Jat agitation: Centre, Haryana govt give in; Rajnath sets up committee to examine quota demands
The Centre has bowed down to the pressure of Jats by agreeing to give reservation to the community in Haryana.
Rohtak: The Central and Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government on Sunday bowed down to the pressure of Jats by agreeing to give them reservation in jobs and also confirming that a bill will be brought in the next session of the Haryana Assembly in this regard.
Confirming the news, Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan said, “Reservation for Jat community in Haryana will be given in this Assembly session,” ANI reported.
The decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with the Jat leaders, who have been demanding reservation in government jobs from past seven days.
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 21, 2016
BJP general secretary in-charge of Haryana Anil Jain told the media that reservation to the Jat community would be given in the upcoming Assembly session.
"The prominent Jat leaders today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The Home Minister has taken serious note of the quota stir. It has been decided that Jat reservation would be given in the upcoming assembly session. The government will provide Jat reservation. In case of the Centre, a high-power committee will be announced today which will be led by a senior Union Cabinet Minister," Jain said after meeting the Home Minister.
"Amit Shah will make the announcement about this committee. I appeal to all the protestors to restore peace in the state and end their protest," he added.
Later, an announcement by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that a committee headed by Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu has been formed to look into the demand for reservation in central govt jobs for Jats.
The panel, which will give its report “at the earliest” to party president Amit Shah and the central government, is expected to look into the demands for quota in the central government jobs.
As the situation turned volatile, Singh appealed for calm. "I appeal to all to maintain peace and ensure that there are no untoward incidents," he said.
The Home Minister met a delegation comprising Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, BJP MP and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh and Haryana Minister Captain Abhimanyu to find a way to resolve the situation.
"Our purpose is to provide reservation which is definite & stands test of law &constitution," ANI quoted Abhimanyu as saying.
Meanwhile, after meeting with the Home Minister, Jat Sangharsh Samiti leader Jaipal Singh Sangwan appealed to the protestors to end the agitation in Haryana, saying "demands are met".
However, another leader of the Jat Sangharsh Samiti Rajesh Dahiya said a decision on calling off the agitation would be taken by the community later.
The Jat stir also hit Delhi with the Arvind Kejriwal government announcing closure of schools tomorrow as part of water rationing after supply from Haryana was disrupted. The national capital also witnessed massive traffic jams in some parts.
With violent protests by Jats escalating, Haryana Minister Anil Vij today made it clear that talks cannot be held with a "mob" and said Jats should form a committee to hold parleys with the state government.
Police and political leaders blamed "anti-social elements" for much of the anarchy that saw widespread attacks on private and government property, including vehicles, causing losses totalling hundreds of crores of rupees.
Nearly half of Haryana -- which borders Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and surrounds Delhi from three sides -- has been severely affected by the violence. In the process, life has been hit badly in a large swathe of northern India.
Congress urged the Jat community to withdraw their agitation while accusing the BJP government in Haryana of creating "provocative conditions" in the state.
Thousands suffered as the agitation paralysed life in the entire state, blocking rail tracks and highways, cutting off a chunk of northern states from Delhi.
National Highway No.1 (NH-1) -- connecting Delhi with Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir -- was blocked by Jats in Sonipat and Panipat districts. Thousands of vehicles and people were stranded along the highway.
Security forces on Sunday opened fire and used tear gas in an attempt to remove Jat demonstrators from Munak canal in Sonipat district to ensure resumption of water supply to Delhi. One person was killed, forcing the security forces to retreat in order to prevent further casualties.
The Jat protests have caused an unprecedented water crisis in Delhi, where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal closed down all schools on Monday and announced water rationing to all except a few VIPs and essential services.
Delhi, which gets almost all its water needs from Haryana, is expected to go without potable water supplied to homes on Monday.
Haryana Home Secretary PK Dass said the situation was "much better" on Sunday compared to Saturday. He said curfew was clamped in Kaithal town on Sunday and army and paramilitary forces were rushed to Gohana and Kalanaur towns.
Jat agitators resorted to arson and looting at various places. Major highways, especially NH-1 (Delhi-Ambala) and NH-8 (Delhi-Jaipur), remained blocked. Rail tracks were blocked at various places.
Road and rail connectivity in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as well as Chandigarh remained paralysed.
Jat leader Bhagat Singh Dalal, who attended the meeting with Rajnath Singh, said they were assured the community will get job quotas in Haryana and of formation of a high-powered committee.
Regarding the mindless violence which has left 10 people dead and with losses to private and government property running into thousands of crores of rupees, Dalal said: "Jats never indulge in violence. The agitation has been taken over by anti-social elements. BJP MP from Kurukshetra Raj Kumar Saini also vitiated the atmosphere."
DGP Singhal said the violence in the worst-affected Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar had been contained. "Ten people have been killed and nearly 150 injured."
Trains and buses to and from Delhi and other places have been cancelled. All major highways passing through Haryana have been blocked at several places.
Those opting for flights faced steeply-hiked fares. Air tickets from Chandigarh to Delhi were priced between Rs.25,000 and Rs.90,000 for the one-hour journey.
Singhal denied that there was lack of coordination between the army and the state authorities.
He said 69 columns of the army had reached Haryana and were deployed, especially Rohtak and Jhajjar. He said 191 police cases had been registered and 45 arsonists rounded up.
The civil aviation ministry on Sunday asked all airlines to operate more flights to Chandigarh to fly out stranded passengers.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway but the blockade was removed later. Jats also paralyzed road traffic in Ghaziabad bordering Delhi.
Boxer Vijender Singh, cricketer Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda, all from the Jat community, appealed to the Jats to shun violence.
(With Agency inputs)