With agitation over, Jind district returns to normalcy


Chandigarh: Haryana’s Jind district Thursday started moving back towards normalcy with resumption of road and rail traffic as the protesting Jat community, which called off their 11-day-long agitation Wednesday, started removing the road and rail blockades they had put up. The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Haryana has heaved a sigh of relief that the agitation passed off without any violent incident.

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With past agitations by the Jat community leading to violence, and even deaths, top officials in the Hooda government Thursday said that tactful handling of the agitation ensured that no violence took place and the protests did not spread much to other districts this time.
Jats demanding a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into last year’s Mirchpur caste violence, ended their 11-day-old agitation in Jind, 200 km from here, Wednesday afternoon after meeting Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda late Tuesday.

The entire Jind district remained cut-off from the rest of the state during the agitation. After calling off their protests, Jat agitators removed the barricades they had put up to block the national highways and important road links here. They also vacated the Delhi-Ferozepur rail line Wednesday, which they had occupied for the last 11 days.
“Jind had been infamous for its violent agitations and police firing resulting in a number of casualties. The earlier Kandela agitation, which was conducted during the earlier INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) government led by Om Parkash Chautala, had resulted in 9 casualties in police firing,” an aide of the chief minister, requesting anonymity, told IANS Thursday.

The latest agitation, which was launched at Jind to demand a fresh inquiry by a SIT and shifting back of the trial and the under-trials in the Mirchpur violence case to Haryana from Delhi, had spread to adjoining districts also.

“Political forces were also active to score over the Congress government by having some bloodshed or inter-caste violence,” the aide said.

Mirchpur village in Hisar district hit the headlines last year when some people from the politically dominant upper caste Jat community set fire to a row of houses of Dalit (Balmiki) families April 21.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically-challenged daughter were killed in the fire and at least 18 houses were destroyed in the attack.

As many as 150 Dalit families were driven out of the village, about 300 km from Chandigarh, and their homes were torched.

The trial of the youths accused of the arson attack was shifted to New Delhi in December following the directions of the Supreme Court.

A total of 98 Jat youths were arrested in the case and are currently lodged in a jail in New Delhi.

“The opposition was eyeing this agitation as an opportunity to bounce back after four consecutive losses to Congress party in parliamentary and state assembly elections. The Congress could have lost the hard earned goodwill of either of the Jat or Balmiki communities,” the aide pointed out.

Hooda, who himself belongs to the Jat community, handled the agitation with a carrot and stick policy.

“While not letting the situation go out of hand, the Hooda government dealt with the issue firmly by persuading the agitationists that law was taking its own course in the Mirchpur case and the state government could not do much in this regard,” the aide said.

Hooda assigned PWD minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and former union minister Jai Parkash to talk with the agitationists as they belong to Jind area.

“After talks with the leaders, the 11-member committee constituted of representatives of various khaps (caste panchayats) announced withdrawal of support to the agitation and resigned once their agreement was not honoured. After their resignation, the agitation became leaderless.”

“Many anti-social and politically motivated elements tried to grab this opportunity. The chief minister sent strong signals to either solve the issue through peaceful negotiation or face the consequences. The families of the accused in the Mirchpur incident and others formed a 41-member committee to resolve the issue and met Chief Minister Hooda at Kaithal. After the four-hour marathon meeting, the agitating committee agreed to work for harmony and withdrew the agitation,” the aide added.