Indian army given free hand to deal with Haryana protesters

Security forces asked to clear roads, rail tracks

New Delhi/Chandigarh—Government on Sunday night asked security forces to clear all roads, railway tracks, canals and dams in Haryana where protesting Jats were squatting, disrupting normal life.
“The forces have been asked to clear all the places where the protesters were squatting affecting communication network and water supply,” a senior government official said.
The decision was taken after a series of meetings home minister Rajnath Singh had with senior Union ministers and top officials.
The decision to crack down came after protesters at several places insisted on continuing with the stir despite assurances from the BJP.
A late night announcement by Union home minister Rajnath Singh said that a committee headed by Union minister Venkaiah Naidu has been formed to look into the demand for reservation in central government jobs for Jats.
Even as Haryana burns in the wake of the ongoing Jat quota agitation, the panic-stricken residents of Rohtak district have decided to prepare themselves for the worst. Compounding their fears is the fact that even emergency helplines have gone dead.
“It’s scary. We hear that they are burning all the vehicles on the roads. As neither the police SOS number (100) nor the women’s helpline (1091) are working, we have little choice but to look out for ourselves,” said Rajesh Dutt, a resident of Sector-I who spent the previous night guarding his locality along with 20 co-residents.
The Jat agitation for OBC status in Haryana entered the eighth day on Sunday, even as the death toll rose to nine. Curfew was declared in several parts of the state, but incidents of violence continued to occur unabated.
With agitators targeting all the non-Jat communities in the state, including that of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, not many want to take the situation for granted. The worst-affected are Punjabi-dominated areas, where shops have been set ablaze and residents live in constant fear of home invasions.
Media reports quoted sources saying the defence ministry had given the army a free hand, for the first time, to take action against those involved in looting and rioting.—Agencies

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