New Delhi: The threat of hordes of lathi-wielding, marauding Gujjars laying a siege to Delhi and the neighbouring area of Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad on Thursday triggered panic among administrators, forcing the Centre to put the entire region on high alert and order a massive police deployment in sensitive areas.
The alert went out on Tuesday as Gujjars continued their rampage in Rajasthan and other areas, ripping out rail signalling systems, blocking arterial highways and clashing with police. Although no fatalities were added to the 39 dead in five days of violence, several people were injured in police teargassing and lathi charges.
Protesters demanding Gujjar inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list removed fish-plates and uprooted signals, blocking rail traffic in western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan, delaying 42 trains, forcing cancellation of 10 others, including the Mumbai-bound Rajdhani Express.
Sources said that since the Gujjar unrest was fast reaching NCR, which has already witnessed sporadic protests, the security establishment did not want to leave anything to chance on Thursday when the community has threatened to block traffic.
Meanwhile, three additional army columns (nearly 240 personnel) were rushed to Rajasthan to assist the state police in the violence-hit districts. Earlier, 10 army columns (nearly 800 personnel) had been sent to the state. Besides, 21 companies (nearly 2,500 personnel) of paramilitary forces including Rapid Action Force, CRPF and BSF are also there to assist the civil authorities.
Gujjars have already set up tents in east, southeast and south Delhi along the borders of Delhi and on Tuesday, groups tried to organize themselves and set up road blocks in the city. They blocked the Badarpur-Mehrauli road led by ex-councillor Virender Kasana, around 9am. About 200 people participated in the blockade and burned the effigy of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.
BRACE FOR CHAOS
Areas likely to be affected: South Mehrauli–Badarpur stretch East Chilla village and Patparganj Northeast Rampura, Chandrawal
At present, 12,000 police personnel have been deployed besides the police station staff all over Delhi; paramilitary forces have been put on alert. RAF to be deployed in case of emergency
ROAD, RAIL TRAFFIC TAKE A HIT
Road and rail traffic continued to be disrupted in Delhi for the third day in a row. For the first time, Delhi-Howrah trains were affected. In all, 30 trains arrived late, 12 left well past scheduled time, 10 were cancelled and 7 diverted. Bus services to Alwar and Kota remained suspended. Efforts to reroute buses through Mathura failed as the stretch remained cut off.
Ahead of ‘rasta roko’, roadblocks come up in city
New Delhi: Gujjars on Tuesday tried to organize themselves and set up roadblocks in the city. They blocked the Badarpur-Mehrauli road led by ex-councillor Virender Kasana, around 9am. However, the demonstration was peaceful but traffic was disrupted for a few hours. Makeshift camps of protesters have cropped up near Vikas Marg and Patparganj in east Delhi, Chandrawal in north Delhi and Badarpur in south Delhi.
‘‘We are constantly picketing and patrolling all sensitive areas. We are keeping an eye on trouble-makers and monitoring movement in the border areas of Aya Nagar, Khanpur, Badarpur and Chilla village. An extra platoon of police force has been deployed in all the 120-odd police stations. We are also keeping in touch with all the important Gujjars leaders to prevent any violence in the capital,’’ said a senior police officer. According to police sources, RAF has also been moved in the capital. ‘‘We will be deploying them according to need,’’ the officer added.
Delhi Police commissioner Y S Dadwal is learned to have spelled out his plan to deal with the bandh during a meeting of senior security officials while requesting for a few companies of paramilitary forces. The home ministry subsequently asked CRPF to keep five to seven companies (nearly 900 personnel) of the force on standby.
Meanwhile, Gujjar leaders speaking to TOI said they were going ahead with their ‘‘NCR Roko’’ plan on May 29. ‘‘We have chalked out a plan for ourselves. We plan to deploy people at important junctions depending on our strength in various pockets. We are expecting a strong showing at Ghazipur, Jagatpur, Khichdipur and Chilla village in east and northeast Delhi. In south Delhi, we are planning to be active at the Jorbagh, Badarpur-Mehrauli stretch, Khanpur and Aya Nagar, said Virender Kasana. On Tuesday, they blocked highways and local roads near Dadri and Modinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Sporadic protests were also reported from greater Noida and Gurgaon. The Gurgaon and Ghaziabad lawyers too showed their solidarity with the Gujjars as most of them struck work.
Tuesday’s alert advisories by the Centre were issued after a security review meeting chaired by home minister Shivraj Patil. The meeting also discussed the possibility of imposing National Security Act in Delhi’s neighbouring districts which had a concentration of Gujjars. NSA permits detention of people considered to be a security risk.
The home minister later briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the prevailing situation. The two are also learned to have discussed Raje’s recommendation to grant 4-6% reservation for Gujjars as a denotified tribe without including them in the ST list. The Centre, however, feels that giving Gujjars additional quotas would breach the Supreme Court reservation barrier of 50%.
The Centre’s feeling is that Raje’s solution is untenable as only three caste groups can get reservation benefits — SCs, STs and OBCs. Denotified tribes is only a section of STs who were taken off the ‘‘criminal tribes’’ list drawn up by the British colonizers and as such do not form a category for giving reservations.
Fishplates removed, signals wrecked as trains disrupted
Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN
New Delhi: Rail and road traffic was disrupted for the third consecutive day in the Capital by agitating Gujjars on Tuesday. Rail links were hit as protestors allegedly removed fishplates and uprooted signal systems in a bid to stall rail movement in western Uttar Pradesh. It was also the first day that the New Delhi-Howrah route was affected following the New Delhi-Mumbai route.
At the end of the day, 30 trains arrived late, 12 saw delayed departures, 10 were cancelled and seven others were diverted. While the August Kranti Rajdhani was cancelled, all other Rajdhanis were delayed by four to eight hours. Some other important trains like Lichchavi and Poorva Express arrived 10 hours behind schedule.
The first sign of trouble on the Delhi-Kanpur line came from Dankaur where almost 500 Gujjar agitators from 15 nearby villages assembled around 6.20 am. Their obvious target were the Rajdhanis which were due to arrive in an hour’s time. T
The protestors first removed the fishplates. Not satisfied, they even uprooted the signals. The protestors then allegedly blocked the tracks by by squatting on the lines. It was only after the RPF and the local police reached the area that the protestors backed off around 10.40 am. Meanwhile, all trains approaching Delhi were held up at Tundla, Etawah, Khurjah and Sikohabad.
The railway authorities tried to control the situation by re-routing the trains through Khurjah and Saharanpur. But with a massive pile-up behind, all trains were delayed by an average of six hours. Another rail block at Sakauti around 1 pm effectively ended all hopes of normalisation. This blockade was lifted around 2.30 pm. The Maoists who blew up railway lines in Munger district and the the Jamshedpur rail roko by a local outfit worsened the situation.
Meanwhile, both the Rewari and Kota sections on the Delhi-Mumbai route remained completely closed for the third consecutive day. All trains in this section were diverted through Agra, Bhopal and Nagada. The diverted trains included the Mumbai and Trivandrum Rajdhanis. The cancelled trains included August Kranti Rajdhani and Kota Jan Shatabdi Express.
‘‘I have come to the station in the morning from Srinagar. Now I have been told that the Sapt Kranti Express will depart eight-and-a-half hours behind schedule. I will be missing my cousin’s reception,’’ said passenger Mohammad Gul.
Elsewhere, all bus services to Alwar and Kota from the Capital remained suspended. Efforts to divert Bharatpur buses through Mathura failed as the strech remained cut off. Buses to Jaipur from Bikaner House, though, plyed normally.
‘‘It is almost four days since a bus went to Bharatpur, my home town. I was to go there for a holiday. Now that my holidays are almost over, I have decided to spend the last two days at home,” said Ramlal Meena, a software executive.
TROUBLE ON TRACK
With Gujjars intensifying their stir and refusing to budge from the railway lines, the Gangapur-Bayana section in Kota division remained completely closed on Tuesday for the third consecutive day. As a result, 10 trains were cancelled, 30 trains arrived late, 12 had delayed departure, 7 others were diverted
I 2953/54 August Kranti Rajdhani
I 9019/9019A/9020/9020A Nimach Link Express
I 2963/64 Nizamuddin-Udaipur Intercity Express
I 2415/16 Nizamuddin-Indore Intercity Express
I 9023/24 Firozpur-Mumbai Janta Express
I 2059/60 Nizamuddin-Kota Jan Shatabdi Express
I 2918 Nizamuddin-Ahmedabad Gujarat Sampark Kranti Express
I 2909 Bandra Terminus- Nizamuddin Maharashtra Sampark Kranti
I 9040 Muzaffarpur-Bandra Terminus Avadh Express
I 2941 Ahmedabad-Asansol Parasanath Express
(Following trains have been diverted to the Mathura-Agra-Bhopal-Nagda route instead of the usual Kota-Ratlam-Vadodara route)
I 2951/52 New Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani
I 2925/26 Amritsar-Bandra Terminus Paschim Express
I 2476 Jammu Tawi-Hapa Super Fast Express
I 2472 Jammu Tawi-Mumbai Central Swaraj Express
I 2477 Jamnagar-Jammu Tawi Superfast Express
I 2449 Nizamuddin-Madgaon Goa Sampark Kranti Express
I 2432 Hazrat Nizamuddin-Trivandrum Rajdhani (via Mathura-Agra-Jhansi-Bhopal-Etarsi-Mamad-Kalyan-Roha)
(Trains from east diverted via Khurja and Saharanpur)
I Mumbai Rajdhani (8 and 1/2 hrs)
I Kolkata Rajdhani (4 hrs)
I Sealdah Rajdhani (3 and 1/2 hrs)
I Rajendra Nagar (Patna) Rajdhani (4 and 1/2 hrs)
I Lal Quila Express (11 and 1/2 hrs)
I Lichchavi Express (11 hrs)
I Poorva Express (10 hrs)
I Vaishali Express (9 hrs)
I Sapt Kranti Express (8 and 1/2 hrs)
I Vikramshila Express (7 hrs)
I Kolkata Rajdhani (1 hr)
I Sealdah Rajdhani (2 hrs)
I Vikramashila Express (2 hrs 20 mts)
I Magadh Express (3 hrs)
I Swatantra Senani Express (2 hrs)
I Kaifiyat Express (3 hrs)
I Jharkhand Express (4 hrs)
I Poorva Express (5 and 1/2 hrs)
I Lichchavi Express (6 and 1/2 hrs)
I Sachkhand Express (1 and half hrs)
Source: The Times of India