The army was deployed in eight districts of Haryana with curfew and shoot-at-sight orders imposed in two of them after protests by the Jat community for quotas in jobs and education turned violent on Friday, leaving three people dead and dozens injured.
The state government, which held an all-party meeting in Chandigarh, agreed to bring a bill declaring the Jats and four other castes as special backward communities, but failed to pacify the protesters.
The Centre also sent in 3,300 paramilitary personnel as rampaging mobs held policemen captive, vandalised a mall and set ablaze several government and private properties including the houses of a minister and an MLA from the ruling BJP.
Members of the dominant agricultural community in Haryana have been calling for quotas similar to those provided to the disadvantaged castes, saying they are struggling to compete with less privileged groups for government jobs and university places. However, other caste groups have opposed their demand for reservation.
Home minister Rajnath Singh called up Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar about the volatile situation and took to Twitter to appeal for peace and order in the state.
Protesters burnt cars, police jeeps and trucks, blocked traffic, tried to torch properties of state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu and BJP MLA Manish Kumar Grover and also wrecked the Agro Mall building in Rohtak district, according to reports.
A demonstrator was killed in the district when BSF personnel opened fire in “self-defence” after someone from an agitated mob shot at and injured a jawan, Haryana DGP Yashpal Singhal told a press conference in Chandigarh.
Watch | Agitation over Jat quota continues in Haryana
The turmoil echoes violence that engulfed Gujarat in August last year over quota demands by the Patel community that left several people dead.
“If the government is serious about giving reservation, it must bring an Ordinance without any delay instead of suppressing the protesters by using force,” Jat leader Yashpal Malik told HT.
Rohtak was virtually split in two by the Jats and protesters from rival groups as the city remained under siege for the sixth day.
According to reports, schools will remain shut on Saturday in the eight districts racked by violence. Authorities have blocked internet and SMS services in the affected areas.
Top Union ministers – Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj –reviewed the law and order situation in the state along with NSA Ajit Doval and Intelligence Bureau chief Dineswar Sharma.
Thousands of trucks carrying essential supplies and goods were stranded in the affected districts as highways and roads were blocked. Dozens of trains including the Shatabdi Express and Pashchim Express were cancelled by the railways as protests escalated.
In Gurgaon, Jat demonstrators blocked roads, leading to traffic jams and chaos in the city adjoining the national capital.
(With inputs from Chandigarh and agencies)