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Jat agitation: Protest, which threatened to cripple Delhi, postponed; Haryana CM Khattar meets community leaders

The Jat agitation that threatened to cripple normal life in Delhi on Monday was postponed, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Jat leader Yashpal Malik announced on Sunday. The decision followed several rounds of parleys in Delhi between the government and prominent Jat leaders spearheading the community's agitation in neighbouring Haryana.

 Jat agitation: Protest, which threatened to cripple Delhi, postponed; Haryana CM Khattar meets community leaders

Members of the Jat community gather in Delhi to demand a greater quota in education and government jobs. Reuters

After the announcement, the authorities in Delhi, which was on tenterhooks, eased restrictions which were proposed to be put in the capital on Monday. Delhi Metro said its services will now run normally except for curbs on exit at certain stations close to Parliament.

However, there was violence in Fatehabad in Haryana on Sunday when jat agitators were stopped by police from moving towards Delhi. At least 35 people, including an SP, a DSP and 16 other policemen, were injured in the clashes.

Special Commissioner of Police Dependra Pathak said security arrangements at the borders, in New Delhi area and other places will remain intact and that the security situation will be monitored closely.

"The police presence will be there. We are continuously monitoring the situation so that if any situation is precipitated, we are able to handle it," he said.

The Jat community, which has been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, among other things, resumed their agitation on 29 January.

Jat clash with Haryana Police

At least 18 Haryana Police personnel, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and women police officials, were injured on Sunday in Fatehabad district of Haryana when Delhi-bound Jat community protesters clashed with them, police said.

The police personnel were trying to stop them at a barricade to prevent them from moving towards Delhi.

The clash took place on the Sirsa-Hisar-Delhi Highway near Dhani Gopal village in Fatehabad district, around 200 km from here when the protesters, who were on tractor-trolleys, were stopped.

Police used force, including cane charge and lobbed teargas shells, as the protesters pelted stones. The injured police personnel were rushed to hospital in Fatehabad. The DSP was reported to be seriously injured.

The Jat mob even set two buses on fire and damaged police vehicles. Police officials said that the Jat protesters were carrying sharp-edged weapons on the tractor-trolley when they were stopped.

As the protesters argued with the DSP and other police officers, one youth allegedly hit the police officer with a wooden log on the head from behind. Soon other protesters also attacked the police personnel and some media persons present there with stones.

The protesters outnumbered the police force present at the barricade.

Authorities in Haryana had imposed a ban on the movement of tractor-trolleys in districts bordering Delhi to foil a call given by Jat leaders to lay siege to Delhi and hold a protest outside Parliament, which has now been put off on the assurance of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Jat agitation demands

Apart from Khattar, Union Ministers Birender Singh and PP Chaudhary — both Jats — threw their weight from the government's side to persuade the Jat leaders to postpone their agitation in support of their demands and grievances.

Khattar said both sides have reached a consensus on five points, including initiation of the process of reservation for the Jats in central government jobs, reconsideration of cases lodged against Jat agitators since 2010 and permanent jobs to next-of-kin of those killed and those maimed during the 2016 February agitation in Haryana.

Besides, the government will also give monetary compensation to the injured and institute probe against officers accused of high-handedness during the Jat stir, he said.

"All this will be done in a time-bound manner. Our government is committed to the welfare of the Jats," the chief minister said.

Union Minister of State for Law and Social Justice PP Cahudhary said that the process for Jat resrevation in central government jobs will start after the chairperson and other members of the National Commission for Backward Classes have been appointed.

Malik said the Jats will not undertake the proposed march to Parliament on Monday. However, he said, token dharnas at some places in Haryana would continue for the time being.

Khattar, who was to visit Lucknow to attend the swearing-in of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, called off his visit to be available for parleys with Jat leaders in his state.

The protest call had set alarm bells ringing in Delhi as Parliament is in session. There were apprehensions that normal life would be severely hit in the national capital, apart from the fact that students were to sit for board exams on Monday.

Internet services restored in Haryana

Internet services, which had been suspended in many "sensitive" districts of Haryana, were restored on Sunday evening after the Jats called off their proposed march to Delhi on Monday.

The authorities had earlier suspended all Internet services and bulk messaging facility on mobile networks till 9 am on Monday, in order to prevent rumour-mongering. Liquor shops, which were to remain closed in the "sensitive" districts till 9 am on Monday as per the earlier orders, can now follow their regular timings, an official spokesman said.

Prohibitory orders under section 144, CrPC were imposed and Internet services suspended in many "sensitive" districts, including Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Hisar, Sirsa, Bhiwani and Kaithal, as a precautionary measure in the wake of the Jats' earlier plan to gherao the Parliament on Monday.

The spokesman said the deputy commissioners of the districts concerned will take a decision on lifting the prohibitory orders shortly.

Delhi Metro services resumed

After the Jats called off Parliament march, the Delhi Metro announced it will run normal services on Monday but there will be no exit from Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Lok Kalyan Marg stations in the heart of the capital on the Yellow Line on Monday.

Police had on Saturday asked the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to curtail its services to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in a bid to foil the entry of Jats into Delhi.

Subsequently, the Delhi Metro announced it will suspend services to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and close 12 important stations from Sunday night.

The administration had imposed prohibitory orders in 15 districts of Haryana, including Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Panipat, Hisar, Kaithal, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Jind and Sirsa.

The Jat leaders were earlier in talks with a panel of government officers, but these had remained inconclusive.

Violence during the agitation last year had left 30 people dead and over 200 injured. Government and private property worth hundreds of crores of rupees was damaged.

The Haryana chief minister appealed to people in the state to cooperate in maintaining peace and harmony.

In view of the planned march on Monday, prohibitory orders had been clamped in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to stop the Jat protesters from entering Delhi.

Yashpal Malik addresses media after meeting

Yashpal Malik also appealed to people in the state to cooperate in maintaining peace and harmony.

"Ab Jat Dilli na aa rahe (Now Jats are not coming to Delhi). We have called off our agitation and march towards Delhi. The state government has agreed to our demands," Malik told reporters after the meeting.

He added that the community will call off its dharna from most of the places in the state, barring few where it will continue with symbolic protests.

A Haryana ministerial panel led by senior Minister Ram Bilas Sharma had held talks with the Jats in Panipat on March 16, after which the minister had said that an agreement had been reached with the community and the deadlock could end soon.

About 24,700 paramilitary personnel had been mobilised to maintain peace. Metro and road transport has been curtailed and several schools have been closed in the national capital.

The Jat agitation entered the 50th day on Sunday.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2017 10:15:50 IST