Amit Rathi remembers his father distributing sweets when the Haryana government declared Jats in the state as Special Backward Class, giving them 10% reservation in jobs under government bodies and educational institutions in January 2013.
But the joy was short-lived for Rathi and people of his community as by mid-2015, the Punjab and Haryana high court stayed the decision. “Our anger has been simmering since then,” said 25-year-old Rathi, one of the protesters on National Highway 1 connecting Delhi and Haryana.
Rathi, a resident of Sonipat’s Kundli village, feels that his community never got its due. Last year, he finished his MA and keenly observed the developments under the new regime in Haryana. The anointment of ML Khattar, a non-Jat as the chief minister left a sense of insecurity among the members of his community.
Watch | How people of Haryana suffered during Jat quota agitation
Regular anti-Jat statements allegedly made by the BJP MP from Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini, further antagonised his community, said Rathi. “This is fight for our honour. If people like Saini believe that Jat is a non-entity, he is wrong. We will show him our worth,” he said, wielding an iron rod in one hand and a smart phone in the other.
He claims that the representation of his community is the maximum in armed forces. Yet, it is regularly humiliated. “All my life, I have seen less-deserving candidates getting degrees and jobs simply because they enjoy quota benefits,” he said.
According to him, the theme of this agitation should have been ‘no reservation’ suggesting that either the government cancels reservation under all categories or fulfil the demands of the Jat community.
This is the first time that Rathi is involved in a protest and ‘good fun’ is how he describes the experience. “I believe I am contributing to a cause. Every day when I leave home, I tell my mother that either I will return or will become a martyr.”
There have been a few high points for Rathi. “We were successful in blocking the NH 1, considered to be the backbone of trade between Delhi and Haryana. The road is blocked for more than 24 hours now. This morning we stopped water supply to Delhi. This will go very far,” he said.