Kirori Singh Bainsla

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Kirori Singh Bainsla

Kirori Singh Bainsla is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army and in 2007 led a caste protest movement in the state of Rajasthan.[1] This demanded reservation in government jobs for the Gurjar community in Rajasthan. He leads the Gurjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti which has led the wave of protests across the state.[2]

Protest marches organised by the movement have at times led to violent clashes with civil authorities and have been accompanied by extensive property damage. In 2007, Bainsla led a protest in which 27 people were killed in clashes with police,[3] and as of May 2008, a total of 43 people had died in such clashes, most of them protesters.[4] Bainsla has blamed police for the violence.[5] In May 2015, a similar protest was organised by thousands of Gurjars under the leadership of Bainsla.[6]

Bainsla has been prosecuted for his involvement in the protests. Following one one major protest that blockaded Delhi for a day,[7] the Rajasthan High Court issued a notice of contempt against him for allegedly violating a previous order to keep the protests within lawful bounds.[8] After 25 days of protest and five days of negotiations, Bainsla's meetings with representatives of the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, resulted in the Gurjar community being awarded the status of special reserved category.[9] The Gurjars continue to campaign for the special reservation (5%), Vasundhara Raje claimed for.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

After beginning work as a teacher, Kirori Singh Bainsla enlisted in the army as a sepoy, following in the footsteps of his father who served in the British Indian Army. He was married at the age of 14. His wife helped him during the initial years to get ST status for Gurjars. She died in 1996.[3] He fought in the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and was taken a prisoner of war in the latter. His seniors in the army named him the Rock of Gibraltar. He was later elevated to officer rank, and commissioned into the Rajputana Rifles regiment. He rose to be a lieutenant colonel. It has been speculated that his military background might have enabled him to organise the Gurjar protest with such precision and on the large scale which characterised it.[1]

Bainsla has a daughter and three sons. He lives in Hindaun, a tehsil in Karauli district of Rajasthan.[1] He wears the traditional dress of a red turban and white clothing.[5]

He once said that "Only a bullet or a letter (granting the demands) can remove me from here."[1] He says that one of the reasons he is engaged in this cause is because his children are settled and so now he can think of his "greater family".[3]

Demand for scheduled tribe status[edit]

Most of our people are illiterate and living in abject poverty. We want better opportunities. For 12 years, I moved from pillar to post crying hoarse with the demands, but the government never listened. So we had to resort to direct action. As a backward class, we have to compete with 123 caste groups for 27 percent of government jobs. Our turn never comes. But as a tribe, we would fight only 15 other groups for about 7 percent of jobs. So it is more beneficial to be called a tribe, even if it is lower in status.

Kirori Singh in an interview with the Washington Post explained why he demaned scheduled tribe status."[4]

In Rajasthan, Gurjar are officially part of many communities that come under Other backward castes(OBC) category. However, Gurjars have failed to make much progress as they compete with many other well educated communities in the OBC category. Bainsla wants to rectify this apparent disadvantage by registering Gurjars as ST (Scheduled Tribe) - a technically lower status, but one that entitles a community to more government assistance. During the initial days he was marked as "mad man" by his own community for raising such a demand.

In 2007, he withdrew the demand for ST status for Gurjars after talks with the Rajasthan Government. However, some sections of the community felt betrayed and accused him of being an agent of the government. In 2008, he renewed the call for ST status, and a new wave of Gurjar protests have since captured the attention of the whole country and put Rajasthan on standstill.[10] Some media outlets have accused other Gurjar leaders of hypocrisy for their alleged lavish lifestyles, but Bainsla has largely avoided these accusations.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "SUBALTERN GENERAL". www.tehelka.com. 16 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  2. ^ "Raje govt, Gujjar leaders agree to hold talks". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 8 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  3. ^ a b c "The making of Col. (Retd) Kirori Singh Bainsla". Indo Asian News Service. www.aol.in. 4 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  4. ^ a b Lakhmi, Rama (2008-05-31). "Indian Protesters Let Dead Decay". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  5. ^ a b Joychen, PJ (25 May 2008). "Won't budge an inch: Bainsla". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Led by Col. Kirori Singh Bainsla, Gujjars block Rail Route in Rajasthan for Quota in Govt Jobs". news.biharprabha.com. ANI. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Gujjar protesters blockade Delhi". www.deccanherald.com. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-09. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Raj HC issues contempt notice to Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla". www.theindiapost.com. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  9. ^ "Final round: Gurjar leader Bainsla to meet Raje today". www.ibnlive.com. www.ibnlive.com. 17 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  10. ^ "A politically wiser Bainsala". in.news.yahoo.com. 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-06-13. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Lavish in protest". indianexpress. in.news.yahoo.com. 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2008-06-13. [dead link]