Army called in as Jat agitation turns violent, one killed

Army called in as Jat agitation turns violent, one killed
Army was today called in for deployment in eight districts of Haryana after one person was killed and 21 were injured in police action as Jat stir for quota turned violent and the rampaging mobs set ablaze the house of state's Finance Minister besides several government and private properties.

Protestors also took some police personnel captive besides going on rampage at many places including Rohtak, Jhajjar and Hansi targeting police and private vehicles, buildings housing offices, including two Toll Plazas at Hansi in Hissar district and near Rohtak, both located on the Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka National Highway.

The agitation, which has been going on for last few days, escalated and turned violent soon after an all-party meeting held by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar issued an appeal for calling it off but it was rejected by the protesters.

Khattar gave an assurance that a solution will be worked out to extend reservation to the community.

One protestor was killed in Rohtak when the BSF personnel opened fire in "self-defence" after someone from the rampaging mob fired at and injured a BSF jawan, Haryana DGP Yashpal Singhal told a press conference in Chandigarh.

Since the situation was going out of control, army has been called in for deployment in eight worst-affected districts -- Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind, Bhiwani, Hissar, Kaithal, Panipat and Sonipat, the state police chief said.

About 20 companies (about 2000 personnel) of central para military forces (CPMF) have been sought from the Centre, police said.

Today, for the first time, the rail and road traffic on the Delhi Ambala National Highway and mainline railway route was also blocked by protestors at various places including in Sonipat district.

A number of local, short distance and long distance trains, including Kalka Chandigarh Delhi Shatabdi have been cancelled in view of the Jats agitation.

The DGP said police personnel were taken captive by the large number of protestors at some places including Rohtak and the cops were unable to perform their duties.

The main impact of the Jats' agitation is in various districts of the state including Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Hissar, Fatehabad, Karnal, Jind, Yamuna Nagar, Sirsa and Gurgaon where road transport has come to a halt.

In Rohtak, the protesters set on fire the residence of Finance Minister Abhimanyu, police said, adding a car parked outside the house was also set on fire. In view of this incident, security in and around the residences of ministers and legislators has been beefed up, officials said.

The protesters, who had gathered at the Rohtak bye-pass road of Delhi Hissar National Highway, also allegedly attacked police vehicles which were parked there in which window panes were damaged, officials said.

The security personnel deployed there had to use force, including firing, to control the violent mob.

"There is one death of an unidentified person because of (suspected) bullet injuries," said authorities of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science & Hospital 21 injured people, including one critical, have been admitted to the hospital, its authorities added.

The Circuit House and the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Rohtak. were also attacked by the protestors who pelted stones on the buildings. A car parked at the IGP office was also damaged, officials said.

A police vehicle and some private vehicles, including a two wheeler, were also set on fire. The scooter of a person who was taking a sick to a local hospital was also set on fire by the protestors.

Elsewhere in various places in the state, protestors deflated tyres of cars of a number of people trying to travel on various National and State Highways in the state.

Haryana Roadways has suspended its local and inter-state bus services in the affected districts. Mobile internet services have also been suspended in various districts including Rohtak and Jhajjar.

Besides Haryana Police, personnel of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) personnel have been deployed in various districts, including the worst affected Rohtak.

Senior civil and police officers held a meeting at the state headquarters in Chandigarh to review the situation arising out of the violence being reported from various parts of the state.

Meanwhile a resident of Bhiwani approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court pointing out the difficulties and harassment being faced by residents of the state due to the Jat agitation. The Court has sought a status report from the state government.

Two senior civil and police officers - Principal Secretary (Home) A K Singh and ADGP B S Sandhu -- have been asked to proceed to Rohtak to monitor the situation and coordinate with local officials.

Late this, evening Jat protestors started their dharna near two railway stations located near Jind. Reports of violence at various places started coming in shortly after the all party meeting convened by the Chief Minister.

The participants of the meeting, besides raising the demand of reservation for Jats, appealed to people to maintain peace and law and order in the state.

Jat leaders, however, rejected the appeal by all parties to call off their quota protest even as the Chief Minister gave them an assurance that a solution will be worked out to extend reservation to the community.

The agitators refused to withdraw their protest till a legislation is passed giving quota to the community under OBC category and accused Khattar of having "casteist mentality" saying he did not belong to the community.

Trains on the Delhi-Ambala and Hisar-Dhuri routes were hit as the protesters squatted on railway tracks as part of their plan to intensify the stir. "The political parties have appealed to the agitating Jats to call off their protest to maintain peace and harmony in the state.

"Our first priority is that the Jat agitation should end today and peace maintained in the state. A way will be worked out to give reservation to Jats," Khattar said after the meeting.

He said blocking roads and hampering rail services were not the "right way" to hold an agitation.

Normal life has been severely affected in various parts of Haryana with the agitation hitting supply of essential commodities like milk, vegetables, LPG and petroleum products.

"Supplies of petroleum products are hit in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jind due to the agitation," an official said.

"Some of the fuel pumps in these districts have even gone dry. Similarly, the supply of LPG cylinders has also been affected in these areas," the official said.

Asked about BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini's remarks against Jat quota, Khattar said Kurukshetra MP's statement "should be considered as withdrawn".

Saini had earlier expressed objection over giving reservation to Jats and had even threatened to resign if there was "any loss" to reservation quota for OBCs.

The protests have disrupted road and rail traffic with the worst hit being the Rohtak-Jhajjar region, the epicenter of the protests, besides Bhiwani, Sonipat and Hisar.

Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division, Dinesh Kumar said, "Rail services at Hisar-Dhuri track were blocked at 12 noon today. Movement of trains on Delhi-Ambala track was also stopped at around 1 PM today because of the Jat protest."

The Delhi-Amritsar track has also been affected because of the protests, he said, adding the agitators had blocked trains between Sonipat and Panipat.

"We are trying to divert trains via Saharanpur for Delhi. We will have to cancel some trains as we cannot divert all of them," he said.

The agitators, who have rejected Khattar's offer of enhancing quota for economically backward classes, blocked several roads in Panipat affecting vehicular movement to Uttar Pradesh.

Haryana Roadways suspended its bus services on many affected routes in view of the agitation. The Jat leaders, meanwhile, showed no signs of relenting and claimed that they will seek "support" from the community leaders from Uttar Pradesh.

"We are not going to withdraw our agitation till our demand is met. We will intensify our agitation in other parts of the state, including Panchkula and Yamunanagar," All India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti's national president, Yashapal Malik, said.

"We want BJP government in Haryana to bring a legislation in the upcoming budget session to include Jats in OBC category. They should bring a law in the Assembly with regard to Jat reservation and get it passed," he said.

"All political parties including Congress, BJP and INLD are in support of our demand. Only Haryana CM has problem in giving reservation to Jats," he said. Malik accused Khattar of having "casteist mentality" as he did not belong to the community.

"Khattar has 'jatiwadi mansikta' (casteist mentality) because he is not a Jat. He is trying to prove himself as a leader of non-Jat people in the state by way of not giving reservation to Jats as was done by former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal in the past.

"His (Khattar) stand is against party line. The problem in Haryana today arose because of his mentality," he alleged.

Malik said that Rajasthan and Maharashtra governments had brought legislations in their respective assemblies to grant reservation to Gujjars and Marathas respectively.

Meanwhile, the order for the suspension of mobile Internet and SMS services indefinitely in Rohtak were issued by Rohtak Deputy Commissioner D K Behera in the wake of Jat agitation spreading in the district.

The order said it is feared that anti-social elements are spreading provoking pictures through Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and SMS which could further disturb the law and order situation in the district. However, mobile services will continue in the district.

State BJP president Subhash Barala said "the Haryana CM has said that the state government is ready to take every step to give reservation to Jats. Opposition parties have promised us support in the Assembly on the issue."

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also made an appeal for maintenance of peace and harmony in the state as there were "some forces" which were trying to create tension among the people.

"The CM has assured that a solution will be worked out after holding discussion with agitating Jats. The solution should be such that nobody should suffer and everybody should benefit. We have told the government to take a decision in this regard on an urgent basis," Hooda said.

INLD state president Ashok Arora asked the state government to seek an apology from Saini for his anti-Jat quota remarks.

"We have also told the government that if the Tamil Nadu government can give reservation to its people by amending law, then the Haryana government should also follow the same route to give reservation to Jats.

"However, it is for the government to take a decision. We also appeal to the protesting Jats to maintain peace in the interest of the state," Arora said. The meeting was also attended by CLP leader Kiran Chaudhary, Haryana Congress Chief Ashok Tanwar and Arora.

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