Jats threaten round 2 of quota agitation in Haryana

The ugly Jat quota stir in 2016 led to killings, widespread violence and arson with hoodlums running amok for days holding the state to ransom. PTI file photo

With the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government opening its second innings in Haryana, this time with a newfound coalition partner, the state stares at another disquieting Jat quota agitation. 

The ugly Jat quota stir in 2016 led to killings, widespread violence and arson with hoodlums running amok for days holding the state to ransom.  

The chief of All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharh Samiti (AIJASS), Yashpal Malik, has threatened to launch another agitation in case the government fails to accept its demands, including quota in jobs and withdrawal of cases against Jat’s involved in the violence in 2016. 

The AIJASS claims the form of the stir will be peaceful. That was supposed to be the structure of the stir even during the last quota agitation which spiralled out of control within a few hours of sporadic violence.

BJP’s new ally, the JJP, led by deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, is predominantly a Jat party. The BJP has a limited presence among the dominant Jat community in the state. Only a handful of saffron party Jat leaders managed to win the recent assembly elections. Given the nature of alliance politics, the BJP may be left with little option but to face the situation head-on and decide on the pending demands. The JJP’s overt supports for the cause of the Jat community is well-known and the BJP would want to avoid any confrontation, either with the JJP or the Jat’s on the issue.

Interestingly, credible voices within the BJP too have disparaged the incumbent BJP for not looking at the Jat issues seriously. Former BJP MLA, Prem Lata, who is the wife of former union minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, recently aired her opinion against the party for allegedly not doing enough on the Jat quota issue.  

Haryana looks back at the frightening reservation stir with awe. Hooligans in groups by design targeted properties of non-Jats. Their properties were burnt to ash, looted even as the administrative machinery and the state police initially then looked the other way. Properties of then BJP cabinet minister Capt Abhimanyu was also burnt during the agitation. 

Jats are also demanding government jobs to the kin of those killed in the violence. Malik said a meeting will be convened in December to announce the action plan. The reservation issue is pending in the court. 

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