Gujjar riots 2: Revisited

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 11:31 PM in ,
5th October 2007

(Yeah, this happened a lot of days back but I’m penning it down today cause my writings had taken a beating due to what was going on in my personal sphere. Now after the wind has passed and the dust has settled in a fashion I highly favour… the pen was bound to come out soon).

The incident happened on a perfectly chirpy day when the air deceits you into believing that all would turn out to be fine. Here’s a glimpse into what happened:

10:00 am:
The news headlines are playing and I’m sitting lazily in my living room, brooding over what plagues our country over a cup of coffee. I’m home for vacations and the nitty-gritties of daily domestic life are playing themselves around me. Mom is in the kitchen fixing us a quick breakfast and dad is on the phone spelling out instructions to the engineer about how the new kitchen that we’re getting done should look like. I’m taking it all in with quiet satisfaction at the fact that some things never change… no matter how long you stay away from home. One quick glance at the clock and I realize I need to go pick Rahul, my younger brother, from school. His exams are going on while he’s also trying to recuperate from a sorry medical condition. In my quest not to be late, I quickly finish my coffee, grab the car keys and am on my way.

10:20 am:
Now going to the school was not a problem. Neither did it intimate me of the dangers that lay ahead on my way back. You see that’s the ‘beauty’ of living in a small town… you never assume that you’ll ever get stuck in anything even remotely close to a riot.

I made it on time and after some quick questions about how the exam was, Rahul and I were on our way back. Now anyone who is even sparingly aware of the roads and routes in Jaipur should be able to make more sense of what follows. We were coming back from M.I. Road, where St. Xaviers is located, and were going towards Hawa Mahal, the area around which I live. At the Ajmeri Gate Chauraha, I was waiting at the red light. The traffic in the city has evolved and one might be forced to wait for two, even three, red lights before he is finally allowed to pass through. In normal circumstances, I would object to such long waits and succumb to road rage. But today was different because of two reasons. Firstly because I was happy about the homecoming; and secondly because I was getting to drive daddy’s new car. Glasses up, a.c. and loud music on, I was oblivious to what was going on outside. Two red lights down, it was my turn to move ahead. Now this is where your ears should perk up… out of the blue, I see this huge mob approaching the road from our left. The trajectory was such that while the cars ahead of me could just manage to slip away before the mob arrived… I was amongst the unfortunate few who were left behind. As the mob blocked the way, I realized I had crossed the red light (so there was no turning back) and couldn’t even move ahead because the mob now surrounded my car. Lathis and banners in place, for a second I thought it’s all over. The next few seconds were spent in turning off the music and trying to come in terms with the fact that if nothing else, I’m at least losing my windshield today. Looking at the slogan-shouting, banner-flaunting crowd… I knew no mercy would be spared. My brother was sitting next to me, not fully aware of what was going on. The bemused expression in his eyes just gave way to his confusion, but not the slightest hint of fear. Adding fuel to fire was a media photographer rapidly clicking away pictures of the two of us trapped in the once-cozy confines of our car.

Hmmm… I noticed I was leading a blue car right behind me (the rest had stopped at the red light itself) and decide to take a left turn from there. Left… the direction from where the mob was coming. I still don’t know what prompted that decision but my only bet was to stick to my guns. The car behind me followed. So far so good… the lathis hadn’t hit the windshield yet. Behind me, the motorcyclists were being manhandled. Their bikes were history and their faces were a huge red web of terror.

I weaved my way through the mob… tried talking to a traffic cop who, unfortunately, was as baffled as me. Realizing he wasn’t going to do any good… I looked around for an exit and quickly spotted one at the far end of the road. The challenge: reaching there unhurt. Then the added responsibility of taking care of my brother was weighing down on me. Glasses still rolled up… I took a deep breath and started moving towards the elusive end. A distance of roughly 60 meters had to be covered but the pack of people weren’t making things any easier. I had covered a good 35 meters when, inevitably, fury found me. A group of protestors, seeing a car trying to get away, turned furiously towards us and were about to bombard our vehicle with their lathis when something transpired between us and them. The fury in those angry eyes toned down immediately when they saw a hapless girl behind the wheel and her little brother sitting with a quiet expression on his face.

Now, call it fate or luck or providence or whatever you mortals like to call it--- but the protestors actually made room for us to pass through and I, grabbing the opportunity before they changed their mind, quickly zapped my way to the exit. Looking at the rear-view mirror, I saw that the blue car behind us had also been allowed to pass because the occupants were a harried looking senior couple. Letting out a sigh of relief… we made our way home without even turning back once. Let bygones be bygones!

On reaching home, we narrated what had happened to mom and dad who literally flipped out after hearing the whole description. Evening papers later in the day were full of stories about what was going on in the city. For the uninitiated, I wouldn’t mind giving a lowdown on what the riots were all about. These were the infamous Gujjar Riots. Gujjar is a community in Rajasthan that is demanding ST status to increase the ambit of reservations available to their class. The government, obviously not okay with the demands, is resisting the pressure that the Gujjar’s are now trying to create by initiating a spate of unprecedented riots in the state. In the fray are big Rajasthan MPs and MLAs including hotshots like Sachin Pilot and Nathu Singh Gujjar.

Just to bring it to focus, the Gujjar riots have had a bearing on my existence in the past as well. Read more about it here. One sincere request to the people and government alike is to show better cooperation and at least ensure that normal life isn’t affected due to trivial tiffs and disagreements. Its not pretty, its not convenient, and it almost definitely violates the rules of staying together in a harmonious society.


Hi..well its not really easy to get away with this kind of situation. out of your gut chose a path which eventually saved you. good to hear dat u reached ghar safely. and prior to the description of the main event did mention about the personal sphere. I wonder despite of many activities(CAT being the major one)...still making a tinsel time for riting is commendable. Absolutely i second your opinion on any event causing inconvinience to the public be it any issue is quite obnoxious. Hope Govt and PPl who involve in these demands riots call it watever. shd abstain from making nuisance in the public or disturbing the public. (for dat matter yashi i dont even like this ..."traffic blocking" on ganesh immersion day, im not sure if its so famous in jaipur or delhi but in hyderabad and mumbai its practiced, ne way its not related to your blog but still mentioned.)

'it almost definitely violates the rules of staying together in a harmonious society'
Huh!! Can someone get more Utopian than this?
Btw the entire narrative read like something straight out of some bollywood script :P. So...
Btw crowd mentality sucks..why should a seemingly hapless looking girl be allowed to drive away while guys on bikes are being manhandled ?

Public show of demands by disrupting public life is not the way to be. The govt should:
a) Learn to react to a situation before the concerned people need to resort to disrupting public life.
b) Disruptions and disturbances to normal public life should NOT affect the decisions made or being made. changes in decisions promotes ppl to take their audaciousness to all new levels.
c) Those caught causing public/private property damage should be fined heavily.

Anyways, I am glad that you got through the riots unscathed(you and your brother) and unscratched(the car). And thanks to those gentlemen among the crowd who had some sanity in a violent crowd and allowed you to go through. You showed some strength in fighting on which was very imp. Well, these sort of incidents prepare you to hadle the other challenges in life in a better way. In the end, all's well that ends well.

whoa! easy girl.... you could have been at teh receiving end of some not-so-nice behaviour at the hands of these people who insist they are acting in the interest of what is good for our nation. I dunno if what you did was clever or reckless, I am just glad you escaped unhurt.

Personally i think all these riots are staged... they are just publicity stunts... masterminded by politicians who rope in unemployed people who have nothin better to do than to disrupt a layman's life and feel proud of it... just ask these guys... will any of them even move if they were alone?

its all about mob mentality.the same guy who wouldnt dare open his mouth alone, will not hesitate to burn your house when he part of teh mob, all in teh name of teh country or religion... or in this case... caste! God only knows why we people cannot live and let live? When will we finally come above all this caste business??

I dont think our country will ever truly progress, as long as we are caught in the intricate webs carved by these spidres of politicians and communal leaders.

@elysian world/praveen: nah, ganesh immersion is not that big an ordeal as it is in mumbai n hyberabad... and thank god for that! abt taking out time to write... i told you, writing and me are inseparable. this is the way i relieve myself of bundeled up emotions and bouts of inspiration. im glad my guns didnt ditch me too... cause if they had, i would have been dead meat :(

@arunabh: utopian... yeah, thats my idea of an ideal society. and you call the narrative 'bollywoodish'... i say the whole thing DID feel like a leaf straight outta some bollywood flick. gory and dramatic and scary... i still get gooseflesh when i think about it.
oh... you think we should have been manhandled too?? well we werent cause whatever the circumstances, some humanity shall prevail... does prevail... will prevail... amen.

@kunal: first, kudos for those suggestions. i like how you systematically pen down your thoughts into neat and clear, coherent points. hope some government official stumbles upon my blog and gives them some serious thought. second, i would wholeheartedly support your views (and so would any other citizen/netizen) cause they make complete sense. yeah, im also glad that i surpassed the event and lived to tell the story. for all those who think that "all's well that ends well" is a cliche... im a living example as to how its a lot more than just that :)
keep visiting.

@sugar&spice/aditi: even i dont know if it was clever or reckless, but what i do know is, is that it was the only option i was left with. standing there, becoming an easy prey to manhandling didnt seem like a prudent choice. Staged riots... maybe you're right. This reminds me of how our army works as well. The two soldiers who shoot each other when standing on the opposite sides of the border might just sit down together for a drink if they happen to meet each other in a bar instead of the battlefield. its totally unnecassary and utterly mindless. im a staunch supporter of non-violence n world peace. agitations, riots, public demonstrations, mob fury, even wars make little sense to me. we fight for what doesnt belong to us, we fight for what we think should rightfully stay with us... why cant the world be content with just what they have and let go of all the greed that now grips everyone in its sharp claws?? politicians are running after votes and money, gujjars are running after more easy seats during admissions... merit has taken a beating and everyone is looking for a shortcut. as a country, we seem doomed :(

heya...first of all ur writing style is awesome...i could imagine myself being dere..n ya must admit.it was really a narrow escape from what could have turned out to be the worst tragedy..n ya applaud for you for not losing your courage and presence of mind in such a situation..its high time that government should realize its responsbility in controlling frenzied mad and the step should cum before these ppl endager the life of residents...

Whoa...Things do seem to happen to you...Quite fortunate that you escaped unscathed... Didnt the Supreme Court ban all public demonstrations recently unless they were sanctioned in advance and had police protection? If that's the case, it's really sad that they are doing nothing now to make sure it gets enforced...

I guess the next time someone wants to find out "hot" action spots of the day in Delhi/Jaipur, all they need to do is follow you :)

@sheetal: thanks! and true re. just hoping others are not made to go through a similar ordeal. anyway, keep visiting :)

@by toutatis!!/ashwin: i DO NOT know how i get myself involved in such sticky situations all the time, but i do. and thats sad. actually on second thoughts, its not. atleast it gives me something to blog about! anyway anyway, if there was such a supreme court order... you think it would be that simple implementing it in a country like ours? NO, sir! but you keep visiting :)

Hi.I just happened to glance at ur blog and notice that my blog is on your blogroll. Do we know each other ??

hi yashika, i am a beginner in this world of blogosphere. your experience is really synonymous with thousands of people whose daily life is badly disrupted by all the strikes, bands etc in the name of public support for their mean issues. our judiciary should take stern actions to make these strikes a criminal offense. but after what happened in Tamilnadu (a band even after it was declared illegal), i am surely running out of ideas!!

This one just boomranged..!!
Its amazing how you keep finding yorself into such traumatic situations. And this 'revisited' edition is even more heart-rending!
I must say you and your brother have been very lucky to get out of this smoothly! Because this really was a close shave! Yes, its indeed not humanity as you pointed out!

And I am not really thrilled about what the state government has been doing all these days..!!
That you had to go through all this for the second time is testimony enough of the pathetic state of condition!

Hope there is no third part coming...

And to end it on a positive note:
"All is well that ends well"

P.S. And I can see that 'yashikaworld' is attracting quite a few new visitors! Hmmm...
Any guesses who is making you famous?

It's lucky you and your bro escaped unscathed from that scene!

Pity our country has so much of discrimination still so rampant in spite of all the hi-fi technology and globalization that has taken over it.

Here's to the eradication of communal riots in India one day.Cheers!

@abhi!: its a small small world :D

@sumit: he he... guess thats the 'beauty' of living in a country where the word 'official' is like a slap on the face. you keep visiting n a warm welcome on the blogging bandwagon :)

@jitin: are you implying that YOU are getting me all these new visitors? well in that case, thanks! also... i hope this series sees no third part now! im kinda tired too of all the riots chaos surrounding my life these days :(
in any case, keep visiting n lets hope humanity prevails :)

@sameera: you're over-optimistic but hell, what do i have to lose? cheers :D

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