Haryana’s Jat leaders put off a campaign for reservation in jobs and education after the state government called them for talks on Friday to resolve the simmering issue that saw protesters paralyse the state last month.
Authorities deployed thousands of security personnel to stop a repeat of the week-long rioting, looting and arson that engulfed about a dozen districts in February.
The BJP-led state government pledged that a bill to give reservation to the community will be passed during the assembly’s budget session that ends on March 31.
The Jat community has called for quotas similar to those provided to disadvantaged castes, saying it is struggling to compete with less-privileged groups for government jobs and university places. However, other caste clans have opposed this demand.
The chief minister’s office called protest leaders for consultation on the draft bill that is expected to be taken up by the assembly on Friday. The proposed legislation could not be tabled on Thursday owing to lack of consensus among BJP lawmakers.
Sources said several party MLAs from other communities have concerns about the draft.
The bill aims to grant special Other Backward Classes status to Jats and four other communities to entitle them to reservations in government jobs and educational institutions. But critics say the legislation is likely to be struck down by courts.
“There is no justification to grant reservation to Jats and this will breach the 50% limit (for quotas) set by the Supreme Court,” said an official. “This could infuriate several other castes enjoying reservation in the state.”
The Centre rushed 3,000 paramilitary personnel to Haryana on Thursday and deployed another 300 soldiers to guard the Munak canal that supplies water to Delhi.
The development came on a day police arrested a close aide of former chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was booked for sedition and criminal conspiracy after allegedly inciting violence during last month’s demonstrations
Dozens of people were killed in February when Jat protesters clashed with police and other groups, burnt down buildings and vehicles, and damaged the canal, leaving the Capital parched for days.