Haryana limps back to normalcy; Khattar heads to Rohtak

Chandigarh, Feb 23 (IANS) Violence affected areas of Haryana limped back to normalcy on Tuesday even as authorities remained cautious about some parts which were still tense in the aftermath of the Jat agitation which paralysed life in the state in the last nine days.

Officials said that traffic had been restored on the Delhi-Ambala national highway No. 1 (NH-1). Three people were killed when Jat protesters blocked the highway on Monday, forcing security forces to open fire on them.

Traffic was also restored on the Delhi-Hisar NH-10, especially near Sampla town, police said.

Curfew was relaxed in Rohtak town, the worst hit by the Jat agitation violence, as Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar headed to the town on Tuesday.

Hisar and Kaithal districts remained tense after members of Jat and non-Jat communities headed for a clash. Army and paramilitary forces remained on high alert in both districts.

State government officials claimed here that road and railway blockades by Jat protesters were being removed from various places.

Earlier, uncertainty prevailed over the fate of the ongoing Jat agitation for reservation as the protesters continued blockades and protests at various places. The agitation entered its 10th day on Tuesday.

Despite the BJP promising reservation for the Jat community in Haryana and assuring that a bill will be brought in the next session of Haryana assembly, Jat protesters had not ended their agitation in Rohtak, Hisar, Sonipat and Jhajjar districts.

Uncertainty prevailed over restoring traffic on NH-1 (Delhi-Ambala) even though authorities claimed that all protesters have been removed from the highway and army was patrolling the affected parts.

Army and paramilitary forces remained stationed in the violence-hit districts.

In Jind, the district administration relaxed curfew on Tuesday. Offices, schools, colleges and other institutions are likely to re-open after a three-day break.

While unconfirmed reports put the death toll at 19, including three people killed in firing by security forces on rioters who were blocking the NH-1 in Sonipat district on Monday, the state government claimed that 16 people were killed.

Over 200 people have been injured in the mindless frenzy that has ravaged the state bordering Delhi. The loss to property is estimated to be in hundreds of crores.

The Jat protesters are demanding reservation under the OBC category in government jobs and educational institutions.

Some places in Haryana remained tense on Monday, with Jats demanding job quotas indulging in fresh violence and triggering a backlash by other communities, leading to curfew. More security forces were rushed to maintain law and order.

The Haryana government has decided to give full compensation for the damage caused to private property, residential or commercial, and to immediately assess the role of civil and police officers for dereliction of duty.

Police sources said the Jats fought pitched battles with soldiers by hurling stones and bricks near Larsoli village, 55 km from New Delhi. Highway resorts and eating joints were also set on fire and damaged. The army fired at them, leaving three dead and a few injured.

“The state government also decided to give an ex-gratia of Rs.10 lakh to the next of kin of those innocent people killed in the ongoing agitation and employment to a member of the family of the deceased. Also, no false case would be registered against anyone,” Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said.

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