Fresh violence in Haryana, toll 19; national highway still blocked.
New Delhi/Sonepat: The mindless violence in Haryana continued even as the Jat leaders in Haryana said they want to read the fine print of the proposal to include them as a special category within the Other Backward Classes.
A BJP-appointed high-powered committee, headed by union minister Venkaiah Naidu, met on Monday and discussed the demand. After the preliminary discussions it was decided to invite Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for deliberations.
The political initiative came even as the Supreme Court made an appeal to protestors to maintain peace and not damage property: the apex court has apparently decided not to intervene in the matter for now.
The frenzy, meanwhile, continued with stone-pelting mobs fighting pitched battles with security personnel who were trying to clear a road blockade; in the ensuing clash three civilians were killed, raising the death toll to 19 in the nine-day old stir. The incident happened near Ladsoli village, 55 km from New Delhi. In politically sensitive Rohtak, the main hub of the violence, the car of a judge was set ablaze despite curfew. There were instances of arson in Sonepat, too, with trucks being set ablaze.
According to NDTV, people were beaten up on National Highway 1. Curfew is still on in four districts – Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar and Sonepat. Schools and colleges remained closed on Monday for the second day. The Jat community has demanded a written assurance that they will be given reservation. An inconclusive meeting of Jat leaders was held in Bahadurgarh to decide whether the protests should be called off or not. In some areas there was a backlash and clashes ensued with other communities opposing the demand for quota.
The State government has decided to give full compensation for the damage caused to private property, residential or commercial, and to immediately assess the role of civil and police officers for dereliction of duty. Water supply to Delhi has been restored; the disruption took place when Jat leaders massed near the Munak canal and stemmed the flow. The canal has now been taken over by the Army.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal thanked the army for its intervention. “Thank u army, thank u Centre for securing Munak canal,” he tweeted. “We’ve completely run out of water.”
The Haryana cabinet also met on Monday to review the situation in the state. After the meeting, Health Minister Anil Vij reportedly threatened to resign: he was upset at a tweet by Agriculture Minister O.P. Dhankar that the government would give compensation of Rs.10 lakh and a government job to families of those killed in the violence. Vij argued that those killed could be rioters and could not be compensated. The NH-10 (Delhi-Hisar) was still blocked at Sampla town, 25 km from Rohtak town.
“The traffic on the Delhi-Chandigarh rail route has been restored. The Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Mathura highways have opened for traffic. Railway routes to other places are also being restored,” a Haryana minister said.
Thousands of people and vehicles are stranded on NH-1 as the Jats have laid siege to the highway in Sonipat and Panipat districts, cutting off road connectivity to Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.
The demonstrators uprooted rail tracks at various places, especially on the Delhi-Ambala section. Nearly 900 trains were cancelled in the region.