Train services in northern India were disrupted for yet another day as Jat leaders in Haryana on Thursday remained firm on their decision to continue their stir demanding quota for the community in government jobs under OBC category and threatened to give a statewide bandh call next week if their demands were not met by March 20.
"We are firm on our demand and are waiting for the government's response. If our demand is not met by March 20, we will further intensify our stir and call for Haryana bandh the next day," Hawa Singh Sangwan, Haryana State President of All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, the body spearheading the agitation, said.
The ongoing stir by Jats has badly affected rail traffic in northern India.
The Jats have blocked 12 rail lines, affecting train services on Jind-Hisar, Hisar-Jakhhal, Jaipur-Hisar, Hisar-Bathinda, Delhi-Rohtak, while trains to Ludhiana and Amritsar passing through Jind have also been affected besides the trains on Rohtak-Panipat section.
With the disruption in the supply of coal, the Rajiv Gandhi Thermal Power Plant, Khedar, Hisar has been closed.
Asked that the Centre was expecting suspension of the agitation after talks of their representatives with Home Minister P Chidambaram and Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik in New Delhi yesterday, Sangwan said, "We have given them the time and now it is for them to decide".
He said they had told the Government that the agitating Jats in Haryana, who have been squatting on several rail lines for the past nearly two weeks, would not block any new rail route till March 20.
On Wednesday, the Union ministers had conveyed to the Jat representatives that they need three to four days as the demand for inclusion of Jats in the Central government list of OBCs needed to be discussed with the Ministry of Law and other relevant wings of the government, Jat leader Yashpal Malik had said.
On concluding day of its budget session on March 15, the Haryana Assembly had witnessed uproarious scenes for over 80 minutes over the Jat quota stir with both ruling and opposition members indulging in heated exchanges.
Main opposition INLD's suggestion that the treasury benches should bring a resolution urging the Centre to grant quota to Haryana Jats in government jobs was not accepted.
Meanwhile, Yashpal Malik said that on March 21 they will block new rail routes which have so far not been blocked by them during the agitation.
"We are not suspending our agitation, it will continue till our demand is met," Malik, who is the main leader spearheading the stir, said.
When asked that the government is unlikely to invite the agitating Jats for another round of discussions unless they call off the stir, Malik said that was not their (Jats) problem.