CHANDIGARH: Burning of two Dalit childrensparking widespread condemnation, fixing of minimumqualification for panchayat poll contestants and Supreme Courtendorsing it, Twitter-happy minister Anil Vij's frequent brushwith controversy and passage of a stringent cow protection lawwere some of the highlights of 2015 in Haryana.
A number of other issues also made news -- the state'smove to introduce Gita in school curriculum, an alleged paddyscam raked up by the Opposition, more incidents pertaining toDalits, charge sheet against senior IAS officer Ashok Khemkabeing dropped, launching of Centre's flagship 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' campaign and yoga guru Ramdev made the state'sbrand ambassador.
Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhalso remained in limelight for his new avatar as actor as hefeatured in his own flick "MSG: The Messenger" and its sequel.The Congress and principal Opposition INLD kept up theattack on the government over its alleged failure on issuesrelated to power, farmers, employees, guest teachers, andworsening law and order.
Despite scathing attacks from the Opposition parties,which branded the ruling dispensation as "inexperienced" and"non-performing", the government led by first-time MLA andfirst-time Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar set the ballrolling for putting in place a transparent and graft-freeadministration.
The government undertook various initiatives of e-governance aimed at reducing interface between the publicand government functionaries to help minimise corruption andrendering citizen-centric services in a time-bound manner. On the sports front, Olympic bronze-medalist VijenderSingh, the country's most celebrated boxer hailing fromBhiwani, surprised many with his decision to bid adieu to hisamateur career by turning professional in June.
The beginning of the year saw Prime Minister Narendra Modilaunching the 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' (save the girl childand educate her) campaign from Panipat, while the fag end ofthe year brought good news for the Khattar government, withSupreme Court upholding the constitutional validity of the lawthat made minimum educational qualification compulsory forcontesting panchayat elections in the state. However, if there was one person who stole the limelightthis year, it was outspoken Health and Sports Minister Vijwhose no-holds barred comments on Twitter and otherwise attimes even left his own government and Khattar embarrassed.
Hardly a day passed by when the five-time BJP MLA fromAmbala Cantt did not remain in news as he launched unsparingattack on the Nehru-Gandhi family, attacked Robert Vadra overhis company's land deals in Haryana, had a spat with a womanIPS officer and started an online poll for declaring cow asnational animal. In November, Haryana's cow protection law, passed by theAssembly in March, came into force after President PranabMukherjee's assent. Cow trafficking, slaughtering and eatingbeef are banned in the state under the new law, which providesfor rigorous imprisonment ranging from three years to 10 yearsfor killing the animal.
Mid October also saw a major row erupting over Khattar'sreported comments over beef. As BJP had made land deals under the previous Congressregime in Haryana a major poll issue last year, alleging thatland rules were relaxed to favour a few, including CongressPresident Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Vadra; Khattar in May setup the Justice S N Dhingra Commission to probe grant oflicence to some entities, including Vadra's company inGurgaon.
In December, the term of the Commission, which was tosubmit its report to the government within six months from thedate of its first sitting, was extended for six months tillJune 2016. The Khattar regime also turned the heat on the previousCongress government, coming out with a white paper in March onstate's financial health, depicting a grim picture of theeconomy.
In May, the BJP government ordered a vigilance inquiry tolook into the allotment of 11 industrial plots by the previousregime in Industrial Estate, Panchkula in December 2011 to thealleged "undeserving candidates". However, as the state government was close to celebratingits first year in office towards October end, the incident oftwo Dalit children being burnt alive rattled the nation whileanother incident involving death of a teenage Dalit boy inGohana in Sonipat also left the people shocked.
Prior to this, communal violence hit Ateli village inFaridabad district in May. Opposition parties leveled charges of paddy scam worth Rs24,000 crore, alleging that farmers had been cheated bycommission agents. Farmers suffered extensive damage to cropsdue to unseasonal rains in February-March while white fly pestwreaked havoc to their cotton crops in July-August.
However, the government dismissed charges of Oppositionthat it was "anti-farmer" and compensated the farmers fortheir crop damage paying over Rs 1,100 crore. Employees of various departments remained on warpathover their several demands while the Jat reservation issuealso remained in news.
November brought relief to senior IAS officer AshokKhemka, as Haryana government dropped charge sheet against himin which he had been charged by the previous Congress regimewith exceeding his jurisdiction as he had cancelled themutation of a land deal between a firm owned by Robert Vadraand realty major DLF.
In May, Rohtak police arrested several members of a gangfor leaking the question paper of the All India Pre-MedicalTest (AIPMT) 2015 held for 6.3 lakh students across thecountry. The Supreme Court later cancelled the test andordered that it be re-conducted. The BJP government also took initiative of setting upwomen police stations in districts.
Land registration has been made easy and IT-enabled andseveral services offered by Health, Revenue, Education,Industrial Training and Revenue Departments are availableonline. Land deals, have been made online too. Minimizing marks for interview at the time of selection tocurb the menace of nepotism was another initiative of theKhattar government taken during the year.
After presenting its first budget in March, the governmentrolled out its Entrepreneurs Promotion Policy, 2015 fourmonths later, seeking to woo both domestic and globalinvestors. In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated themuch-awaited Badarpur-Faridabad Metro which connects thenational capital with the satellite town. In November, Modilaid the foundation stone of three major highway projects inthe state--Western Peripheral Expressway, Eastern PeripheralExpressway and eight-laning of Highway section from MukarbaChowk (Delhi) to Panipat.
Four sportspersons -- Babita Kumari, Bajrang, MandeepJangra and Manjeet Chillar -- were bestowed the prestigiousArjuna awards. Archaeologists found four human skeletons, believed to be5,000 years old, from the site of Harappan civilization atvillage Rakhi Garhi, near Hissar during earlier part of theyear.
Towards July end, Khattar expanded his cabinet inductingthree ministers, taking the total number to 13 ministersincluding himself. Thirty patients suffered damage to their eyesight inbotched surgeries in Panipat and Ambala.
33-year-old Sunil Jaglan, the sarpanch of Bibipur villagewho was behind "Selfie with daughter", also remained in newsearning repeated praise from Modi on various platforms for hisefforts for the girl child. The state government also made efforts to trace themythical Saraswati river which is said to have originated fromAdibadri in Yamunanagar district.