Jat quota violence flares in Haryana, death toll rises to 8

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Clashes break out between non-Jats and protesters; Protests reach Delhi; 5 Haryana towns brought under curfew

Chandigarh—Violence raged across Haryana for a second day as Jat protesters demanding reservation in jobs and colleges burned government offices and railway stations, attacked shops and clashed with security forces, leaving five more people dead on Saturday.
Authorities used helicopters to bring in army and paramilitary soldiers after angry mobs dug up roads and used trucks and buses to seal off the districts of Bhiwani, Jhajjar and the epicentre of the protests, Rohtak.
The violence appeared to take on caste colours with protesters looting and damaging non-Jat property in Rohtak, where incidents of firing between the two communities were also reported. A Jat guesthouse was set on fire in Bhiwani. Curfews were clamped on Sonepat, Jind and Jhajjar towns.
Four deaths were reported from Jhajjar, where police opened fire after being attacked, while the fifth was reported from Kaithal, taking the toll in the week-long protests to eight.
Four persons were killed on Saturday while several others were injured as security personnel opened fire during violent protests for quota by Jat community in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts, taking the toll to five.
Clashes also broke out between non-Jats and protesters at a few places. “Two persons were brought dead in PGIMS here just an hour ago. One patient, who was critically injured, was operated upon but he died few minutes ago,” hospital authorities in Rohtak said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in Hansi sub-division, two persons were injured in firing during a clash broke out between agitating Jats and non-Jats at Jaggabara village here, police said on Saturday.
The members from Jat community were staging a dharna in Mayyar village when someone used objectionable language to which the non-Jats objected, leading to a clash between the two groups. An unidentified man allegedly opened fire which injured two persons identified as Ram NiwasSaini, a relative of former Haryana minister Attar Singh Saini, and Budh Ram Gurjar, they said.
Both were shifted to Hisar and admitted in a private hospital. The condition of both is stated to be out of danger, the police said. A group of people belonging to Saini community pelted stones at some shops near Jat Dharamshala Hansi and set a wine shop on fire, police added.
As violence spread to more areas in Haryana on Saturday over the Jat quota row, Army columns conducted flag marches at various places in the state and curfew was clamped in more towns to bring the situation under control. Curfew has now been imposed in five towns: Sonipat, Gohana, Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar. Curfew had already been clamped in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar towns.
Elsewhere, protesters put up blockades at National Highway 73, Saharanpur-Kurukshetra near Ladwa, Saharanpur-Ambala near village Kail, Yamunanagar-Poanta Sahib highway near Chhachhrauli and Bilaspur-Sadhura road.
Road transport was also hit because of the protest as buses remained off the road. Protesters also blocked the road near Gehli, Dalanwas, Bass, Dongr Jat, Nizampur, Madhogarh and Mohanpur. Delhi University students from the Jat community on Saturday protested on the North Campus, leading to traffic jams on the Mall Road. “Injustice is being done to us. This is our protest against the BJP Government,” said one of the protestors.
The agitating students sat on the roads demanding reservation for their community, even as police were deployed to control the situation. With the pro-reservation agitation of Jats getting intensified in Haryana, union finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju held a meeting at home minister Rajnath Singh’s residence. “Ten columns of paramilitary forces have reached while 23 more on way and some of these will be airlifted,” he said, adding that he had also spoken to the Union Home Secretary and apprised him about the ground situation. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar held a key meeting with his ministers and top officials to take stock of the situation.
Apart from Khattar and senior ministers, top bureaucrats including chief secretary and principal secretary (home), state DGP attended the meeting, official sources said.—Agencies