“I have got real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) of Rs 10 lakh in my account. With this amount I cannot even get my mall cleaned, leave alone rebuilding the entire thing. All my hard work of so many years has been reduced to rubble,” said Suresh Sharma, the owner of Rohtak’s burnt down RN Mall.
Sharma, like scores of others whose shops, business establishments and institutions were looted and completely burnt down in the mindless arson by Jat protesters in last month’s violent agitation for reservation, says that non-Jat community businessmen are uncertain whether they want to re-build their establishments in Haryana or move out to other places.
Rohtak’s only McDonald’s outlet, which Sharma brought in Rohtak almost 18 months ago after a lot of effort, has been charred along with the multiplex cinema halls, high-end gyms and other showrooms in the RN Mall. The mall’s staff, numbering over 100, stare at a jobless future.
“My estimated loss in the Mall alone is over Rs 7 crore. Even I am jobless as of today. So is all my staff. We don’t even know where the money for re-building the whole thing will come from. The interim relief is hardly of any use. The government should compensate the whole loss immediately as the police and administration failed to provide security for our establishments,” Sharma told IANS.
“I don’t understand how the Khattar government is going ahead with the ‘Happening Haryana’ Investors’ Summit when the existing ones have suffered losses of hundreds of crores. Who will invest in a state where such lawlessness prevails?” he said.
The protesters even set the RN Engineering College, owned by Sharma and his family, on fire at Makroli Kalan near here. “They took away all computers and other equipment and burnt down the building. The loss at the college is around Rs 4 crore,” Sharma said.
The arsonists specifically targeted establishments owned by people from non-Jat communities like Punjabis, Sainis, Brahmins and others, local traders point out.
The BJP government in Haryana, led by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, having failed to contain the violence, is trying to give an impression that it will compensate all losses suffered by people. Much of this is being done ahead of the March 7-8 ‘Happening Haryana Global Investors’ Summit’ being held in Gurgaon.
“Haryana government has so far released an interim assistance of Rs 20,04,75,291 (Rs 20.04 crore) to 1,537 persons whose properties were damaged in the recent agitation in the state,” an official claimed in Chandigarh.
Among the sufferers of the violence is the family of Haryana’s finance and industries minister Abhimanyu Sindhu.
The minister’s house was set on fire continuously for three days. Nearly a dozen cars, including high-end luxury ones, were burnt down. His family members had to take refuge in a neighbour’s house to save themselves and were later airlifted in a chartered helicopter.
Indus Public School, a big private school owned by his family, in which his wife Ekta Sindhu is the chairperson, was set ablaze, along with 18 school buses.
The Sindhu family is reported to have made a claim of Rs 25 crore to the Haryana government for the losses suffered by it in the agitation.
Three other prominent schools (Scholars Rosery School, Pathania School and Shriram Global School) in and around Rohtak were also ransacked and burnt down by the protesters. Studies of nearly 15,000 students have been affected by the closure of schools.
Trade and industry body Assocham has projected the loss in the violence at around Rs 20,000 crore.