For Jat chief minister, handling Jats becomes a problem

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Chandigarh : Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda may himself be a Jat but that has hardly brought good tidings. Leaders of the politically dominant community in the state are giving the administration a tough time as they seek reservation in government jobs.

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As if a three-week standoff between the Jats and the Hooda government in March last year was not enough, the community has resorted to an agitational path in the last few days again. The Jats are demanding that the community be included in the other backward class (OBC) quota and be provided reservation in government jobs.

While Hooda has been promising Jat leaders that their demands are being looked into and even set up a backward classes commission last year to look into the reservation demands of Jats and some other communities, the protesting Jats are hardly impressed.

“The Hooda government had made promises on the reservation issue last year also. We have waited enough in the last two years. The government is only indulging in delaying tactics. It is not serious about addressing the issue,” All-India Jat Aarakshan Sagharsh Samiti president Yashpal Malik said.

The Hooda government is facing agitation from Jat groups like the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarakshan Samiti and the All-India Jat Aarakshan Samiti.

Representatives of 61 khap panchayats have also served an ultimatum to the government to accept the reservation demand, failing which they would also join the agitation.

The fear of agitating Jats, who had led a violent agitation last year, is so pronounced for the Hooda government that the authorities are not taking any chances.

Even though Jat agitators have not blocked railway tracks, highways and roads this year, they are staging protests at a few places. Wary of protests, the authorities have stopped plying trains and public transport buses near the protest venues.

“We have not stopped anything so far during our protests. We are not causing any disruption. If the government is not plying trains and buses, it is their own decision,” Malik said.

The chief minister has in recent days met Jat community leaders more than twice but the deadlock has not been broken. His emissaries like minister Randeep Singh Surjewala have also failed to convince the Jat leadership.

Even though the Hooda government was able to convince one faction of Jat leaders led by Hawa Singh Sangwan to postpone the agitation till March 22, the faction led by Malik is going ahead with protests.

The Malik faction has accused Hooda of going back on promises made last year.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])