Jat leaders today began a fresh quota agitation in Haryana even as over 5000 paramilitary personnel were deployed along with large contingents of the state police to maintain law and order.
Jat leaders in Jassia village of Rohtak district, the epicentre of violence during the February stir, began the agitation by performing a ‘havan’.
Jats owing allegiance to All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), which gave the call for the protest, have pitched a tent along the Rohtak-Panipat highway just outside Jassia. AIJASS is holding dharnas in 15 of the state’s 21 districts.
AIJASS Hisar president Rambhagat Malik said, “We are committed to holding dharnas in a peaceful manner.” Certain other Jat leaders have also expressed a similar view.
A Jat leader in Jassia said in addition to their quota demand, they also want withdrawal of “false” police cases registered against community members during the previous stir, status of martyrs for those killed and jobs for their next of kin, besides compensation for the injured.
Central forces, along with the state police, have carried out flag marches in several sensitive towns, including Rohtak, Sonipat, Bhiwani, Hisar, Jind, Kaithal and Jhajjar.
Paramilitary forces and the state police are maintaining a close vigil on national highways and railway tracks, which the protesters had blocked for several days during the earlier agitation.
“Fifty-five companies of paramilitary personnel drawn from CRPF, RAF, ITBP and BSF have been deployed in sensitive districts,” Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said. One company comprises nearly 100 personnel.
He said areas have already been specified for dharnas and anyone indulging in any activity violating the law will be dealt with strictly.
A special round-the-clock control room has been set up in Chandigarh to monitor the situation, he said.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, senior officials including the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the state DGP, are keeping a close watch on the situation, officials said.
Khattar had earlier said the Jat leaders had given him an assurance that they would hold peaceful dharnas, even as he has appealed to the community members to cooperate in maintenance of law and order.
Police and paramilitary forces have also been deployed to guard the Western Yamuna Canal in Sonipat district. Protesters had disrupted water supply to the national capital by damaging a channel of Munak Canal during the stir.