Rattled by the violent agitations witnessed in Haryana last month, the BJP-led state government has bent over backwards to accord quota to Jats and five other castes under the backward classes category. Not everybody in community, however, seems to be satisfied.
The Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill-2016, tabled by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and passed by the state assembly on Tuesday, has failed to get an unequivocal thumbs up from the Jat community. The dominant community, hitherto seen as a powerful upper caste in the state, has given a mixed response to the bill – with some expressing reservations over its ability to withstand legal scrutiny.
Demand for a bigger share
While the younger generation among the Jats has called the quota bill “unsatisfactory”, khap and Jat leaders have welcomed the legislation providing 10% reservation in Class 3 and 4 posts and 6% in higher jobs to the six castes. However, All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) national president Yashpal Malik – who led the quota stir agitation – was not satisfied with his community’s share in quota for Class 1 and 2 jobs. He wanted the reservation for Jats in such jobs doubled to 12%.
Expressing confidence that the Supreme Court will not stay the reservation, Malik said that the AIJASS executive committee will meet in Delhi on April 3 to discuss quotas in central jobs and withdrawal of police cases against Jat agitators, among other things.
Hawa Singh Sangwan, another AIJASS leader who led the rail blockade at Mayyar village in Hisar, expressed satisfaction with the quota bill. “This was the only way to give reservation to Jats, but we will be completely happy only after we get reservations in central jobs,” he said.
Though khap leaders also praised the state government for keeping its promise, they were not as satisfied with the quota percentage. Nandal khap chief Mahender Singh Nandal asked: “How fair it is to give 10% reservation to communities that have a population of more than 34%?”
Nandal said that the community would take up the matter “peacefully” with the government.
Thumbs down from Jat youth
The Rohtak-based Jat Ekta Manch, however, criticised the government for “making a joke in the name of the reservation bill”.
Vinit Dhankar, a lawyer and Jat youth leader, said: “We are not satisfied with the bill at all. First of all, the government considered the KC Gupta commission report, which the Supreme Court has already dismissed. Second, they have requested the Centre to include the bill in the ninth schedule of the constitution, which is a very lengthy process.”
“Bills such as the one on goods and services tax have not been passed yet; how can we be sure this proposal will be passed? The 6% reservation in Classes 1 and 2 government jobs is not adequate. Jats don’t just want to be just jawans and clerks, we want administrative roles as well,” said Dhankar.
Netas divided along caste lines
While Jat leaders of the ruling BJP and the opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) welcomed the bill, several non-Jat leaders reacted sharply to it. Kurukshetra BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini, who opposed reservation for Jats, has termed the passage of the quota bill a “murder of democracy”.
“They (the Haryana government) have sold my house to others under pressure, but we will not tolerate it. We will move the Supreme Court,” said Saini.
Veteran Congress leader Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, who was a minister in the Hooda government, described Tuesday – the day the bill was passed – as a “black day” in the history of Haryana. Accusing the government of enacting the law at gunpoint, he demanded immediate action against AIJASS leaders for wreaking havoc in the state. Yadav also sought a white paper on the caste-wise break-up of jobs in the state.
INLD leader Abhay Chautala, however, appreciated the fact that the reservation bill for Jats was brought in without disturbing the existing quotas for other castes. “The government could have prevented largescale violence and loss of lives if it had brought in the bill a year and a half ago,” he said.
More than 30 people were killed in the Jat agitations, which began in Haryana on February 12 and later spread to neighbouring states.