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Jat quota protest wilts, leader Malik missing in action

delhi Updated: Jun 07, 2016 11:55 IST

ROHTAK: The second phase of the Jat agitation, launched by the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) on Sunday, has fizzled out in almost all parts of Haryana.

The response to dharnas held by the AI J ASS remained muted in most areas over the last two days, with only a few hundred protesters turning up at the main protest site in Jasia village of Rohtak district — the epicentre of the quota agitation four months ago.

AIJASS president Yashpal Malik, who was supposed to address the rally at Jasia on Monday, disappointed his supporters by failing to show up. The quota stir spear head, who overplayed his hand in the absence of support from khaps and other organisations, is suspected to have kept away over a sedition case lodged against him by the Jind police recently.

Malik, however, told HT over the phone that he had gone to attend the funeral of a relative in Delhi. “I have promised (the family members of the deceased) that I will be in Uttar Pradesh for the next three days. I will come to Haryana after that,” he said, blaming the hot weather for the low turnout of protesters. Police sources said the AIJASS chief will face arrest in the sedition case if he enters Haryana during the course of the agitation.

No reports of violence emerged on the second day of the agitation, even as the size of the gatherings across the state shrunk significantly.

Khaps and many other Jat leaders have distanced themselves from the agitation, opting for the legal route instead. A law passed by the state government to provide reservation in jobs and education to the community has been stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Heavy police presence and repeated warnings by the state authorities also discouraged leaders of the Jat community from participating in the second agitation, sources said.

The Jats have now sought permission from the Rohtak district administration to protest along NH-71A near Jasia village from 10am to 4pm every day. “The police will not book anyone now, as long as the protest remains peaceful,” a spokesperson said.

Rohtak superintendent of police Shashank Anand said though the situation was under control, over 2,500 policemen and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the district.

A similar situation prevailed in other parts of the region. In Jhajjar, around 35 people gathered at Sector 9 and ended their dharna by evening after submitting a memorandum to Jhajjar SP Jashandeep Singh. Agitators in Jind shifted base from Jhanjha village because district authorities denied permission to protest at the site.

First Published: Jun 07, 2016 11:55 IST