The Jat agitation over the reservation quota spread to northern Haryana districts of Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar and took a violent turn in Rohtak on Thursday evening when protesters clashed with police trying to evict them after the imposition of prohibitory orders in four districts.
The situation turned tense in Rohtak when Jat protesters started pelting stones as police tried to remove blockades from five locations, namely Jind road, Jat College, Pandit Neki Ram College, Power House Chowk and Medical Chowk in the city. The police cane-charged the protesters in a bid to disperse them but they were forced to retreat amid stone-pelting. The police later beat up protesters at Pandit Neki Ram College hostel.
Earlier in the evening, two lawyers were injured and two motorcycles were set afire in a clash between members of the Punjabi community and lawyers supporting the Jat protesters outside the Rohtak district court.
The district administration has declared holiday in all educational institutions of Rohtak till February 21.
Following the tension, police deployment was beefed up in markets of the city that remained closed on Thursday.
Deputy commissioner DK Behera said that the Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in the district as there were intelligence inputs that anti-social elements could join protesters to disturb law and order.
Rohtak SP Saurav Singh said, “Action will be taken to ensure the directions are followed.”
The agitation by Jats crippled normal life despite the state government assuring them to include them in quota for economically backward persons (EBP) of general castes and also increasing the EBP quota from 10% to 20%. The agitation spread from the Jat heartland of Rohtak, Sonepat, Jhajjar, Hisar, Jind, Bhiwani, Fatehabad to the northern districts of Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday convened an emergency cabinet meeting to review the situation. An all party meeting was convened at 11am on Friday in Chandigarh to discuss the quota demand of Jats.
Agriculture minister Om Prakash Dhankar said the Cabinet has appealed to agitating Jats to call off their agitation in the larger interest of the state.
He said the supply of essential commodities such as cooking gas, petrol and necessary services like ambulance have been affected. “Our fuel trucks have not reached us for the past four days and soon we will be out of stock. It will add to the woes of the people”, said an employee of a fuel pump on Delhi road in Rohtak. All Haryana Petroleum Dealers Association vice-president Bhushan Goel said of 102 petrol pumps in Rohtak more than 90 have already been declared dried and remaining may go out of stock if the agitation lasts for one more day. The agitation has also affected crushing operations of the co-operative sugar mills in Jat dominated areas of Rohtak, Meham, Gohana and Sonepat.
While all state and national highways had been blocked in Rohtak, Sonepat and Jhajjar districts for the past four days, Jat protesters blocked the Bahadurgarh-Delhi road at Bahadurgarh and Najafgarh of Jhajjar district, affecting traffic movement to Delhi from Haryana on Thursday. Bus services continued to be suspended in Jind, Rohtak, Narwana, Hisar, Jhajjar, Sonepat districts.