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Monday, June 25, 2018

Failed state

The government has been absent in since the Jat protest began.

By: Express News Service | Updated: February 25, 2016 12:02:20 am
Rohtak, India, February 20: Jaat’s blocked Jhajjar-Rohtak road at Saapla, in Rohtak, India, on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Photo by Manoj Kumar Rohtak, India, February 20: Jaat’s blocked Jhajjar-Rohtak road at Saapla, in Rohtak, India, on Saturday, February 20, 2016. (Photo by Manoj Kumar)

The collapse of the administrative and law and order machinery in Haryana, even as the state burnt for five days, has few parallels in recent times. It has not only led to 19 official casualties, but also largescale damage to public property — highways, railway tracks and the vital Munak canal link that supplies water to Delhi — and private establishments from shops, malls and restaurants to homes, as Jat protesters and other caste groups went on a rampage against one another and the government. The state has begun to assess the losses that would certainly be in the region of thousands of crores. There was, shockingly, no attempt by the Haryana government to use instruments available to it to bring the arson and violence to a swift end. The police were simply missing in action; the fact of Haryana’s constabulary being drawn mainly from the Jat community could have played some role there. But more than that, senior police officials themselves were directionless, as they had no orders from the government to act against law-breakers, and allowed the violence to spread. Within 24 hours, the state government had called in the army, though this should have been the last resort. Some of the failure can be attributed to the inexperience of CM Manohar Lal Khattar and others in his government. But Haryana is no ordinary state, bordering, after all, the national capital. Some of the worst violence was actually witnessed in the NCR districts of Rohtak, Sonepat, Jhajjar, Panipat and Jind. Irrespective of the political skulduggery that fanned the flames, the Union home ministry and BJP seniors should have guided the rookies running Haryana on initiating talks with the Jat leaders much before the agitation blew up into anarchy. But clearly, the Centre had other urgent priorities at hand, such as dealing with the sloganeering at JNU and hunting down “anti-national” students, to bother about the violence that has laid an entire state to waste in its backyard.

Some of the failure can be attributed to the inexperience of CM Manohar Lal Khattar and others in his government. But Haryana is no ordinary state, bordering, after all, the national capital. Some of the worst violence was actually witnessed in the NCR districts of Rohtak, Sonepat, Jhajjar, Panipat and Jind. Irrespective of the political skulduggery that fanned the flames, the Union home ministry and BJP seniors should have guided the rookies running Haryana on initiating talks with the Jat leaders much before the agitation blew up into anarchy. But clearly, the Centre had other urgent priorities at hand, such as dealing with the sloganeering at JNU and hunting down “anti-national” students, to bother about the violence that has laid an entire state to waste in its backyard.Had all this happened in a

Had all this happened in a non-BJP-ruled state, the Centre’s reaction would have clearly been different. It will be months, if not years, before business-as-usual can be resorted to what has been seen as one of India’s most pro-industry states and its showpiece districts. In the last few months, Khattar has toured several countries, inviting investment into Haryana. The government says it will go ahead with a global investor summit on March 7. But the damage to investor sentiment, on account of a government seen as unable to provide even a modicum of security to property from rampaging mobs, is something not to be underestimated. It remains to be seen if heads will roll, but accountability has to be fixed for the worst statewide law and order failure India has seen in recent years.

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