CHANDIGARH: As many as seven persons were on Saturday reported killed in Jhajjar, while another person died at Kalayat in Haryana after the Army opened fire on Jat protesters demanding reservation under the OBC category. The State continued to remain on the boil and the situation worsened during the day as more protesters headed towards towns.
Fresh shoot-at-sight orders were issued in parts of Hissar and Hansi, while a milk plant was set on fire at Rohtak, with authorities urging residents to vacate the area fearing a gas leak. Meanwhile, arson and violence continued unabated as highways remained blocked with the protests spreading to the northern districts of the State. One person was killed in police firing on Friday.
Troops were airdropped in Rohtak and other places as Jat agitators dug up and blocked roads. The Army conducted Flag Marches in areas across the State where tension prevailed and strictly warned people to remain indoors. Around 23 columns of the Army have been deployed at different locations in the State and an additional 3,300 paramilitary personnel have been rushed in. The troops, however, were unable to move from Hisar and Jaipur due to blockades.
Besides Rohtak and Bhiwani, where curfew was imposed on Saturday, fresh curfew was imposed in Jind, Sonepat, Bahadurgarh and Jhajjar. At present, curfew has been imposed in six cities in the State.
The agitators have also started blocking roads in several parts of the northern districts, including Radaur at Yamunanagar, Indiri at Karnal and Ladwa at Kurukshetra.
In Jind and Rohtak, three schools, of which one is owned by Captain Abhimanyu, a BDO office, petrol pump, shops, a mall and toll plaza were set on fire.
All liquor vends in Bhiwani have been asked by the district administration to shut shop till further orders.
The agitators also attacked and pelted stones at the residence of BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini, in Kaithal. Former minister Attar Singh Saini’s brother was shot at in Hansi in Hisar, while Haryana agriculture minister O P Dhankar’s house was attacked.
Normal life remained paralysed as roads and railway tracks were blocked, affecting supplies of essential commodities. Jats and non-Jat communities clashed in Hisar where firing was reported.
Meanwhile, A K Singh, special officer with magisterial powers, along with DGP rank officer B S Sandhu reached Rohtak in a government helicopter even as Haryana DGP Y P Singhal admitted to police failure in containing the Jat agitation in Rohtak. He said 129 cases were registered, in which five persons have been arrested so far. Army and paramilitary forces conducted Flag Marches in the affected areas, he added.
Singhal said 13 columns of the Army have reached the State to assist the administration. Ten more columns are being airlifted to their respective destinations. In addition, 10 companies of paramilitary forces have reached the State and 23 more are on the way. These were either being airlifted or will reach by road. Singhal added that the Union Home Secretary has agreed to deploy 10 more companies shortly. He, however, denied any intelligence failure.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar made a fresh appeal to people to maintain peace and harmony. “I appeal to all my fellow Haryanvis to maintain law and order in the State and ensure that harmony is maintained in the society,” he tweeted.
National Highway 1 was blocked at several points on a stretch of about 40 km in Sonepat and Karnal. Railway tracks too were blocked which meant no trains plied on the Delhi-Ambala, Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka routes and Hisar-Dhuri sections as the agitating Jats squatted on railway tracks.
Meanwhile, the protesters set ablaze six buses and the office of a market committee in Julana, besides the Tehsil office and a building housing the Punjab National Bank in Uchana Kalan. Maruti car manufacturing plants at Manesar and Gurgaon were closed as the protest spread towards Delhi.
The agitators sought a written assurance from the government on their demand for quota in government jobs and education and said they cannot be taken for granted on the basis of empty promises.
Absurd Rs 54k to fly from Chandigarh to Delhi
With road and rail links paralysed, the only option to reach Delhi is by air. And private airlines have reportedly jacked up fares. While a Chandigarh-Delhi ticket costs around Rs 4,000-5,000, one passenger bought it for a whopping Rs 54,000.
Delhi government moves SC over water crisis
The Delhi government on Saturday night moved the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Centre to intervene and ensure water supply to the national capital from Munak Canal in Haryana which has been affected due to the Jat stir.
State of paralysis
■ At least eight killed; 84 injured admitted in various hospitals
■ Power station and irrigation dept office set on fire in Jhajjar
■ 1,500 vehicles stranded on NH-10
■ Over 1,000 buses and 300 trains fail to ply as Jats block roads, railway tracks
■ Over a lakh train passengers affected; Railways claims it has lost over Rs 100 crore
■ Coal supply to Punjab hit as over 80 goods trains cancelled