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Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 16:25 UK

Tribe seals Rajasthan quota deal

Gujjars vandalise railway tracks - photo 23 May
Gujjar protesters recently broke up railway tracks

The government of the Indian state of Rajasthan and leaders of the Gujjar community say they have reached a deal over access to jobs and education.

More than 40 Gujjars have been killed in clashes with the security forces in the past month as the tribe has protested over the issue.

Under the terms of the deal, the politically influential Gujjar tribe will be put into a special category.

Officials say this will provide them with better employment opportunities.

Disrupted

The BBC's Narayan Bareth in the Rajasthani capital, Jaipur, says the deal has been welcomed by most Gujjars, even though they did not get their central demand, which was to be granted tribal status.

Our correspondent says that this would have given them even better access to jobs and education than the special category status which the state government awarded them on Wednesday.

Doctors carrying out post-mortem on Gujjar protesters in Pilupura village, Rajasthan
Gujjar protests have recently turned violent (Pic: Shahzad Khan)

Under the terms of the deal, millions of Gujjars in Rajasthan will be in the same category as the gypsy community - known as Banjaras - and the shepherd community - known as Rebaris.

In recent weeks Gujjar demonstrators have disrupted rail services between Jaipur and Delhi.

Last month, the Rajasthan government announced an aid package worth $60m (30m) for the community but this was rejected.

The Gujjar community leader, Kirori Singh Bainsla, said he was fully satisfied with the outcome of the latest talks.

"The agitation will be called off," Mr Bainsala told reporters in Jaipur.

The Gujjars are currently considered to be part of Rajasthan's second-lowest socio-economic group, known as Other Backward Classes, a step up from the Scheduled Tribes and Castes, the lowest classification.

Correspondents say that Wednesday's announcement creates a special category for them within the Other Backward Classes.

The central government made it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of caste soon after India won its independence.

But correspondents say that the influence of the caste system remains powerful, which is why the government set quotas for jobs and university places.


SEE ALSO
India tribe death toll increases
26 May 08 |  South Asia
Indian tribal clashes kill dozens
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Five dead in India tribal clash
23 May 08 |  South Asia
Why the Gujjars are so aggrieved
31 May 07 |  South Asia
Despair of the discriminated Dalits
05 Dec 06 |  South Asia

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