Losses mount as Jat stir spreads in Haryana

Chandigarh, Feb 18 (IANS) The agitation by the Jat in support of their demand for reservation continued to affect normal life in various districts of Haryana for the fifth day on Thursday.

Even as the protests by the Jats — demanding reservation in jobs and educational institutions — spread to a more areas of Haryana on Thursday, losses continued to mount for the railways, roadways, transporters and other private operators due to road and rail blockades put up by agitators.

Parleys between Jat leaders and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday failed to resolve the deadlock on the issue.

Road and rail routes were blocked around Rohtak town, 75 km from Delhi, and at other places in Jhajjar, Sonipat, Hisar, Bhiwani, Kaithal and Jind districts. The Rohtak-Delhi railway track has also been blocked. No state roadways buses are able to leave or reach Rohtak town.

People in Rohtak faced inconvenience as essential supplies to the town were disrupted. Students were unable to attend classes due to blockades. Some schools and colleges have been shut since Monday. Even the road in front of Maharishi Dayanand University’s main gate in Rohtak was blocked by Jat protestors.

“At several places, protestors blocked highways and roads by parking trucks and other vehicles and putting up make-shift barricades of cut trees and big stones. It seems the Haryana government and police are mere mute spectators as people continue to suffer,” Rohtas Kumar, a college student in Rohtak, said.

The Rohtak-Jhajjar road, Rohtak-Sonipat highway, Rohtak-Sampla road, Rohtak-Panipat road, Rohtak-Bhiwani and other roads were blocked by Jat protestors at several places.

Paramilitary forces have been deployed in and around Rohtak and other affected districts.

“Loss to the railways due to cancellation of over 25 trains and diversion of others can run into several crores of rupees daily,” a senior railway official of Ambala division told IANS.

The Jat protestors in Hisar district blocked the NH-10 (Delhi-Hisar) and the Hisar-Chandigarh highway. Commuting to Bhiwani, Fatehabad, Ludhiana and Chandigarh has become difficult for people. Students of the Jat College in Hisar have blocked the Matka chowk area in Hisar town, 240 km from Chandigarh.

They have blocked railway lines in the area also, including the Hisar-Bhiwani and Hisar-Ludhiana tracks.

Jat leaders warned that the agitation will not be withdrawn till the Khattar government came out with substantive action on their demand for reservation for the community in government jobs and educational institutions.

“The Khattar government did not show any sign to resolve the matter. They did not come up with any concrete proposal for the Jat community at a meeting held in Chandigarh yesterday (Wednesday),” Jat leader Satbir Punia, who attended the meeting, said.

The Haryana government on Wednesday announced doubling of the quota for the EBC (Economically Backward Classes) category to 20 percent after the meeting with Jat leaders. The Jats have rejected the move.

The chief minister also announced an increase in the annual income ceiling for quota from earlier Rs.2.5 lakh to Rs.6 lakh so that maximum people could avail of benefits under this category.

Khattar on Thursday again appealed to the protestors to remove the blockades.

“I appeal to the Jat protestors to end the blockade. The government is trying its best to resolve the issue,” Khattar said here.

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