Jaipur. After blocking highways and railways, some Gujjar leaders are reportedly planning to block the airways to pressurize the government into accepting their demands for reservations in jobs. Protesters are busy joining ends of one lathi (bamboo stick) with another to create high-rise lathis that could reach for the skies and block the path of airplanes flying above.
Gujjar leaders believe that unless the “elite” class traveling by air is made to feel the pain, their demands would go unheeded.
“Unless the IAS officer traveling in the executive class gets the bamboo, he won’t care,” emerging Gujjar leader Lath Maar Pilot said, as he showed a 1200 feet long lathi that was being clubbed with more lathis at both the ends.
LM Pilot hopes to create at least five lathis that are over 30,000 feet tall and use them to block the air traffic by shaking them vigorously across the route of flying aircrafts.
“We have been recording the routes and timings of various planes passing over our head as we have been sitting on railway tracks for the last three days. We’d raise our lathis just in time so that the routes of planes can’t be changed,” Pilot disclosed his strategy, and warned that his supporters would be forced to “poke” the planes with lathis if the flying machines don’t apply brakes and take a U-turn after the lathis are raised.
Even as lathis were being joined together at war footing in Jaipur, authorities in New Delhi seemed clueless and careless about the impending threat. “It’s a law and order problem and it’s the subject matter of the state government,” Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told a group of private airlines operators.
However the private operators have decided to address the issue themselves. Vijay Mallya, Chairman of Kingfisher Airlines has decided to airdrop thousands of Kingfisher 2011 Calendars near the protest site, hoping to disorient the protestors with pictures of shapely girls in skimpy clothes.
“But that might give the protestors wrong ideas and they might start poking the planes with uncontrolled excitement afterwards, thus hoping to pluck down air hostesses,” warned Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways, who favored delaying and canceling the flights randomly to confuse and harass the waiting Gujjars.
But it seems that the airlines might not need to do anything as lately cracks had started appearing amongst the Gujjar leadership over this latest form of protest. Leaders like Kirori Singh Bainsla have expressed fears that joining all the lathis to make just a few tall ones would end up disarming the protestors and thus weaken the cause.
“Let’s keep squatting on the railway tracks,” Colonel Bainsla said, “Mamata Banerjee might eventually start supporting us if we continue to be a pain in the neck for the government and the society.”