CHANDIGARH: Fresh incidents of violence were today reported in Haryana as the Jat stir for quota intensified with protestors torching a railway station in Jind even as the Army conducted a flag march in two curfew-bound districts and used helicopters to reach parts of the blocked Rohtak district.
As the violence by Jat protestors demanding quota continued unabated, Chief Minister Manohar Khattar issued a fresh appeal to the people to maintain peace. Normal life was crippled in Rohtak, the epicentre of the ongoing agitation, and Bhiwani in the wake of violence which broke out yesterday during the stir, and many other parts of the state with rail and road traffic hit, and shops and commercial establishment and schools remaining closed.
The Army conducted flag march in Rohtak and Bhiwani today where curfew remained in force. The Army could not enter Rohtak through road as protesters had put up blockades on Delhi, Hisar, Rohtak, and Fazilka highways, forcing the authorities to air drop them, official said. As the protest intensified, some unidentified persons set on fire the Budha Khera Railway Station in Jind district this morning.
The furniture, record room and other articles were set on fire at the railway station, which falls in the Jind-Panipat rail section, police said. Sporadic incidents of violence and arson were reported at several places overnight despite authorities imposing curfew and issuing shoot at sight orders at Rohtak and Bhiwani besides prohibitory orders in Hisar, Jhajjar, Jind, Kaithal and Panipat. Haryana government had yesterday called the Army in nine districts while curfew was imposed in two districts along with shoot-at-sight orders after one person died and 25 were injured during the Jat stir for quota which turned violent with mobs resorting to widespread arson.
The Centre has also rushed 3,300 personnel of paramilitary forces to control the rampaging mob. After the Jat reservation turned violent yesterday rampaging mobs had held some policemen captive besides setting ablaze the house of state's Finance Minister Abhimanyu and several government and private properties in Rohtak, Jhajjar, Hansi and several other parts of the state.
Protesters had also targeted police and private vehicles, buildings housing offices, including two Toll Plazas at Hansi in Hisar district and near Rohtak, both located on the Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka National Highway. The agitating Jats also squatted on the rail tracks in Gurgaon district today, affecting movement of trains. A Jat protester in Gurgaon said community members want a "written assurance from the government this time. We cannot be befooled with hollow promises every time".
He said Jats did not believe in violence and it was "anti-social" elements who were indulging in such acts to defame the community and to derail their agitation. Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki had to cancel his function in Gurgaon today, where he was to address a group of women, with an official saying the decision was taken in view of the situation prevailing in the state. Protesters have also blocked NH-1 near Nangal village in Sonipat district, affecting movement of traffic, which connects Punjab, HP, Chandigarh and J&K.
The protesters have also set on fire a government office in Beri in Jhajjar district besides some vehicles in Safidon. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has made a fresh appeal to the people to maintain peace and harmony. "I appeal to all my fellow Haryanvis to maintain law &
order in the State, and ensure that harmony is maintained in society," he tweeted. Khattar had recently held talks with Jat and Khap leaders here, but these failed to bear fruit as the protesters remained adamant on their main demand of OBC quota in government jobs and rejected his announcement of enhancement of the quota of reservation for Economically Backward Classes in the state from 10 to 20 per cent.
Rail services remained badly affected with as many as 37 trains cancelled while 22 have been partially cancelled by the railway authorities. A number of passenger trains, long distance including super fast passing through or originating in Haryana will remain cancelled today, railway authorities said.
Among the trains which have been cancelled from Chandigarh on Delhi route include the Shatabdi trains and the Himalayan Queen.