Rohtak (Haryana)--Army was called in today in nine districts of Haryana and curfew was imposed in two districts along with shoot-at-sight orders after the Jat stir for quota turned violent with mobs resorting to widespread arson. The death toll climbed to three overnight and at least 25 people were injured.
The Centre also rushed 1,000 personnel of paramilitary forces as rampaging mobs 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.
Ripples of the violence that rocked Rohtak and Bhiwani were felt closer to Delhi, in Gurgaon too. Protesters blocked several arterial roads and important crossing, holding the city ransom.
"Blocked roads included Sohna Road, Daultabad flyover, Dhanwapur level crossing, Bajghera level crossing, Sector 5 road near Gyandeep School, Subhash Chowk, Chaudhary Bakhtawar Chowk, Maharana Pratap Chowk, Dhankot, Basai and Gurgaon Gaon," reports The Indian Express.
Paramjit Pawadia, the Rashtriya Jat Mahasabha spokesperson, threatened that the blockades are indefinite and will remain imposed till their demands are heard.
According to a report on NDTV, the Army had to use choppers to enter Rohtak as protesters had blocked all entry points.
The agitators, who are seeking reservation under Economically Backward Classes, also targeted police and private vehicles, buildings housing offices, including two Toll Plazas at Hansi in Hissar district and near Rohtak, both located on the Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka National Highway.
One of the deceased was a protester who was killed in Rohtak when the BSF personnel opened fire in "self-defence" after someone from the rampaging mob fired at and injured a BSF jawan, Haryana DGP Yashpal Singhal told a press conference in Chandigarh.
Delhi's water supply took a hit following the protests as the agitators blocked the Munak canal, an important source of water for Delhi.
Late into the night, home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, external affairs Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Manohar Parrikar held an emergency meeting to review the situation. NSA Ajit Doval was also present in the meet, reports IE.
Singh appealed for calm and said, "We cannot resolve a problem using violence. Need to reach solution through talks."
Meanwhile, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked the Haryana government to file a status report on the crisis within three days. "The court has also issued notices to Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti through its national general secretary, a resident of Ladwa in Hisar, and All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti through its president Hawa Singh Sangwan of Bhiwani," reports IE.
Army has been called in for deployment in eight worst-affected districts -- Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind, Bhiwani, Hissar, Kaithal, Panipat and Sonipat, the state police chief said.
Army has also been rushed to Karnal, army sources said in Delhi, while informing that nine columns are being sent altogether.
Curfew was imposed in city limit areas of Rohtak and Bhiwani city limit areas, an official spokesman told PTI.
The agitation, which has been going on for last few days, escalated and turned violent soon after an all-party meeting held by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar issued an appeal for calling it off.
The protesters rejected the appeal even as Khattar gave an assurance that a solution will be worked out to extend reservation to the community.
Army units were being rushed to Rohtak from nearby Cantonment at Hissar, about 50 kms away, the official spokesman said, adding these will be deployed immediately in Rohtak and Bhiwani areas.
He said army units are also being rushed from Jaipur for deployment in other worst-affected areas of the state.
The army will assist the civil administration in restoring peace and law and order which worsened today shortly after an all party meeting here where an appeal was made for maintaining peace.
Two senior civil and police officers - Principal Secretary (Home) A K Singh and ADGP of Haryana Police B S Sandhu - have been rushed to Rohtak to coordinate with the army and the civil administration to restore normalcy.
With inputs from PTI.
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