THE KILLING of a man and the widespread looting of shops and businesses have left this town bitterly opposed to the Jat community, and angry that the police did not come to their help.
One person was killed in the violence here. Thirty-year-old Mauji Ram was an outsider who had come from his native Yamunanagar district. Police records say he was attacked with a sharp weapon.
“He is my cousin’s brother-in-law, he had come to attend a wedding in my family on February 20,” said Jasmer Singh, a Rajput. “Jats entered our colony and started throwing stones at the houses when they saw him.”
It was about 12.30 pm. Mauji Ram had asked the way to Jasmer’s house, identifying it as a Rajput’s house. He was standing close outside the house when he was attacked by a mob. Those inside did not stir out to rescue him for fear of being attacked themselves.
“We were not able to get to him till 4 pm when the Army came,” said Jasmer Singh. Mauji Ram’s body was lifeless.
In the market, where shops opened Wednesday for the first time after they shut down on the evening of February 19, shopkeepers say protesters singled out non-Jat shops to loot and set on fire.
“You will not even find a single shop owned by Jats here which has been touched. Whereas Jats also own over 40 shops in Kalayat,” says Raju Gautam, owner of Gautam Auto Parts, whose shop was vandalised and completely destroyed.
Krishan, the Jogi owner of the adjacent Taj Sweets which was also vandalised, shows a video that he captured on his phone from the top of the building to make the same point.
“Re theka pad lo na yaar (Friend vandalise the liquor vend),” shouts one protester. Another responds: “Ye jatan ka he. Ghar kyan ka ha (This vend is owned by a known Jat).
The protesters then move forward without causing any damage to the vend. The video, which is in the possession of The Indian Express, shows the protesters carrying sticks in their hands, vandalising shops and coming out carrying cold drinks, chips and other eatables in their hands.
Shop owners said they witnessed mobs first looting, then setting on fire at least 20 shops owned by non-Jats — Brahmins, Rajputs, Sainis, Bairagis and Kumhars. It all happened in broad daylight, in the presence of local police.
Lovely Juice Corner owned by a Bairagi, Gautam Auto Parts owned by a Brahmin and Sehrawat Fashion Plaza owned by a Jat are in same line on the main road in Kalayat town. But, said the shopkeepers, they saw the protesters leaving Sehrawat Fashion Plaza untouched, moving on to loot and torch the two other shops.
At Kalayat town and the village, the Jat community has a minimal presence. The people here belong mostly to non-Jat castes such as Brahmins, Rajputs, Sainis, Jogis, Bairagis, Kumhars and others.
Ravinder Kumar alias Bunty, a Brahmin who owns Nirmal Sweets which was completely destroyed, alleges, “SHO Ved Prakash, a Jat himself, was on the spot tasting the fare at my shop when a Jat mob vandalised it. After they looted all the sweets, they set it on fire.”
He said that he along with other shopkeepers was asked by the police on February 19 evening to close down their shops till further order. “When police had all the information, why did it fail to secure our shops? When we tried to save our properties we were also attacked and even the police told us to flee from the market,” says Bunty.
Police records show that a total of 25 FIRs have been registered across Kaithal district till Wednesday, and only two Jats and a Lohar, all residents of Payauda village, have been arrested till date. There are a total of 17 injured persons out of which 15 are from Kalayat. Internet services have been closed in Kaithal till February 25, says a police spokesperson.
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