed in the four districts which have a sizeable Gujjar population.