People suffer as Haryana Jat agitation enters eighth day

Chandigarh, Feb 21 (IANS) Thousands of people continued to suffer as the violent agitation by Jat community protesters in Haryana entered the eighth day on Sunday.

The agitation paralysed life in the entire state, cutting off all northern states from Delhi.

With trains to and from Delhi and other places being cancelled, buses not plying, all major highways passing through Haryana blocked by protesters at several places and railway tracks being blocked and uprooted, thousands of people suffered as they were stranded at different places.

Prices of flights from Chandigarh to Delhi were hovering between Rs.25,000 and Rs.55,000 for the one-hour journey.

With roads and railway tracks blocked, flights are the only safe option to travel from Chandigarh to other places.

Chaos reigned in Haryana on Saturday with escalated violence in several areas as hooligans, who have joined ranks of Jat protesters, ran amok setting on fire the government and private property as well as vehicles.

Curfew was imposed in Hisar, Sonipat and Jind towns after violence. Agitation was also reported in Kaithal. Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar towns were already under curfew since Friday evening.

The National Highway No. 1 (NH-1), connecting Delhi to Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, has been blocked by Jat protesters at several places in Sonipat and Panipat districts.

Thousands of vehicles and people were stranded at different places along the highway.

NH-10 and NH-71 have also been blocked in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts.

The ‘Sada-e-Sarhad’ bus service between Delhi and Lahore and the Samjhauta Express link train from Delhi to Attari (Punjab) have also been affected.

The Delhi-Ambala railway tracks have been blocked by protesters in Sonipat and Panipat districts.

The Haryana government and the state police have failed to react adequately to the violence.

At most of the places, where the unruly mob of youth went on the rampage and set buildings, buses and other vehicles on fire, the Haryana Police and other security forces remained mute spectators.

The worst affected districts are Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Hisar, Jind, Kaithal and Panipat. The army has been deployed in these districts and the situation was far from being under control.

Violence escalated on Friday and Saturday, with several buildings, police stations, railway stations, buses, private vehicles and other property set on fire and damaged.

Hundreds of shops were looted and set on fire by the mob in Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar and other places.

Buses were set on fire in Gohana, Julana, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bhiwani and other places.

At least five more people were killed in Haryana on Saturday as the violence escalated, forcing the state government to seek additional columns of the army and more paramilitary forces to control the situation.

“Four people lost their lives in district Jhajjar and one was killed in Kaithal when the armed forces opened fire to quell arson and firing. Five people were injured in Rohtak. Apart from this, 10 people, including some police personnel, were injured in Jhajjar,” a state government spokesman said here.

At least three people were killed in firing by security forces on Friday in Rohtak.

Additional security forces were requested as Haryana remained on the boil on Saturday due to violence by Jat protesters in several districts.

The losses due to the government and private property was estimated to be thousands of crore.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in New Delhi discussed the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has appealed to the protesters to stop the violence and his Bharatiya Janata Party has invited them to hold talks with the party’s central leadership.

Khattar’s predecessor Bhupinder Singh Hooda, of the Congress party, said that he would start a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday.

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala demanded that the Khattar government be dismissed and president’s rule be imposed in the state in view of the deteriorating situation.

The 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 violence occurred.

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