Haryana Police on Friday opened fire to disperse a mob in Rohtak after Jat leaders refused to withdraw their agitation till a legislation is passed giving quota to the community under OBC. Several rounds were also fired outside Maharshi Dayanand University.
The protesters accused Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of resisting their demand as he was “not from the community” even as the state government called an all-party meeting to end the impasse.
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Normal life has been severely affected in various parts of Haryana with the agitation affecting supplies of essential commodities like milk, vegetables, LPG and petroleum products in several parts of the state including Rohtak, Jind, Bhiwani, Sonepat and Hisar. More than 56 trains have been disrupted across Haryana and bus service also badly affected.
Internet and mobile SMS services have been suspended indefinitely by authorities in Rohtak district in the wake of the protests by Jat community which is demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions under OBC category.
The agitators, who have rejected Khattar’s offer of enhancing quota for economically backward classes, blocked several roads in Panipat affecting vehicluar movement to Uttar Pradesh.
Haryana Roadways suspended its bus services on many affected routes in view of the agitation.
The administration has imposed prohibitory orders in the entire Rohtak district, banning assembly of five or more persons.
The protests have disrupted road and rail traffic with the worst hit being the Rohtak-Jhajjar region, the epicentre of the protests, besides Bhiwani, Sonipat and Hisar.
The Jat leaders showed no signs of relenting and claimed that they will seek “support” from the community leaders from Uttar Pradesh.
“We are not going to withdraw our agitation till our demand is met. We will intensify our agitation in other parts of the state, including Panchkula and Yamunanagar,” All India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti’s national president, Yashapal Malik, said.
“We want BJP government in Haryana to bring a legislation in the upcoming budget session to include Jats in OBC category. They should bring a law in the Assembly with regard to Jat reservation and get it passed,” he said.
“All political parties including Congress, BJP and INLD are in support of our demand. Only Haryana CM has problem in giving reservation to Jats,” he said.
Malik accused Khattar of having “casteist mentality” as he did not belong to the community.
“Khattar has ‘jatiwadi mansikta’ (casteist mentality) because he is not a Jat. He is trying to prove himself as a leader of non-Jat people in the state by way of not giving reservation to Jats as was done by former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal in the past.
“His (Khattar) stand is against party line. The problem in Haryana today arose because of his mentality,” Malik alleged.
Malik said that Rajasthan and Maharashtra governments had brought legislations in their respective assemblies to grant reservation to Gujjars and Marathas respectively.
Meanwhile, the order for the suspension of mobile Internet and SMS services indefinitely in Rohtak were issued by Rohtak Deputy Commissioner D K Behera in the wake of Jat agitation spreading in the district.
The order said it is feared that anti-social elements are spreading provoking pictures through Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and SMS which could further disturb the law and order situation in the district.
However, mobile services will continue in the district.
Meanwhile, Khattar today called an all-party meeting here today to discuss Jats’ demands and how to end their agitation.
Haryana Cabinet yesterday had appealed to the agitators to call off their protest in the larger interest of the state.
Protesting Jat and Khap leaders had already rejected the state government’s offer which had announced enhancement of the reservation quota under EBC and the annual income ceiling from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
It had also announced an enhancement of the quota of reservation for Economically Backward Classes in the state from 10 to 20 per cent but the community remained adamant about their demand for reservation under OBC category.
(With inputs from PTI)