M A I N   N E W S

PM calls for peace
BJP rules out replacing Vasundhara Raje as CM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 2
Concerned about the caste conflict going out of hand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with BJP leaders, including Leader of the Opposition L K Advani, here today impressing upon them the need to restore order in Rajasthan.

Simultaneously, Dr Singh appealed for peace and calm in the state affected by violent protests by the Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status for them amid stiff opposition by the Meena community.

With law and order being a state subject, the Prime Minister said "the events of the past few days in parts of Rajasthan have caused a great deal of pain and distress to large numbers of people. Sadly, many lives have been lost plunging their families into grief.

"I appeal to all the people of Rajasthan and also those in neighbouring states to maintain peace and calm I appeal to all sections of society to desist from actions which may lead to further violence and distress disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens," Dr Singh observed in a statement.

The Prime Minister stressed that all efforts should be made for the release of dead bodies from the possession of the protesters for their funeral. Restoration of peace must be accorded top priority.

The BJP leaders concurred with the Prime Minister that peace must be restored but ruled out the possibility of replacing Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. BJP President Rajnath Singh conceded that the demands of the Gujjars for Scheduled Tribe status will be considered sympathetically. The Chief Minister was in constant touch with the BJP leadership and talks with various groups were progressing.

The BJP government in Jaipur finds itself enmeshed in a delicate situation in the wake of the clashes between the Meenas and the Gujjars. It is apparent the Chief Minister is biding for time and awaiting reports from all the districts in Rajasthan on the status and other development parameters of the Gujjars before deciding on the issue of recommending Scheduled Tribe status for the Gujjars.

After their meeting with the Prime Minister, the BJP leaders assembled at the residence of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to discuss the prevailing situation in Rajasthan following the violence in the state.

The Gujjar protests in Rajasthan has left 25 people dead mainly in police firing and group clashes.

Raje has informed the BJP central leadership that she was making all efforts to restore peace in Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, the CPM has asked the Centre and the Rajasthan government to take steps to restore peace in the strife torn state. They attributed the present tension to the “opportunist policies” of the BJP.

The CPM appealed to the leaders and members of both the Gujjar and Meena communities to desist from violence and come to the negotiating table to find an amicable solution to the crisis. The party cautioned about the confrontation between the Gujjars and Meenas spreading to other states. Earlier, the CPM had demanded a judicial inquiry into the police firing on the Gujjars and alleged that the Raje government has become notorious for its “heavy handed police repression.”



NSA in 11 districts of Rajasthan

Jaipur, June 2
The Rajasthan government tonight enforced the National Security Act (NSA) in 11 violence-hit districts with immediate effect in the wake of the continuing caste clashes.

The NSA would be in force for the next three months in Bharatpur, Dausa, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Tonk, Bundi, Kota, Baran, Jhalawar, Ajmer and Jaipur, home secretary V.S. Singh told a press conference here.

The district collectors have been empowered to take immediate action against those indulging in damaging national property, including the Railways, airports, buses and public property or staging violence, he said. — PTI



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