Haryana Cabinet Decides To Bring Bill On Jat Reservation Issue, Violence Continues

22/02/2016 7:46 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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People block Chandigarh Shimla highway in Panchkula in Haryana state, India, Sunday Feb. 21, 2016. As thousands of members of an underprivileged community in northern India continue to protest to demand government benefits, the more than 16 million people in India's capital are facing a water shortage as a result of the violent demonstrations, which have left many dead. (Kapil Sethi. via AP)

CHANDIGARH--Haryana Cabinet today decided to introduce a bill on the Jat reservation in the coming session of the state Assembly.

"A bill will be brought in the coming session of Haryana assembly," state's Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told reporters after a cabinet meet.

The meeting chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar took stock of the prevailing situation in the state due to the ongoing Jat quota stir.

Sharma said the date of the Assembly session was yet to be decided.

ALSO READ: Haryana Government Will Grant OBC Status to Jats

With violence continuing in the state, the minister said 16 people have died in the agitation.

He made a reference to the recent all-party meeting, which had been called by Khattar in the wake of the Jat quota stir.

"In the all-party meeting, the chief minister had told Congress and INLD members that the two parties should sit together and come out with a draft (on the reservation issue).

"We had said that from the government side we will bring a bill in the Vidhan Sabha after taking into consideration their draft," said Sharma, who holds portfolio.

Sharma said that his party had yesterday announced setting up of a five-member committee under a senior union minister to examine the quota demand for Jat community in government jobs.

A committee headed by Union minister Venkaiah Naidu has been formed to look into the demand for reservation.

The committee under Naidu will have BJP vice-presidents Satpal Malik and Avinash Rai Khanna, besides Union ministers Mahesh Sharma and Sanjeev Balyan.

Regarding the situation in Haryana with reports of fresh incidents of violence in different parts, Sharma said "the cabinet took stock of the situation prevailing in Haryana.

Sharma said, "as far as road transport is concerned, that is normalising."

"Rail traffic on Delhi-Chandigarh track has resumed from Delhi to Rewari, Mahendergarh, Loharu, Bikaner, Alwar, Jaipur normal," he claimed.

Asked that the financial loss due to the ongoing agitation that had been pegged at Rs 20,000 crore, Sharma said the state government has sounded the Centre about it.

"Exact figure can be arrived only once different departments will make full assessment about the damage, which will take some time," he said.

On incidents of Jat versus non-Jat clashes being reported from some places, he said "whatever happened was unfortunate."

Asked if the state government had "failed" to bring the situation under control, he said the government is taking steps while exercising restraint.

Death Toll At 16, Violence Continues

Violence continued to rage in the state with stone-pelting mobs attacking security personnel trying to clear a road blockade and torching government vehicles even as the death toll in the nine-day old Jat quota stir was put at 16.

As protesters continued to block some roads including the arterial Delhi-Ambala Highway, the Centre directed security forces to use force to clear blockades.

"The security forces were asked to use force to clear all the places where the protesters were squatting affecting communication network and water supply," a Union Government official said in Delhi.

The All India Jat Aarakshan Sanghursh Samiti (AIJASS) later in the evening announced lifting of its dharnas on national and state highways in view of the BJP setting up a committee under a Central minister to examine the quota demand for the Jat community.

Besides Sonipat, fresh incidents of arson and violence erupted in several districts including Rohtak, Kaithal and Hissar.

Sonipat Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Rattan said personnel of Army, paramilitary forces and the police who were trying to clear a road blockade in the district were attacked by the mob which pelted stones on them and also used lathis. Some security pesonnel were also injured.

"Yes, there are casualties, may be one or three, but I can't give any exact figure immediately," he told PTI.

The mob went berserk setting on fire government vehicles, indulging in vandalism and attacking the security forces, the DC said, adding there was tension in the entire area.

The latest incident came within hours after two columns of the Army comprising around 150 personnel, besides CRPF and Haryana Police contingents took control of the Munak canal at around 4 AM today from protesters who had cut off the water supply to Delhi, from Akbarpur-Barota in Sonipat.

Following fresh incidents of arson and violence, curfew was reimposed in five villages of Hansi sub-division, Hissar city limits and Kaithal. Curfew was imposed in five villages of the district and shoot-at-sight orders issued following a face-off between Jats and other community members.

Senior Haryana Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar that 16 people have died in the ongoing Jat agitation.

Making a fresh appeal for an end to the agitation, Sharma said a Bill will be brought in the coming Assembly session of on the Jat reservation issue.

When asked what will be the shape of the Bill, he said the date for the commencement of the assembly session was yet to be decided and did not elaborate on the details.

The Jat protesters also continued to block some roads including in Rohtak, Hissar and Bhiwani districts.

Road traffic on various national and state highways from Hissar to various destinations, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Sirsa, Siwani and Bhiwani remained suspended.

Railway traffic from Hissar to various destinations including Delhi, Ludhiana, Bhiwani and Sadulpur also remained suspended.

Haryana Government has announced a relief of Rs 10 lakh to family of each deceased. Besides, a government job will be given to a family member and no case against innocent would be registered, Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar said.

Efforts to reopen the crucial Delhi-Ambala National Highway failed today with protestors putting up blockade at several places between Panipat and Delhi. The highway connects Delhi with North India, including Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

As efforts were on to clear the blockade at Larsoli between Ganaur and Murthal, two other blockades were reported from Beeswan Meel near Rai and Kamaspur near Bahalgarh with protestors taking on the security personnel. The police had used force including lathicharge on the protestors at both the places.

Incidents of violence were also reported from Kaithal where also curfew was lifted last night, but reimposed today.

A large number of stick-welding protesters vandalized a mall and several shops in the violence-hit district today where army and police have been deployed.

Agitators also set afire a two-wheeler and vandalized some other vehicles in the district, officials said.

Later, several members from non-Jat community took out a protest march against the administration for its alleged failure in providing safety to their shops and commercial establishments.

They raised slogans against the administration.

A government vehicle belonging to local SDM in Meham in Rohtak district was set ablaze by protesters. Rohtak and other areas had witnessed major damage to public and private property after the Jat protest turned violent.

According to reports, blockades were also lifted in Kurukshetra and Jhajjar areas.

To clear the rush of passengers, the Railways ran a special train from Chandigarh to Delhi.

The train ran from Chandigarh to Anand Vihar station in Delhi and was diverted from Ambala on to Saharanpur route to reach the national capital since the mainline Ambala-Delhi rail route has still not been cleared for rail traffic, a Northern Railways spokesman said.

Water Supply In Delhi To Be Released

Water supply to the national capital from Haryana is expected to be fully restored tomorrow after security forces took over control of the Munak canal and evicted all the Jat protesters from that place.

Top government sources said 35 per cent of the canal, located at 100 km from Delhi in Sonepat of Haryana, has been operationalised today as protesters had damaged the supply line thereby disrupting normal flow of water.

ALSO READ: SC Seeks Status Report From Haryana Govt Over Delhi Water Supply

"Repairing work is going on and we hope that by tomorrow it will fully be operationalised with its maximum capacity," a source said.

Sluice gates at Khubru and Gadbidroli, part of the Munak canal, were badly damaged and repair works were going on in full swing, the sources said, adding all protesters who were squatting at the site, were evicted.

Director General of CRPF Prakash Mishra said "part supply" has been restored by security forces from the Munak canal by joint forces led by a CRPF Deputy Inspector General (DIG) who took control of the canal early today at about 4 AM.

The force has also taken control of the Saifabad water plant in Delhi's Narela area, a senior official said.

Commanders of the paramilitary supervising Jat protests operations said 12 companies (about 1,200 personnel) of the CRPF and others drawn from the army and paramilitary SSB have been posted for the security of the canal who will also help engineers and labourers to restore it.

A women contingent of Rapid Action Force (RAF) has also been stationed there, they said.

They said that the force, which has deployed the largest number of 49 companies among various security forces, has been asked to clear the "lines of communication" like blocked roads and stuck traffic in the state witnessing protests by Jats.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the situation in Munak canal is "okay now".

"As per my information, the place from where the water is diverted is being properly guarded and the army is helping the local administration," he told reporters in Delhi.

Haryana's Irrigation Department officials are at the spot and carrying out repairs in Munak canal.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has called a state Cabinet meeting to take stock of the situation in the wake of the Jat agitation.

Delhi has been facing water crisis following cut in its supply from Haryana due to the stir, prompting the city government to order closure of all schools today and rationing of water.

Haryana DGP Yashpal Singhal had said yesterday that their first priority was to restore Delhi's water supply from Akbarpur Barota point in Sonepat.

Haryana's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) P K Das had said they were facing difficulty in evicting protesters from Munak Canal and had temporarily suspended the effort to evict them as the situation could turn volatile.

However, after BJP announced setting up of a committee to examine the quota demand of the community yesterday, fresh attempts were made to persuade the protesters to vacate the canal area.

(With inputs from PTI)

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