The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana has withdrawn 70 FIRs filed against 882 people during the Jat quota agitation violence in February 2016. The withdrawal of the cases — it was done on February 6 — is being seen as a move to placate Jat agitators who have threatened to disrupt BJP president Amit Shah’s scheduled rally in Jind on February 15.
Officials maintained that these 70 FIRs were about “minor offences” such as felling of trees, blocking highways and rail traffic. The Haryana government, officials said, has so far withdrawn 208 such FIRs against 1,980 people accused of various offences.
Krishan Kumar Bedi, Haryana Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, defended the withdrawal of cases: “It is not as if the BJP government alone has withdrawn criminal cases registered for minor offences. In fact, such cases were also withdrawn by the previous state governments of (Bhupinder Singh) Hooda and (Om Prakash) Chautala.”
“We have already made our stand clear that the government shall not withdraw a single case registered for a heinous crime. There are about 90 such FIRs, some pending investigation and others at various stages of trial,” he said.
Bedi heads a committee constituted by the government last year to examine the aspect of compensation for those who lost their lives or sustained serious injuries during the February 2016 violence — at least 30 died in the protests that paralysed Haryana for ten days and spread to neighbouring states.
“We have already given employment to 30 people from the families of victims as per their qualifications. Compensation has also been given to families of all those who lost their lives and those who sustained injuries”, Bedi said.
Haryana Home Secretary S S Prasad said: “Till date, we have withdrawn 208 such cases where the charges were not that grave. These cases were only for minor offences. We are in the process of examining all such cases and shall be taking appropriate action”.
But the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, the organisation that has been spearheading the Jat agitation in Haryana, is not impressed. Its president Yashpal Malik has threatened to disrupt Shah’s rally in Jind.
Dismissing the Haryana government’s move to withdraw criminal cases, Malik said: “Successive governments have been fooling us with such petty tactics. Our agitation stands as per schedule. We shall not rest till our goal of reservation in government jobs and educational institutions is achieved. All the cases, heinous or non-heinous in nature, should be withdrawn by the government. Unless that is done, the ongoing exercise of withdrawing criminal cases for minor offences does not mean anything to us.”