Haryana braces for stir; Jat leaders say it will be peaceful

ROHTAK,DAMINI NATH:Agitation for reservation to start today; mobile internet services blocked in Rohtak; Jat outfit says they will restrict protest to one location per district

Round two of the reservation stir by Jats in Haryana, which will start on Sunday, could turn out to be messy, despite community leaders assuring the authorities that the demonstrations would be peaceful.

Police flag march in the Rothak city on the eve of Jat reservation protest in Haryana on Saturday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

The first round of protests hit Haryana in February.

The violent stir ended up killing 30 people and leading to a huge loss of property before the Haryana government gave in to the demand by including Jats in the quota for Other Backward Castes.

However, the implementation of the reservation was stayed by the High Court.

Restricted protest

While most Jat organisations said they will wait for the matter to be decided in court, some groups called for protests starting Sunday.

The Akhil Bharatiya Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) will be leading these stirs and has agreed to restrict their protest to one location per district.

Rohtak SP Shashank Anand said that mobile internet services have been blocked.

On Saturday evening, authorities issued notices to four people, who were responsible for erecting a tent about 20km outside Rohtak city, at Jassia village, for Sunday’s protest.

“We have sent notices to four people for violating Section-144 of the Criminal Procedure Code by setting up a tent without permission. The site is just off the Rohtak-Panipat highway; we can’t allow that,” said Rohtak Deputy Commissioner Atul Kumar.

He added that no gatherings of five or more people were allowed within a 500-metre radius of National and State highways or railway stations and tracks. He said the organisers of the protest had been given permission to hold the demonstration at a ground in Sector-6 of Rohtak.

The organisers, however, refused to budge.

Site of agitation

Ashok Balhara, the Rohtak in-charge of ABJASS and one of those sent notices by the DC, said he had not received any communication from the authorities as of 8.30 p.m. on Saturday.

“We will not be shifting our protest site. It is a peaceful protest; we will ensure there is no untoward incident,” said Mr. Balhara.

Meanwhile, the authorities are not taking any chances. A check-post was set up by paramilitary forces between Rohtak city and Jassia.

Sanjay Kumar, Inspector-General of the Rohtak range of Haryana Police, said that he expected a peaceful demonstration, and had been assured by Jat leaders of this.

“But, we are ready for all eventualities. About 3,000 police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in Rohtak district,” said Mr. Kumar.

He added that the police would be monitoring social media as well, in case troublemakers try to spread rumours.

Last time, the protesters became violent after a rumour was spread online that a statue of a Jat icon, Sir Chhotu Ram, was damaged. The violence then spread throughout the State, killing 30 people.

Rohtak city, which saw large-scale arson and looting during the protests in February, witnessed a flag march by the police on Saturday afternoon.

Clad in riot-gear, the police marched through the streets that had burned buildings – a grim reminder of how violent February’s stir was.

Ramesh Kumar Girdhar, whose sweet shop was among those torched, has just managed to re-open his business, though the government has compensated him for half the damage.

“We are apprehensive about the stir starting again, but we are not scared enough to shut shop. We have to wait it out,” he said.

Posted by on June 5, 2016. Filed under Regional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.