During violence of a level rarely seen in the country, 30 men were killed in barely three days in last month’s Jat agitation in Haryana.
Nearly a month has passed since, and on Monday, Jat organisations were back on the streets threatening another agitation from March 17 if their demands for reservation under the OBC quota were not met.
The Indian Express tracked families of 26 of the 30 killed. Most of them are poor and most have small landholdings. A majority of the Jats have another thing in common: they say they are ready to make more “sacrifices” for quota.
Thirteen of those killed were in Jhajjar, the epicentre of the agitation.
Located around 60 km from Delhi, the Jhajjar district has four Assembly constituencies, two represented by Congress MLAs, and one by the BJP. The Lok Sabha constituency is Rohtak, represented by Congress leader Depender Singh Hooda, the son of Jat strongman Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
A majority of the 102 villages in Jhajjar are dominated by Jats, while Ahirs also form a sizeable population. The Ahirs were not targeted in the riots, with the Jats focusing on OBC and Dalit colonies such as Chavni Mohalla and Balmiki Mohalla.
Eight of the 13 killed were Jats, all of them allegedly shot by security forces. Jats are accused of killing the remaining five — two Sainis, and a Brahmin, Khati and Kumhar. Most of those killed were sole bread-winners of their families, and leave behind young wives and children.
A senior Haryana police officer, not willing to be named, said, “We are investigating each death. The government shall provide every possible assistance to victims found innocent.”
Jaideep, who had studied up to Class XII, farmed the family’s two-acre land along with brother Yogesh. They made Rs 5,000-8,000 a month, on which the Jat family, including their parents and Yogesh’s wife and two children, survived.
On February 20, Jaideep was hit along with five-six of his friends when the security forces opened fire at Bhagat Singh Chowk on the Jhajjar-Rohtak road. He was the only one who died. His family was attacked by people from other castes when they were getting the body back the next day.
Police have named Jaideep as among the rioters who damaged public property and hindered government officials.
Says wife Sonia, “I do not want compensation. I want reservation, so that my children can get a better living.” Satbir warns, “If the government fails to provide reservation, we have more sons to sacrifice.”
The Jat family owns 1.5-acre land, and Praveen worked as a driver to make ends meet, same as elder brother Naveen. The family monthly income was around Rs 7,000 a month. While Naveen is married, the wedding of Praveen, who had studied up to Class X, was scheduled a couple of months from now.
Praveen died reportedly in the firing by armed forces on February 20. Says father Subhash, “I am a heart patient. Praveen had gone to fetch my medicine. He got caught in the protests, and was hit twice. We got his body after three days.”
Questioning police version that he was among the rioters, Subhash says, “If he had to protest, there was a blockade outside our village too.”
Chavni Mohalla village
Krishan, who was illiterate and didn’t own any land, worked as a daily wager and earned Rs 3,000-5,000 a month. He is survived by wife Angoori Devi, two sons and two daughters.
On February 21, a mob allegedly comprising Jats attacked Chavni Mohalla. Also targeted was a group of Sainis sitting at the chowk, including Krishan. He was beaten and shot in the chest. His son Harish, who tried to save him, sustained pellet injuries.
While police records show Krishan was murdered, no arrests have been made so far.
Chavni Mohalla village
The Class VIII pass was employed with the PWD and earned Rs 19,000 a month. With him gone and his family owning no land, his wife and three children have no other source of income.
Shyama was also killed in the February 21 Jat attack targeting Sainis in Chavni Mohalla village. Shyama was dragged out of his house and lynched in front of his wife and children, who reportedly climbed up the walls of their house to escape. Their two-room house was badly damaged.
Police records list Shyama’s death as murder, but there have been no arrests so far.
Chavni Mohalla village
Birender, who had studied up to Class X, had a roadside electrician shop on Rewari bypass. The family of Kumhars, including Birender’s parents and his married brother, had a monthly income of Rs 9,000-10,000 and lives in a two-room dilapidated house. They don’t own any land.
On February 19 night, Birender was going towards Talao village when he ran into a blockade put up by Jats. Says father Om Prakash, who makes and sells pots for a living, “Birender requested them to allow him access. They started assaulting him. He was attacked on the head with an axe. We recovered his body the next day.”
Police have listed Birender’s death as a road accident.
Says Om Prakash, “Just because we are poor, police claim he died in a road accident. I want the killers of my son found. If police fail, I shall find and kill them myself. I will also sell myself and compensate their families.”
Mata Gata village
Dinesh’s landless father Jawahar Singh runs a roadside sweet shop, while Dinesh used to work as a helper in a cloth merchant’s shop. The family together had a monthly income of Rs 5,000-8,000. A Class V dropout, Dinesh is survived by a wife and an infant daughter.
On February 20, Dinesh was allegedly shot by armed forces. Jawahar says, “He had gone to fetch my medicines. He had no role in the agitation. We got his body the next day.”
Police have named Dinesh, a Brahmin, among the rioters who looted and damaged properties.
M P Majra village
While the Jat family owns 2.5 acres of land, Krishan’s father Nathu Ram says it didn’t yield much. Krishan, who studied up to Class X, worked as a driver and sold milk to contribute to the family income of Rs 8,000-10,000 a month.
Krishan is survived by Nathu Ram, his wife and a son, who is pursuing the JBT (Junior Basic Training) teacher course.
Krishan was also killed during the firing by armed forces at Bhagat Singh Chowk on February 20.
Police have named Krishan as among the protesters who blocked the highway and prevented government servants from performing their duty.
Akheri Madanpur village
While Sandeep earned Rs 2,000-3,000 a month from his 5-acre land, he worked in a factory for Rs 5,000 salary to support his wife and two children.
On February 20, the Jat youth was part of the crowd at Bhagat Singh Chowk on which security forces opened fire. Father Sunderpal says, “Sandeep had gone to drop his cousin to Mundka. On the way back, he got trapped in the riot.”
Police records list Sandeep as being among the rioters.
Akheri Madanpur village
Arjun, his two brothers and with their father tilled their 5-acre land and earned Rs 10,000-15,000 a month. A Class XII pass, Arjun was also admitted in an ITI course, while his brother Dharmender is in the Army, and another, Jagbir, a graduate.
On February 20, Arjun was shot in the armed forces firing at Bhagat Singh Chowk. Says Jagbir, “We don’t know how he reached there. At least three more boys of our village were shot at, but survived.”
Police records show Arjun as part of a group of rioters.
The only breadwinner of his family, Jaivir drove a tractor transporting bricks from kilns to people’s houses. Apart from his wife and son, the family’s monthly earnings of Rs 7,500 also went towards Jaivir’s brother Sandeep’s studies.
The Jat family owns land that is not bigger than 1 acres in size.
On February 21, Jaivir was shot allegedly by armed forces near Delhi Gate in the town. His family could get his body only three days later.
Police records show Jaivir as part of the rioters.
Says uncle Samay Singh, “If we block the roads, will you come and shoot us? We are fighting for our legitimate rights.”
Ram Chander, 49
The ex-serviceman who had studied up to Class XII is survived by his wife, a 13-year-old son and a married daughter. The Jat family lives on his pension, though they also own 2 acres of land.
On February 21, Ram Chander was going to Gaddi village to meet one of his relatives. “He stopped by a protest site and was shot twice. We don’t know who shot him,” says brother Amarjit.
Police records say Ram Chander was part of the protesters and died in security forces firing.
Anil, who dropped out of school after Class V, worked as a helper on the Rohtak-Jhajjar toll plaza for Rs 5,000 a month. He was not married.
The landless family, including his parents and two brothers (also unmarried), lives in a two-room ramshackle house. Their monthly income together doesn’t cross Rs 15,000.
On February 21, Anil was shot in the head on the Jhajjar-Kosli road. His father says that as Khatis, they were already covered under the OBC category, and Anil had no reason to be part of any protest.
Police have listed him as a rioter.
The 13th victim in Jhajjar, Pradeep, also a Jat, couldn’t be traced.