CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI:Haryana on Monday continued to remain on the boil with at least three more deaths after the Army opened fire to control a mob in Sonepat taking the toll in the Jat quota agitation to 19, though there were indications that the nine-day-old stir could subside by Tuesday evening as its leaders appealed to fellow Jats to lift blockades across the State.
The Centre, with the help of the Army and paramilitary forces, took control of certain key locations in Haryana like the Munak Canal and major roads on Monday. Yet, blockades continued in 449 places on railway tracks and roads despite the government assuring on Sunday that it will introduce a Bill in the ensuing Assembly session to give reservation to Jats.
Also, a purported audio tape of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s political adviser Prof Virender Singh saying the “protest was doing well in their area” while nothing much was happening elsewhere, gave the government a handle to criticise the Congress for using its dirty tricks department to create further unrest.
Meanwhile, national president of the All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, Yashpal Malik told Express, “The government has agreed to most of our demands. We have decided to call off the agitation. I have told my people to spread the word to lift the blockades by tonight. It will take some time for the situation to change on the ground.” Though all Jat leaders are not under one umbrella, a message has been sent to all to call off the stir, he claimed and demanded that a case be registered against BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini who allegedly made statements against Jat quota.
Monday’s firing happened at Sonipat, which killed three persons and took the death toll to 19. Around 183 people have been injured in the agitation so far.
The government has decided to compensate the damage caused to private property, whether residential or commercial. It also announced a financial grant of Rs 10 lakh and government job to the next of kin of those who died during the agitation.
However, State Health Minister Anil Vij offered to resign following differences in a cabinet meeting over compensation to the rioters. He felt the decision was taken in haste and was far from justified.
State Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that the government would not disturb the quota of 27 per cent reservation meant for the Other Backward Classes. As a bill is being brought, the government would make a separate provision for their reservation.
Meanwhile, water supply to Delhi from Haryana, which had been disrupted due to the Jat stir, is likely to be restored by Tuesday as security forces have taken control of the Munak Canal after evicting the protesters. But the protesters again blocked the canal at Kabru. Around 35 per cent of the canal has become operational and the remaining work is expected to be completed by Tuesday.
Traffic was yet to be fully restored on various national and State highways.
Thousands of people and vehicles were stranded on National Highway-1, cutting off road connectivity to Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.
The Centre has told the State government to clear the highways by using force if required.
In Sonepat, a mob attacked Army and paramilitary forces personnel who were trying to clear the Delhi-Ambala NH 1 blockade at Gadsoli village. After the mob pelted stones, the Army opened fire, killing three and injuring over 15 protesters. The agitators also set seven vehicles ablaze.
A freight train was set on fire by the protesters in Ganaur in Sonipat and fresh violence was reported from Meham sub-division of Rohtak district. The official vehicle of the sub-divisional magistrate was also set on fire by the mob.
Fresh curfew was imposed in Kaithal on Monday after a mob vandalized Padma Mall and looted shops. Curfew was again imposed in five villages of Hisar district and shoot-at-sight orders issued following a face-off between Jats and non-Jats. Earlier in the day, curfew was lifted from Hisar and Hansi towns.
A special train with 17 coaches, including three air conditioned ones, left for Delhi via western Uttar Pradesh with over 1,500 people on board.
“Security forces have been given free hand to clear all the blockades. We had rushed 12 companies of CRPF headed by a DIG rank officer to repair Munak Canal, which was damaged by the protesters. CRPF managed to repair around 30 per cent damage caused to the canal. Another unit of CRPF was sent to Saifabad water treatment plant, which was repaired to ensure water supply,” sources said.
Cong dirty tricks on show
A purported audio tape of ex-Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s adviser Virender Singh saying the “protest was doing well in their area” has surfaced. The State government saw in it a plot by the Congress’ dirty tricks department and decided to get the tape examined before taking action.
Not in full control
Curfew imposed in five villages of Hisar district, shoot-at-sight orders issued
Thousands of people and vehicles stranded on NH-1; road connectivity to Haryana, Punjab, HP cut off; Centre orders use of force to clear blockades
Agitators vandalise mall, shops in Kaithal
Eastern Rajasthan hit as protesters damage buses, block railway tracks, highway
Haryana grants Rs 10 lakh, govt job to next of kin of those killed during agitation; orders full compensation for property damaged
Water supply to Delhi expected to be fully restored on Tuesday