DURING THE “active” phase of the Jat reservation in Haryana between February 7 and 22, a total of 58 alerts were sent by the State CID to district administrations of seven districts giving “sufficient inputs about developments and build up of Jat agitation”. Further, the intelligence agencies exchanged 755 phone calls, 46 WhatsApp messages and eight SMSes with officials during this period. The intelligence inputs, were, however ignored by the district administrations. Rather, the district officers were “generally hesitant, unsure and diffident” in initiating action.
This is highlighted in Volume Two of Prakash Singh Committee Report on “Role of Officers of Civil Administration and Police During the Jat Reservation Agitation”. The 40-page report, accessed by The Indian Express, highlights the role of intelligence agencies during the agitation and how the inputs provided were ignored by the police and civil administrations in different districts. The violence during the agitation led to loss of 30 lives and damage to property worth hundreds of crores. The government constituted a committee headed by former DGP Prakash Singh to inquire into the acts of omission and commission on part of officers of police and civil administration. IAS officer Vijai Vardhan and incumbent Haryana DGP K P Singh were also members of the committee.
The committee submitted the report in May this year. Although Volume One of the report was made public by the government, Volume Two was termed “confidential”. The report states that between February 7 to 22, 11 alerts each were issued to Jind and Bhiwani, 10 to Rohtak, nine to Hisar, eight to Sonepat, six to Jhajjar and three to Kaithal. The Committee has studied the contents of these alerts. As per the report, the CID gave sufficient inputs about the various developments and the build up of the Jat agitation. These alerts were issued to the DGP, ADGP Law and Order, Commissioners of Police, Inspector Generals of Police, Deputy Commissioners and District Superintendents of Police.
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Further, it is pointed out that personal details of organisers/instigators behind the numerous dharnas and blockades were also furnished to the police headquarters on February 19. “The threat of violence was being held out by different leaders. The tragedy was that people in power were always hoping for a last minute miracle, a last minute rapprochement, a last-minute political solution. That did not happen – and the volcano erupted,” reads the report.
In the report it is stated that social media was also used to disseminate information. Between February 7 to 22, 7 WhatsApp messages were sent and 207 phone calls were exchanged with local authorities in district Hisar, 34 WhatsApp messages and 240 phone calls in district Jind, 120 phone calls in Bhiwani, two WhatsApp messages and 43 phone calls in Rohtak, 5 WhatsApp messages and 101 phone calls in district Jhajjar, 15 WhatsApp messages and 1 phone calls in district Kaithal, while eight SMS messages and 43 phone calls were exchanged with local authorities in district Sonipat. There was exchange of information with authorities in Karnal and Panipat districts as well as the Government Railway Police.
As per the report, some inputs from the Central Intelligence agencies regarding the agitation received from the Ministry of Home Affairs received on 15 July, 2015, 11 September, 2015 and 19 February, 2016, were “promptly passed on by the Special Branch to the senior officers concerned”. The committee has observed that a major part of what was being reported by the state intelligence was there in public domain also. It is stated that the committee saw footage of some videos where there is open exhortation to violence. Leaders can be seen making venomous statements.
“A vigilant administration would have taken preventive steps. The leaders spreading poison should have been detained. The first signs of trouble should have been firmly nipped in the bud. The district officials were, however, generally hesitant, unsure and diffident. Some showed pathetic signs of nervousness. The agitators could see that strong action would not be taken against them and so they went berserk. It is not that there was no or inadequate intelligence. It is just that the administration was complacent and unprepared,” reads the report.
Prakash Singh, in his report has further said there was no question of failure of intelligence. It was actually failure to recognise a challenge and administrative inability to deal with it. Prakash Singh, while praising the role of the then Additional DG CID has said that “he is an officer of exceptional calibre. If he made any mistake, it was perhaps in going beyond his charter and, in the process, treading on others’ toes”.
The report has pointed out that there is no evidence of any conspiracy. It is stated that Prakash Singh talked to a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau and “the IB officer was categoric that there was no conspiracy as such”. In his report, the former DGP has stated that the Home Department and DGP’s office did not rise to the occasion. “There were no clear cut instructions or leadership of the kind one would expect in such a situation. At the Range level, the Inspector General in the most sensitive district cut a sorry figure. The Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police gave a satisfactory account at places, but were generally either unimpressive or showed lack of commitment in dealing with the agitators,” says the report.