BJP in a spot: Jats threaten to take quota agitation to national capital
The agitating Jats seem determined to make life difficult for the BJP regimes in Haryana and New Delhi. The Jat leadership is seeking to turn their ongoing protests into a national agitation that could have far-reaching political implications.
The All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, led by Yashpal Malik, held another round of talks with the high-level committee led by Haryana Chief Secretary DS Dhesi in Panipat on Monday. The nearly four-hour discussion, however, remained inconclusive. Speaking with Catch, AIJASS spokesman Rohtash Hudda said, “It turned out to be a case of 'great cry and little wool'. We are not interested in such talks anymore. We plan to take the agitation to Delhi.”
The Dhesi panel was formed by the Haryana government on 7 February. Its other members are Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas, Principal Secretary (Industries) Devender Singh, Secretary (General Administration) Vijayendra Kumar and Additional DGP (Law and Order) Mohammad Akil.
Just before the meeting was to start, Malik reportedly said that it would take some time to reach a decision with the government. The two sides had earlier met on 11 February but the talks had remained inconclusive then as well. The Jat agitation has been going on peacefully since 29 January.
The Jats supporting the AIJASS have already taken a stand against the BJP in the assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and western UP. They are now planning to galvanise support against the BJP in the election to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, scheduled to be held in a couple of months.
Apart from pressing their demand for reservation in educational institutions and government jobs, the Jats are agitating for withdrawal of cases against their people booked and jailed in the wake of the violent Jat reservation stir last year. The Jats want the state government to drop murder and attempt to murder charges against the youth booked for last year's violence. They been saying that if cases could be dropped against protesters in Kashmir, why not against people in Haryana?
Announcing that their dharnas in Haryana will continue until all their demands are met, the AIJASS leaders decided at a meeting held in Jassia, Rohtak, on Sunday that from 1 March, they would launch a “non-cooperation movement” – they won't pay their power and water bills or loan installments. The day was observed as “Balidan Divas” in Haryana in memory of the people killed during the Jat agitation last year.
The Jats have also resolved to disrupt the supply of milk and vegetables to the national capital for one day; this particular day would be announced after 26 February.
Moreover, the Jat leadership is determined to observe 26 February as 'Black Day' and has asked MLAs from the community to give in writing that they stand by the agitators. According to Malik, observing a 'Black Day' is meant to protest the “divisive politics” of the BJP. The Jats have decided that all those men and women attending the protests on that day would be donning black apparel.
At the Jassia meeting, the Jats passed eight resolutions. They decided to start dharnas at 10 more places from 1 March and organise a demonstration in Delhi the next day in which Jats from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh would also participate. The new places where they propose to start the dharnas are in Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind, Kaithal, Panipat, Karnal, Dadri, Kurukshetra, Mewat and Panchkula.
The meeting at Jassia also saw the agitators passing a social resolution pertaining to marriages. They resolved that the practice of hiring Disc Jockeys, serving alcohol, dowry, brandishing of arms, resorting to wasteful expenditure and inviting large number of guests would be discouraged. They also resolved to do away with practices like organizing elaborate events following deaths and promoting education and sports among the community members.
The Jats also plan to gherao Parliament as a part of their long-term strategy. The date for this protest will be announced on 2 March but they have already started registering tractors and other vehicles for ferrying protesters to the national capital.
The Haryana government has been promising the agitating Jats that it would do everything to prevent the situation from getting out of hand as it did last year. The Rohtak district administration Monday disbursed cheques for Rs 15 lakh to 22 “innocent persons” who were injured during the agitation last year. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been saying that the demands of the Jats would be fulfilled “within the scope of the law”.