Chandigarh(PTI): Mobile internet services have been blocked by Rohtak administration in Rohtak and Jhajjar after violence broke out during Jat agitation for quota in Rohtak on Thursday leaving at least 15 persons injured. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will convene an all-party meet on Friday to find a way out of the impasse.
On Thursday, police and the paramilitary troops staged a flag-march to get the town roads cleared from protesters who blocked these in support of their reservation demand.
Traders and advocates clashed outside the court premises at Rohtak during the protest,in which several vehicles were also damaged. Advocates of the district court were protesting against non-inclusion of Jat community in the OBC category outside the court premises from where traders of the city were passing in a procession to submit a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, police said.
Police and paramilitary forces resorted to lathi-charge and teargas shells to control the situation on Thursday, during which unidentified persons torched some motorcycles and pelted stones. Prohibitory orders were clamped in Rohtak, banning assembly of five or more persons.
In Chandigarh, an all-party meeting has been convened on Friday and a decision in this regard was taken by the Chief Minister at an emergent meeting of the Cabinet. Khattar reviewed the situation arising out of the ongoing agitation.
The state cabinet appealed to the agitating Jats to call off their agitation in the larger interest of the state.
The administration and the police were fully alert to meet any eventuality and the government has kept all its options open to deal with the situation, Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar told reporters after the Cabinet meet.
Leader of the Opposition Abhay Chautala demanded a special session of the Haryana Assembly to discuss the issues related to Jat reservation.
Normal life was badly hit in the state as the Jat agitation for quotas on Thursday spread to more parts of Haryana after talks between community leaders and the government failed to break the deadlock.
The agitation spread to Kaithal, Karnal, Jind and other districts, disrupting road and rail traffic as protestors blocked various highways and railway lines.
While college and university students had on Wednesday joined the protest at Rohtak, on Thursday students from various places, including Hisar, Kurukshetra and Kaithal also joined them.
Jats are demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions under OBC category.
While rail and road traffic has been worst hit in the Rohtak-Jhajjar region, the epicentre of the protests, Bhiwani, Sonipat, Hisar have also been adversely hit by the agitation.
The protesters, who last evening rejected Khattar’s offer to enhance quota for economically backward classes to include Jats, blocked roads in many places in Panipat which also affected movement of vehicles towards Uttar Pradesh.
Due to the blockades set up by the agitators, Haryana Roadways suspended its bus services on many affected routes. The Rohtak administration imposed prohibitory orders in the entire district banning assembly of five or more persons.
Rohtak is the native place of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the parliamentary constituency represented by his son,Deepinder.
“Section 144 has been imposed with immediate effect from Thursday in Rohtak,” Additional Deputy Commissioner Amit Khatri said.
Noting that the protesters have been asked to clear the blockades and disperse, he said, “We have warned them first and are hoping they will comply.”
As the protests continued, supply of milk, vegetables, fruits and other items on the national highway connecting Rohtak with other parts of the state and NCR was also affected.
A day after holding talks with the chief minister, All India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti’s national president, Yashapal Malik told PTI,”We reject the offer, it is not technically viable. It is illegal and cannot be implemented.” “We (Jats) cannot be fooled once again, we have been fighting for our right for several years now. The agitation has further spread to Kaithal, Faridabad, Karnal, Palwal on Thursday and by Friday, it will cover entire Haryana,” Malik said.
Jat and Khap leaders had held a four-hour long meeting with Khattar and some of his ministers here on Wednesday during which the chief minister had announced enhancement of the reservation quota under EBC and the annual income ceiling from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
The Chief Minister had announced an enhancement of the quota of reservation for Economically Backward Classes in the state from 10 to 20 per cent but the community remained adamant about their demand for reservation under OBC category.
A committee constituted under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to study all the aspects of reservations for Special Backward Classes, will submit its report before the forthcoming budget session of state Assembly next month, Khattar had said. The committee will consider all suggestions, including bringing an appropriate bill, in this regard, he had said.
Meanwhile, blockade also continued on roads from Rohtak to Delhi, and roads to Sonipat, Jhajjar remained blocked while those leading to Hisar, Jind and Bhiwani were also affected.
Railway traffic on the Rohtak-Delhi section was affected due to the agitation, officials said, adding many trains had been cancelled or diverted through alternative routes.
Jat protesters have blocked Badahurgarh-Delhi road at Bahadurgarh affecting vehicular movement to Delhi from Haryana. They have also blocked Saharanpur-Kurukshetra road at Pipli, Ladwa in Kurukshetra district and Radaur of Yamunanagar district while several roads in Hisar and Hansi also remained blocked.
A ‘kutcha’ road, which was being used by people for going to Bhiwani as the protesters had blocked main road, was dug up by protesters at Charkhi-Dadri on Thursday.
Managements of private schools, which fall in the affected areas, have also declared holidays due to the stir while Maharishi Dayanand University announced postponement of some of its undergraduate and postgraduate examinations that were scheduled to be held between February 17-22.
A group of Kurukshetra University students, belonging to the Jat community, held a demonstration in the KU on Thursday over the reservation issue. They held demonstration in front of Vice-Chancellor’s office and raised slogans against the BJP-led state government.
Later, the students led a procession to Jat Dharamsala at Kurukshetra, where other members from the community joined them. They sat on ‘dharna’ on Kurukshetra-Pehowa road and blocked vehicular traffic.
Police diverted the traffic from Panorama chowk to Pehowa road via out-ring road from Jhansa road. The protesters also blocked all main roads in Jind district including those leading to Patiala, Panipat, Kaithal, Rohtak, Gohana, Hansi and Bhiwani.
Meanwhile, INLD senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala, who is also Leader of Opposition in Haryana assembly, on Thursday demanded that a session of state assembly be convened immediately on the Jat stir issue.
Chautala said a two-line resolution should be passed in the assembly and later forwarded to the Centre favouring reservation for Jats and other communities, including Jat-Sikhs, Tyagi, Ror and Bishnois. The reservation benefit which the Jats are getting in four states should be implemented in entire country, he said in a statement. Chautala also appealed to various communities to maintain peace and brotherhood and not lend an ear to any rumour which may disturb peace.