As Jats in Haryana prepare to launch another stir from June 5, the state government is making efforts to prevent a repeat of the situation that unfolded during the agitation in February which saw violence and the death of 30 people.
The Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) has called for a stir across all districts seeking fulfilment of several demands, the prime being reservation for the community. With the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the Haryana Government’s decision to grant reservation to Jats and five other communities in jobs and educational institutions under the newly created Backward Class ‘C’ category, the protests have assumed importance.
The Jats had earlier planned a protest on June 5 as part of the demand for reservation in several other states. Demands included the release community members who had been arrested following the stir in February and compensation for those who died during the violence: of the 30 dead the Haryana government has announced compensation for only nine claiming that they were innocent. Questions are being raised upon how the government arrived at this conclusion and the verdict on the others.
The protests in February had witnessed widespread violence causing loss of property amounting to crores. Following the protests, the government introduced a bill in the Haryana vidhan sabha to give reservation to the Jats along with Jat Sikhs, Tyagis, Rors, Bishnois and Muslim Jats. The High Court has stayed the Bill. This has infuriated the Jat community with the leaders questioning the intentions of the government. They say that the government did not defend the provisions for reservation properly in court.
While a section of the Jats ready for the protests, another section wants to explore all legal options before resorting to protests again. In the past few days, apart from the ABJASS holding meetings to prepare for June 5, panchayats in several villages have extended support and are ready to sit on dharnas.
The president of the ABJASS, Yash Pal Malik has said that the protests would be peaceful. Committees are being constituted at the district level to coordinate the protests. This time, the plan is to hold the protests in villages instead of towns. According to Malik, the Jats were attacked in town and cities in February and not in the villages where the protests took place peacefully.
The report of the Prakash Singh Committee that was set up by the government to probe the incidents of violence in February has made scathing remarks about how top functionaries in the government failed to perform their duties. Several officers have been indicted in the report by the former DGP.
To ensure that there is no repeat of such a situation, the Haryana government has deployed paramilitary forces in several sensitive districts including Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind and Kaithal, the hub of the protests. An assessment of the situation is being made at district levels and in case the need arises, more troops will be sought. Paramilitary forces have also been deployed to prevent a repeat of the siege of the Munak canal which cut off water supply to Delhi.
A case of sedition has been registered against Yash Pal Malik and around 125 more persons in Jind district for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches during a meeting held on May 25. These leaders are likely to be arrested if there is any violence. Section 144 has been imposed in district Sonepat and the sale of loose petrol and diesel has been banned.
A protest by ABJASS has been planned for UP on June 8. The community has threatened that if the government takes any action against the Jats in Haryana on June 5, protest will be held the next day in different states.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Monday that the Jats had given an assurance that the protests will be peaceful. “We have had talks with them and they have assured us they will hold dharnas in a peaceful manner. In a democratic set-up, everyone has a right to put his views in a peaceful manner. We cannot deprive them of that,” he stated.
The details of movable and immovable assets of the Jat leaders are being verified and dossiers prepared. The leaders have been warned that in case of damage to any public property, they would be held financially accountable.
Learning from its past mistakes, the state government has set up a State Level Riot Control Room on the ninth floor of the civil secretariat. It will function round the clock and would be manned by inspector or sub-inspector level officer.