Gujjar riots: Life goes haywire…

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 9:40 PM in ,

It’s easy for our vote-athirst politicians to trigger off rows regarding reservations. Following in their footsteps, it’s even easier for a certain segment of civilians to get together and create a havoc to attract media attention and to get their baseless demands fulfilled. Now I’m not here to bash the changing role of the media in today’s India, cause that topic deserves a different post altogether. I’m here to ‘throw light’ on the physical and mental traumas that we, the aam-admi, are made to go through during these times of crisis.

Anyone with a speck of alertness is aware of the whole ordeal that Rajasthan was made to go through recently. Now it so happened that I was in Jaipur around that time and was planning to return to Delhi on 30th may for my exams that kicked off from the 2nd of june. A day before the 30th, I had booked a Volvo ticket and was all packed to leave for ‘the city of djinns’ the next day. When I switched on the t.v. at night, first stir of the ensuing riots was hogging the headlines. Not anticipating it to blow up into a full-fledged revolt, I sat back comfortably and relished my dinner.

Next morning, when I switched on the t.v., reports of a blocked NH-8 caught my eye and I quickly called up the roadways office to confirm if my bus was still going. It wasn’t. Infact all the buses from jaipur to delhi had been cancelled… the highways were blocked with the protestors. The magnitude of the protests soon sunk in and I frantically left home to get myself rail or air tickets for the same day in a hope to still make it on time for my exams. Turned out that all trains had been cancelled as well and I was left with only one option to make it back on time- air. The scene at the airport betrayed the hopelessness of commuters who were virtually stuck in the city because of a ‘transportation-breakdown’. Because I’m very frugal with money, I first checked with the low-cost carriers to know if their flights were still going. Some flights had already left early in the morning and the rest were all booked to the brim. Soon it became very clear that I wasn’t reaching the capital today in any case. A call to my travel agent didn’t help much either. Reluctantly, I asked if tickets for the 31st were still available and fortunately got a reply in the affirmative. Timings for Go-Air were very convenient and I decided to opt for the same. My eyes literally popped out when the guy at the counter told me the prices (withheld to condense public outrage)! I asked him to wait for two minutes while I made up my mind. I started scanning all my options--- there was no way I was reaching delhi today by road, so there was no point fretting over that fact any longer. I figured if it essentially has to be tomorrow, then I might as well just pay some extra bucks rather than swing in the air of uncertainty and wait for the roads and rails to clear up (the riots had gathered steam by then and all fingers pointed in the direction of a political deadlock). While I was scrutinizing all my options, a now-familiar voice from the counter pulled me out of my musings and announced- “Only two seats left on tomorrow’s flight, ma’am, and their prices just went up from rs.x to rs.x + 300. You should make up your mind fast.” Shucks! Zap… I asked him to give me a ticket immediately before the prices shot up any further. With the ticket clutched tightly in my hands, I strolled my way back to the car.

Now to explain how much agony the whole episode caused is out of question. There’s no way I can explain how it feels to see days melt away so fruitlessly just 2 days before your exams and absolutely no way to tell how much it hurts to pay 8 times more than what you usually would to get from one place to another. Seeing airlines cash in on our helplessness didn’t make it any easier. The hole in my pockets just got deeper the next day when I was charged another grand at the check-in counter on account of my bag being ‘20 kgs heavier than the prescribed limit’ (dont blame me, I was carrying my exam books and there was no way I was leaving them behind). On reaching delhi, I had to pay another couple of hundreds to get from IGI airport to my place in a pre-paid taxi. And not just me, I saw a host of people going through the similar not-so-obvious torture. All of this… simply because this one class of people were defying laws somewhere and enforcing a bandh on a matter as trivial as shifting from one backward category, already reserved under the tainted reservations, to another…

Hail the politicians.

Hail the ‘intelligentsia’ who prompt such riots.

And most of all, hail us civilians who actually manage to live through the whole ordeal with no apparent fault of ours! Life cant get any ‘fairer’ than this x-(


Bodhisattva says:

The line you follow in what you wrote essentially boils down to :"A caused B and Bin turn caused C". but this case is not that simple. Travellers are the butt of all jokes, always.And that is how things will be. I can testify to being stranded on the Jaisalmer highway for 13 hours just because a bull was lying band in the middle of the road, and the area being Bishnoi dominated nobody wo-uld dare to even ask the animal if he even considered flicking his tail so that at least a few bikes could move on.

who were the gujjars fighting? the Meenas? the police? or themselves? and who were you fighting? the roadways for cancelling the bus? Go Air for the exorbitant ticket? of th AAI for charging for your baggage? tell me, how many people in Jaipur who had to come to Delhi for reasons maybe as important as yours got stranded. How many of the same ppl could AFFORD to fly out. Your life did not go haywire. it is aa William Dalrymple would say, quite 'tip top'.

I found a grudge element in the piece, which according to me was a little immature. a myopic view of the situation substantiated with the usual Yashika flair. the only tip, if i be worty enough to dinsense it, would be to go deeper into the phenomenon next time you plan a piece as this.

There were more than a few lessons to be learnt from this episode.
The more important ones being
-Regardless of how homesick you keep getting, rushing back to jaipur is not always the best possible option.
-Dragging along truckloads of study material is even worse
-Everything comes for a price. Even time
By the way where do your loyalties lie.. with the gujjars or the meenas? And dont tell me that you support neither :P

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@bodhisattva: bo!! you kept your word!
ahem... lemme clear my stand here... this piece was not meant to explore the various facets of the entire crisis... ahem. it was meant to showcase the tale of a small fraternity(represented by yours truly) of the many thousands struck by the riots. so myopic it had to be. keep visiting :)

@arunabh: all three points taken! and im afraid you guessed it right... my loyalties lie with neither of the two. 'say NO to reservations' ahoy!

The first thought that came to my mind on reading ur post was one sms i received recently pointing out 'The height of frustration'. & on going through those 'serious of very unfortunate events', i think nothing can beat this for sure!
well I hv been through such awkard situations too in the past too but then their was a valid reason for them too! But this was absolutely uncalled for: a reservation riot affecting life of aam aadmi & in such a terrible way. This can't go on for ever. This time it was you who suffered, next time it could be me or anyone else for that matter!

Ur post also reminded me of the movie "Babel", where events in one part affects other parts also...

A thought-provoking post indeed...

You know what would have been mind numbingly horrific? If you reached Delhi and learnt you're exams had been cancelled!!!
Arrghhh!!![ignore this part, i'm a tad sadistic]
cool post by the way, i hate hartals and strikes in general, but used to love them in school when they got me holidays!

The ridiculous thing about these riots is that half the people protesting don't know the cause...some days back, when one of the news channel correspondent asked a protester, he replied meekly,"hume paisa mila tho hum agaye"

Nice post!:)

Anonymous says:

I wznt relly following the riotz wen they initially broke out as thy wre confined to raz.But the moment the riot spilled to my pyaari dilli.. i wz like.. wtf iz happning ? And bloody hell!! theze men wre fighting over who shud be an ST and who shdnt?
I alwyz believed and still believe tht being something like tht shud be derogatory. Honeztly, whtz ailing our nation ?
btw am arunabh'z buddy here


@jitin: thanks for supporting my cause, chum. this was the kinda response i was hoping to ellicit by penning down this post. wish we cud do something abt the whole, sad situation... :(
keep visiting :)

@bullshee: first things first, uber interesting name! you come garnished with sadistic tendencies indeed ;)
welcome to my blog!

@aneesha: eewkes and thanks!!! ridiculous attitudes na!

@prachi: arunabh has made me like REALLY famous, huh?!? and i know you're his buddy... have been seeing ur comments on his posts since forever now!
and know what the whole deal abt the reservation riots is?? suddenly everybody wants to be backward... :D
keep visiting :)
do u blog??

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This comment has been removed by the author.

You are real lucky that you could afford a flight... wonder how many people would have stuck in spite of more serious commitments... just saw the movie "parzania" some time back ... your blog rekindled some old thoughts about the "danga" mechanism and mob behavior ... it might have been a real terrifying experience to have seen one !!

well! u may or may not believe but when I had come to know about this riot thing, u were the first person to come to my mind, though I didnt even ask ur well being....thanks to my sickening office schedule!!
And I can understand how much tension u went thru...I heard the riots were provoked by congress coz they wanted to create a blemish in Vasundhara's good governance tag! whatever the reason, the gujaars created havoc in delhi too, though for a very short period, u guys had to bear it for a much longer time, My dad was coming to delhi frm dehradun the day it all started and he didnt even know abt it....so I was so disturbed till I got to hear from him that he has arrived safely,.he was coming in a bus...

@sai: mobs n riots benefit nobody... affect everybody, in some way or the other. sad that i had to go thru what i went though. but hey... i learnt a lot. like for one, leave youe hometown atleast a week before your exams :)

@richa: pardon accepted! and lucky your dad that he cud make it back safely. think abt me... the two cities affected were delhi n jaipur.... n i gotta sift between both regularly :(
keep visiting :)

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