Jat quota stir: CM Khattar heckled in Rohtak by angry residents

  • Neeraj Mohan and Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, Rohtak
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2016 21:06 IST
As soon as he reached Rohtak, the Chief Minister’s car was gheraoed by angry people who raised slogans like “Haryana Police murdabad” to protest the state police’s alleged failure in controlling the violent situation

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar was heckled by angry Rohtak residents on Tuesday when he visited the district racked by rioting and looting for about 10 days as Jat protesters demanding reservation have burnt houses and vehicles, vandalised businesses and disrupted water supply to Delhi.

Angry crowds comprising traders and shopkeepers waved black flags and shouted slogans against the BJP leader, forcing him to cut short a speech though he promised the people they would be “fully compensated” for their losses.

“The state government will act against those government and police officers who made any lapses in performing their duty,” Khattar said. “No cases will be registered against innocents but the culprits will not be spared, including those involved in loot, arson and killing. Families of innocents who have lost their lives will be given Rs 10 lakh as compensation.”

Rohtak has been the epicentre of a fierce uprising by the Jat community that 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 groups have opposed this demand for reservation.

Though the ruling BJP struck a deal with protest leaders on Sunday in a bid to end the raging crisis, sporadic incidents of violence were reported from the state and neighbouring Rajasthan while anger is boiling among the victims whose livelihoods have been ruined.

The Punjab and Haryana high court directed the state government to submit a status report by Monday after a petitioner pointed out that there was complete breakdown of law and order.

Khattar quoted industry body Assocham saying the state has suffered losses worth Rs 20,000 crore while 19 deaths have been reported during the protests. He and two of his ministers then headed to Delhi to meet parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu who heads a committee that is examining the Jat community’s demand for reservation.

The Rohtak administration relaxed a curfew for four hours on Tuesday to allow people to buy essential items, while traffic resumed on the arterial Ambala-Delhi Highway up to Haryana’s Panipat district.

The army on Monday retook control of the Munak canal that supplies three-fifths of the water to Delhi. Officials said normal supply will resume in about two weeks.

Automobile major Maruti Suzuki announced that it has resumed production at its plants in Gurgaon district bordering the national capital.

While a clutch of Jat leaders have officially called off the movement, protesters have been asking for written assurances from the government that their demands will be met.

(With inputs from agencies)

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