Rohtak/Chandigarh, Feb 20 (IANS) Haryana continued to be on the boil on Saturday as youth protesters of the Jat community set on fire government property, buses and other vehicles at several places. Even as the Army moved in to control the situation in the worst affected areas of Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts, reports of more violence in Jind, Kaithal and Sonipat districts were received.
Army columns conducted flag marches at various places in the violence-hit districts as the security forces grappled with the tense situation in areas where the Jat agitation demanding reservation had turned violent.
However, the army did not take its flag march towards Gate No.2 of Maharishi Dayanand University in Rohtak town as nearly 3,000 Jat youth protesters laid siege to the area, armed with sharp-edged weapons, despite warnings by the authorities not to venture out of their homes.
Protesters set several buses on fire in the Gohana bus stand in Sonipat district, 210 km from Chandigarh.
Mobs set a police station in Meham town on fire. A railway station was set on fire in a village in Jind district, a dharamshala was set on fire in Jhajjar and buses were set on fire in Julana and Kaithal towns.
A police station and railway station was set on fire in Pillu Khera area of Safidon sub-division in Jind district. Buildings of revenue departments were also set on fire at some places.
The toll plaza on the Panipat-Rohtak highway was also set on fire by mobs.
Protesters uprooted the Delhi-Ambala railway track at Rajlu Garhi in Panipat district.
Curfew continued in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar towns on Saturday. In Rohtak town, scores of shops were set on fire by mobs.
Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) Y.P. Singhal said 129 cases have so far been registered against those agitating. He claimed that the situation improved on Saturday compared to Friday.
Haryana home secretary P.K. Das said no untoward incident was reported from Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts.
“A petrol pump and Sadar police station in Meham were damaged and set on fire. The national highway-1 (NH-1) is blocked but efforts are on to get the blockade lifted,” the DGP said.
“Thirteen columns of army have reached the state and are assisting the administration. Ten more columns of the army are being airlifted to their respective destinations.
“In addition, 10 companies of paramilitary forces have reached the state and 23 more companies are on their way to Haryana. These were either being airlifted or reaching by road,” Singhal said.
The DGP said the ongoing agitation in Haryana was “leaderless”, and the role of outsiders in the violence could not be ruled out.
Despite the army being deployed, the situation in Haryana continued to remain tense.
Soldiers were airdropped earlier on Saturday in violence-hit Rohtak town after the protesters blocked and dug up roads to prevent the entry of the military.
The agitation began as Jats demanded reservation for the community in government jobs and educational institutions.
Looting and arson continued in the town through Friday night with unruly mobs targeting malls, shops and other buildings and many of them were set on fire.
Indian Air Force helicopters conducted several sorties to transport soldiers into some parts of Rohtak town.
“Around 20-30 troops were being brought into Rohtak town by choppers. They will be deployed in areas which are under siege of the Jat protesters,” a senior officer told IANS.
Reports said NH-1 was blocked by protesters in Sonipat district, 50 km from Delhi.
The Delhi-Ambala railway track remained blocked since Friday evening. Hundreds of passengers were stranded as railway authorities cancelled several trains on the route.
Nearly 550 trains were either cancelled or diverted since the agitation began a week ago.
On Friday, the agitation intensified and resulted in the death of three people and injuries to nearly 100 people, including security personnel.
A mob also attacked the office of the Rohtak range inspector general of police (IGP) and set the house of Finance Minister Abhimanyu on fire on Friday.
Jat leader Hawa Singh Sangwan said youth have taken over the agitation.
The authorities also blocked internet and SMS services in the affected districts.