The aftermath of the violent Jat agitation left people in Rohtak counting their losses on Tuesday — the loss of trust perhaps outweighing any other — as the town hesitantly inched towards normalcy.
Rohtak, the epicentre of the agitation, witnessed hundreds of incidents of arson and looting during the protests, hurting ordinary victims’ livelihood and leaving them emotionally scarred.
“We want weapon licences as we now know the administration will not come to our help. We have to defend ourselves,” Gulshan Dang, president of the district traders’ union, said.
Dang and fellow traders have been on a dharna for the past two days asking the state government to immediately compensate them for losses suffered during the agitation.
“According to our estimates, in Rohtak alone 400 shops were looted and then set on fire. Around half a dozen schools were also burnt down. In some cases, their buses as well. Four car showrooms were also targeted with more than 3,000 new and old vehicles in them burnt down. The city is shut for the past five days,” Dang told HT.
Monica Narang, who works with a local news channel, said she was scared at night even within the confines of her house. She lives in the Camp area of the town which saw heavy arson and looting. “Our boys were keeping a watch on the rioters at night,” Narang said.
Not far from where Dang and fellow traders sat on a dharna, a sit-in protest of Jats was on in front of Maharishi Dayanand University.
“Jats didn’t burn down shops. There were a few bad elements from outside who did all this,” Ram Rishi, a Jat from a nearby village, said. Rishi and a fellow protester showed a list of names of those dead or injured in the protest.
“Eight people were already dead of gunshots when brought here. One person died in hospital. We will sit here till all the dead are cremated and the injured discharged,” Rishi said.
In the list of the dead and the injured, the names of Jats were marked.
Asked about the trust deficit between Jats and other communities due to their protest, Rishi said with time the spirit of brotherhood would come back.
At the moment, that appears difficult. “Jat protesters targeted properties of Punjabis, Banias and Sainis only. It will be difficult for us to trust them again,” Rakesh Saini, a Rohtak native, said standing in front of one of the burnt schools.