There were no untoward incidents or violence reported. Every time the situation threatened to spiral out of control, a bunch of Jat personnel from the police force stepped in to diffuse the tension.
By the time the protest came to an end around 5pm, the agitators were cheering some of the Jat policemen and urging them to join them on stage. While most policemen politely refused, an inspector was compelled to address the huge gathering. The officer, in turn, kept his address short and sweet, thanking the agitators for keeping the protest peaceful.
Sources said Thursday’s protest saw several thousand agitators participating in it, but the situation was always under control, at least early on.
The Jat leaders had appealed to the gatherers to maintain discipline and not misbehave with the police and the journalists present.
But as the crowd swelled, a leader addressing them accused the police of stopping community members from entering the Delhi at the city’s borders. It led to an aggressive response from the protesters, immediately sending the police on alert.
“We suggested that one of our colleagues from the Jat community talk to the leaders and assure them that no one was stopped. When they got to know he belonged to their community, they immediately believed him,” a senior police officer told HT.
So, the next time another Jat leader threatened peace by making inflammatory statements against the police, another Jat policeman was sent to pacify them. When some of the protesters threatened to break the barricades while attempting to march to Parliament, again it was some Jat policemen who came forward to calm them down.
Aware of how quickly things could go out of hand, the Delhi Police had kept around 3,500 additional personnel on standby. Early in the day, three special commissioners of Delhi Police had visited the protest site and spoken to the leaders and overseen the arrangements.
While the agitation did not affect traffic movement in other parts of the city, Sansad Marg was closed for vehicles from 10am till late in the evening. Roads around Jantar Mantar witnessed slow vehicular movement throughout the day, especially during the evening when the agitators dispersed.
The protesters had begun trickling in to Jantar Mantar as early as 8am. While most took Metro trains, buses and MUVs to reach the site, some arrived in expensive cars like Audis and Fortuners.
Comprising mostly of elderly men, the protesters had brought along their hookahs, tobacco and some cow dung cakes for keeping the hookah burning.
The organizers had arranged for food, water and tea for agitators, but the public facilities at Jantar Mantar appeared insufficient to cater to the high turnout.
Thursday’s protest passing off peacefully might have come as a major relief to the Delhi Police, but they may already be worried about the next agitation after Holi in which Jat leaders have threatened to enter Delhi with their tractors, trolleys and cattle if their demands are not met.