Haryana seeks army help as Jat stir gets out of control, one killed

Rohtak/Chandigarh, Feb 19 (IANS) The Haryana government on Friday called in the army to contain the situation in eight districts of the state severely affected by the ongoing Jat agitation, including in Rohtak town, where one person was killed and over 10 were injured, including a BSF trooper, as a violent mob went on the rampage.

Haryana Director General of Police Y.P. Singhal told media in Chandigarh that the army has been called in, in Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Panipat, Jind, Kaithal, Bhiwani and Hisar districts.

“The government has asked the army to be called in eight districts. The request has been sent. The chief secretary has spoken to the army chief. The chief minister (Manohar Lal Khattar) has spoken to defence minister (Manohar Parrikar). The effort is to deploy the army as soon as possible to control the situation,” he said.

A protestor was killed and at least 10 injured when a BSF unit fired in self-defence after being fired upon by the protestors. A BSF trooper was injured in the firing. The injured were taken to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak, 75 km from Delhi, police said.

“One person from mob fired on BSF personnel with a home-made weapon. The BSF fired in self defence and one person was killed,” Singhal said, adding that the mob did not allow the injured trooper to taken to hospital and efforts were being made to rescue him.

He said that a mob attacked a Haryana Police official and other policemen near the Maharishi Dayanand University gate and held the hostage and more forces had to be sent to rescue them.

“A leaderless mob is moving through Rohtak town. They came near the Circuit House and damaged the vehicle of the deputy inspector general of police, two police vehicles and set on fire another police vehicle,” Singhal said.

The mob attacked the office of the DIG, and set the house of Finance Minister Abhimanyu on fire. At some places in the town, black smoke could be seen coming out of property set on fire by the agitators, who even manhandled media persons at some places.

“We are trying to stop the mob,” the police chief said, adding that three companies of paramilitary forces were already stationed and 30 more companies would be deployed in Haryana soon.

Protestors had clashed with security forces in Rohtak on Thursday evening when police tried to remove the blockades.

The authorities blocked Internet and SMS services in the affected districts.

Appealing to protesters to end road and rail blockades, Singhal said that curfew had not been imposed in Rohtak or other places so far.

Thousands of trucks, carrying supplies and goods, were stranded in the affected districts due to highways and roads being blocked. Over 40 trains were cancelled by railway authorities across Haryana on Friday as the Jat agitation escalated.

In Gurgaon, Jat protestors blocked roads, leading to traffic jams and chaos in the city, adjoining the national capital.

Life continued to be affected in most parts of Rohtak, Jhajjar Sonipat, Bhiwani, Jind, Hisar and some other districts as the agitation by Jats for reservation in jobs and educational institutions continued for the sixth day on Friday.

The protestors have blocked roads, highways and railway tracks, inconveniencing the common man. Hundreds of railway passengers were stranded as protestors blocked the Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar railway track at Rajlu Garhi village in Sonipat on Friday evening.

Railway authorities cancelled several trains, including express trains like Kalka-Delhi Shatabdi Express, Pashchim Express and others.

The stir escalated even as the Haryana government called an all-party meeting in Chandigarh to discuss the reservation issue and the Jat protests. The meeting urged the protestors to end their agitation and remove blockades.

Jat leaders however rejected the appeal.

After the all-party meeting, Khattar said: “The government is in favour of reservation for Jats in the state and is trying to find out ways and means for the same.”

Referring to statements of BJP’s Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini, who is opposed to reservation for Jats, Khattar said he had been asked to withdraw his statement against the protestors.

Security had been tightened at Saini’s house in Kurukshetra town.

Agriculture Minister O.P. Dhankar meanwhile said in Gurgaon that the state government was ready to give special backward class quota to the Jats.

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