Violence continued in Haryana’s Jat-dominated districts on Monday despite government assurances to consider the community’s demands as three more protesters were killed in firing by security personnel, taking the death toll to 19.
The agitation was suspended in Rohtak, the epicentre of the movement, as the protesters gave the government a month’s time to fulfil its promises, Jat leader Dr Virendra Sindhu told HT.
The latest deaths were reported from Sonepat’s Larsholi village and curfew imposed in five villages of Hisar where shoot-at-sight orders were issued following a violent face-off between Jats and other community members.
Though the state police with assistance from the army managed to take control of a damaged portion of the Munak canal — the national capital’s water supply lifeline — in the morning, the respite was short-lived as Jat protesters blocked the canal gates at Khubru village in Sonepat district.
Home minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation. Government sources said the blueprint to take control of the critical Munak canal was cleared at a high-level meeting attended by the security brass.
“Around 13 companies (a company has about 100 personnnel) were deployed to secure the canal that carries water to Delhi,” an official said. Security forces took control of the canal in the wee hours of the day but its gates were damaged. “We expect normal supply of water to resume to Delhi in the next 36 hours.”
As troops moved in towards Rohtak, they were faced with roads dug up by protesters. “It was agreed to deploy a total of 72 companies; 65 are already on the ground and some more will be reaching soon,” another official said.
The state government got the arterial Delhi-Ambala highway cleared and blockades in Larsholi, Biswameel and Kamaspur in Sonepat district were removed. “Blockades on NH-1 have been removed. The road is clear for traffic movement,” Sonepat deputy commissioner Rajiv Ratan said.
Fresh violence was reported in Rohtak district where protesters allegedly torched the official vehicle of the Meham sub-divisional magistrate. Meham is the constituency of Congress MLA Anand Singh Dangi.
Road and rail blockades continued in several parts of Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Jind districts despite heavy army deployment. Tension prevailed in Kaithal where groups of Jats and non-Jats confronted each other.
The agitation by disparate groups of Jats is without a leader. “We don’t know who to talk to at different places and how to reach out to them, but efforts are on. Hopefully, they will understand that their demands have been met,” a senior IAS officer told HT. In Rohtak, shop owners, traders and other victims of mob attacks, whose establishments were burnt or damaged, were out on the streets demanding security and compensation.
The state cabinet on Monday decided to give full compensation for the damage caused to private property, residential and commercial. The cabinet also deliberated on the contours of a proposed legislation providing reservation in jobs and educational institutions under special backward class category to Jats and four other groups: Jatt Sikhs, Rors, Tyagis and Bishnois.
“We have decided to give a month’s time to the government to implement the assurance they have given us. There were incidents of violence against non-Jats which have given a bad name to the movement,” Sindhu said.
Pradeep Deswal, another Jat leader, told HT that khap elders had a meeting with state government officials in Rohtak. “Khap elders came back at 6pm and told us the state government has accepted their demands,” Deswal said.
“They told us that besides giving reservation to Jats in the state, R10 lakh will be given to those killed in police firing and a job to one of their family members. R2 lakh will be given to those injured and all FIRs registered against the protesters will be taken back. People agreed to it and the blockade in Sampla was opened around 7pm.”