The round 2 of the Jat agitation is about to begin with Jat groups ready to stage dharnas across the state from June 5 to protest against the high court stay on their reservation under the other backward caste (OBC) category. The intelligence inputs so far say the protests will be peaceful this time. However, in the wake of the unprecedented violence during February quota stir, the police and civil administration, especially those officials who were indicted by the Prakash Singh committee but still continue to enjoy the same positions, will have to be careful at every step.
The panel report notes that the public perception about officials was that “they failed to take preventive and proactive measures to nip the problem in the bud. Police failed to take effective action against the miscreants and rioters in the initial stages.” The Rohtak DC and SP also refused to come out for talks with the peaceful protestors at the initial stage, despite their repeated demands. The administration this time will have to ensure that it demoralises the protesters at the very outset to that the protest does not turn violent.
The report also comments on the “poor coordination between the magistracy and the police” which resulted in delay in enforcement of orders at various crucial spots. Various prohibitory orders, like section 144 and curfew, were also defied by the protestors in Rohtak and Sonepat where a complete lack of coordination was witnessed between DCs and SPs. As Prakash Singh said “power and responsibility cannot be divorced,” the civil administration and police officials will have to ensure that their coordination this time remains intact so that there’s no blame game to be played after the crisis.
Another point which the report makes is the inadequate use of police, central armed police forces (CAPF) and the army against the rioters. The committee notes that “during the period 7 to 22 February, when mild lathicharge was resorted to at 9 places, surprisingly no rioter was reported to have suffered injuries while 21 security personnel sustained injuries.”
With companies of paramilitary forces already deployed in seven districts of the state for June 5 protests, the administration has to be effective in utilising the force this time.