September 21, 2003
If you thought Haryana would be the right place to hold a world Jat conference, you were far off the mark. Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma thinks Belgrade is the suitable venue. The reason: ‘Most inhabitants of the Serbian capital are Jats.’
The minister, in fact, would have gone and attended the World Jat Congress in Belgrade, then scheduled to be held in late July, had not Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee put his foot down. The meet is the brainchild of the World Jat Aryan Foundation, which believes Serbs are Jats whose ancestors migrated from India. Verma is a patron of the Foundation.
The Prime Minister politely told Verma not to attend the conference since Delhi elections were around the corner. Also, on August 11, Vajpayee shot off a letter to all his Cabinet colleagues asking them to consult the Ministry of External Affairs on ‘‘issues concerning India’s projection or representation abroad, and initiatives involving foreign governments’’ before taking the plunge.
The outburst was prompted by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha whose ministry was kept in the dark by the Foundation, which directly approached the Serbia-Montenegro Embassy with a request to host the delegates.
The Foundation, founded in 2001 with Principal Hoshiar Singh as its working president, held an international conference of Jats last November in New Delhi. Verma presided over that conference too.
When contacted by The Sunday Express in Bhopal, Verma said: ‘‘I had committed to attend the Jat Conference. However, circumstances did not permit me to go.’’ He didn’t explain.
The Jat association contacted Serbian Minister Counsellor and Charge de Affairs Zarko Milosevic saying that it wanted to hold the conference at Belgrade as it stood at the confluence of Asia and Europe and was brimming with Jats unaware of their roots.
Milosevic reportedly sent the proposal straight to his government. Belgrade asked its CdA to report the matter to Indian Foreign Ministry. So when Verma approached the Prime Minister’s Office with similar arguments to back his trip, it was immediately spiked. Despite repeated attempts, Milosevic was not available for comment.
Dr K.S. Singh, former DG of the Anthropological Survey of India, said there was no connection between the Jats and the Serbs.
‘‘Modern anthropology is based on blood samples and gene pool and there is nothing to establish this connection. It is purely a conjecture as Jats belong to Indo-Pak stock and can be traced to 4th century BC,’’ said Singh, author of the 43-volume People of India.
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