Traders in the region worry of a deeper caste-divide after Jat leader Yashpal Malik on Sunday asked the Jat community to stop purchasing goods from shops that don’t carry a banner in support of their agitation and seven demands in written from March 1.
Malik was addressing a large gathering of protesters at Jassia village where he made the statement.
In a state that was already reeling under social divide after it was rocked by unprecedented violence last year, the statement invited stern criticism from even the members of Jat community. “By saying we will not purchase goods from shops not supporting demands, we are making people stand against us. The government was already trying its best to create caste-divide but now even Jat leaders have followed in the same path,” said Mahender Nandal, former head of prominent Nandal Khap.
The February quota stir last year saw mobs running amok, choosing their targets specifically in looting and burning private properties. Shops of non-Jats were targeted in Rohtak and adjoining districts, which were the epicentre of violence. Before the old wounds could heal, the fresh stir started again.
“There is fear among traders right now with the protests gaining momentum. Why will the victims of last year’s stir support this agitation? Announcing such things will have very large repercussions in long-term,” said Pooran Chugh, a trader in Rohtak.
Many even demanded a legal action against Malik for trying to vitiate the atmosphere by harming social harmony. “Everyone should raise voice against him. Coming from UP, he is leaving no stone unturned in dividing Haryana. The Khaps must come out and oppose him, and the government should take legal action against him,” said a local trader union leader.