IN THE recent violence during the Jat quota agitation in Haryana, it was not just the living who were targeted — the dead too were not spared.
Lt Ravinder Chhikara’s marble bust enjoyed pride of place in Jhajjar town, at a central square known as Chhikara Chowk. The young Grenadiers’ officer died after killing some militants in Jammu and Kashmir in 2000. He was awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously.
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The bust was decapitated, allegedly by non-Jat communities, in the recent clashes. It is now wrapped in a sack.
“Shaheed to sabke hote hain, inhone usko bhi nahi chhora (Martyrs belong to everyone, they didn’t even spare him),” said Jitender Dahiya, a 27-year-old resident, nursing a fractured arm and a leg sustained in an attack on the Jat community’s Sir Chhotu Ram Dharamshala.
Dozens of people were reportedly injured in the attack during which the building was burnt down. A statue of Sir Chhotu Ram, one of the tallest Jat leaders of pre-Partition era who enjoys iconic status in the state, was also damaged. The statue is now wrapped in cloth.
“Even those who migrated from Haryana to Pakistan after Partition revere Sir Chhotu Ram, but the attackers did not spare his statue,” said Ved Prakash, president of the dharamshala committee.
According to reports, the statues were targeted after a similar attack on a statue of Rao Tula Ram, the foremost leader of the Ahir community of Haryana and one of the key protagonists of the 1857 war of independence. His statue, astride a horse, is placed at a prominent crossing in Jhajjar.
On February 19, some miscreants reportedly vandalised the statue and chopped off the tail of Rao Tula Ram’s horse.
But Jats denied any involvement. “It was done to defame Jats, and to rally the Ahirs together,” said Subedar Joginder Singh, a retired soldier.
Maman Singh, who belongs to the Saini community, said the divide between Jats and non-Jats was reflected in the vandalism of each other’s icons. “Sab kuch dobara ban sakta hai, par dil ke ghaav nahi bhar sakte (Everything can be rebuilt, but the wounds of the heart will not heal),” he said.