The Jat stir for quota in government jobs and education reached the Capital on Thursday, as protesters threatened to cut off food supply to Delhi and block roads if their demands were not met by March 20.
The day passed off peacefully though several thousand Jats from various states had gathered for a rally at Jantar Mantar, the city’s protest zone.
But, the leaders of the land-holding community warned that five million of them would descend on the Capital, with their tractors and cattle, if the government failed to act by March 20.
“Be prepared for a blockade… Apart from water supply, supply of essential goods will also be curtailed,” All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti’s (AIJASS) Yashpal Malik, who is leading the renewed stir, told the protesters.
Delhi depends on neigbouring states for milk, fruits, vegetables and other essentials.
Taps ran dry in several parts of Delhi in February last, as Jat protesters in neigbouring Haryana damaged the Munak canal that carries water to the Capital.
Thirty people were killed in Haryana as the protest turned violent, with heavy damage to public and private property.
The AIJASS resumed agitation across Haryana on January 29.
On Thursday, the community members from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Delhi joined their Haryana counterparts in demanding “aam maafi (general amnesty)”.
Listing their seven demands, AIJASS chief Malik told HT the community should be given reservation by the Centre, Haryana and other states.
They also want jobs for the next of the kin of those killed in the 2016 stir, withdrawal of cases registered against the Jats and action against officers who used force against them.
The injured should be given compensation, Malik, who is from Haryana, said.
More than 2,100 cases were lodged for the violence that swept Haryana. Sixty protesters are still in jail.
The Jat leader also called for actions against BJP leader Raj Kumar Saini, who has spoken against the demand for reservation.
A Delhi MLA joined the sit-in. “The Jats, who are primarily an agrarian community, have been facing discrimination for a long time. They are behind in economic matters, so the entire issue needs better handling by the government,” Bijwasan MLA colonel Devinder Sehrawat (retired) told HT.
The protesters tried to march towards Parliament but were stopped near the Parliament Street police station after which they dispersed.