Gujjars seek Centre’s intervention on quota issue

Gujjars in Rajasthan, demanding reservation in jobs and education, have sought the Centre’s intervention for Ninth Schedule protection to a 2019 State law which accords Most Backward Class (MBC) category for the community. The quota agitation has generated considerable political heat and disrupted public life several times in the State since 2007.

The Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti has demanded that a special session of the Parliament be convened for inclusion of the State Act in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, on the lines of the protection given to a reservation law of Tamil Nadu, and a constitutional amendment be brought to enhance the 50% ceiling on reservation.

The State Assembly had passed the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Amendment Act, 2019, on February 13 last year, creating the MBC category. The four other nomadic communities given the quota benefit along with the Gujjars were Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya.

Sangharh Samiti general secretary Shailendra Singh, who has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said here on Saturday that Gujjars would be forced to launch an agitation against the NDA government at the Centre unless a permanent resolution of the quota issue was found.

Mr. Singh pointed out that the State government had written several times to the Centre with the recommendation that its legislation be included in the Ninth Schedule to protect its from being challenged in the courts. “The Union government and the Parliament have not taken cognisance of the State Act despite several sessions having been convened since February 2019,” he said.

Mr. Singh said Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution were amended to provide 10% reservation to the citizens belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS). The quota has been implemented in Rajasthan as well, taking the total reservation to 64%.

The State government has tried thrice in the past to give 5% reservation to Gujjars as a ‘Special Backward class’, but the legislation was struck down every time by the Rajasthan High Court, which ruled that the quota had not only exceeded the 50% limit, but was also not supported by the quantifiable data.

Gujjars had occupied the Delhi-Mumbai railway tracks in Bharatpur district for 11 days last month with the demand for filling up the backlog posts and giving reservation in the ongoing recruitments. The agitation was called off after an agreement was signed with a Cabinet Sub-Committee with an assurance for steps to safeguard the quota.

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