As the Jat community in Haryana begins a second round of agitation demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutes from today, the state administration is on high alert and security has been increased in sensitive districts. At least 30 people were killed and over 300 injured in the violent protests in February.
The call for the renewed agitation has been given by the All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS). Some other sections of the Jat community and its leadership have distanced themselves from the agitation call.
Unlike the last time, the protesters say they will not block highways or railway lines and stay away from cities, but have warned of intensifying the agitation if their demands are not met. Dharnas are planned in 15 districts in the state.
Jat leaders spear-heading the agitation have assured the protests will be peaceful, but the state government is not taking any chances. 55 companies of central security forces will help the state police in patrolling highways, railway tracks and important government offices and public places in sensitive areas.
The Munak canal that supplies most of Delhi’s water will also be guarded by central troops. It was taken over by protestors for three days in February, leaving Delhi without water till the army retook control.
A 24-hour helpline (0172-2740390) has been set up in Chandigarh. Mobile internet and bulk SMSes have been banned in Sonepat and Rohtak.
Prohibitory orders banning large groups from gathering have been enforced in sensitive areas in Jhajjar, Sonepat, Rohtak, Panipat, Hisar, Fatehabad, Jind and Kaithal districts – and also near National Highways and railway lines.
Dharnas are planned in 15 villages in as many districts in Haryana – Mayyad of Hisar, Dhanana of Bhiwani, Atela in Dadri, Jasiya in Rohtak, Dhani Gopal in Fatehabad, Nathusari Chaupta in Sirsa, Jhanj Khurd in Jind, Ballaganv in karnal, Titarmod in Kaithal, Jainpur in Kurukshetra, Matloda in Panipat, Pranpura-bawal in Rewari, Anaaj Mandi in Sonipat and Hussainimod in Ambala.
In February, the jat agitation had paralysed the state for nearly a week. Shops and malls were set on fire, transport was cut off, and according to some estimates, business worth $5 billion was lost.
Last month, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP led the effort to clear a new law that includes the caste as a beneficiary of affirmative action policies. But the Punjab and Haryana High Court has put the law on hold because it busts a prescribed cap of 50% on quotas.
February’s violence was investigated, on the orders of the government, by Prakash Singh, a former top police officer in Uttar Pradesh. His report, given to the High Court, has indicted senior cops and bureaucrats for dereliction of duty, in some cases because the officers were Jats themselves.