reservation row

In photos: Not just caste, there is a class dimension to the violence in Haryana

Village youth came to the cities and targetted symbols of wealth.

Haryana is recovering from the unprecedented violence that lasted ten days and left 20 people dead and 200 injured. What began as an agitation by Jats for reservations in public jobs soon took the shape of clashes between communities.

In Jhajjar town, the agitators targeted shops owned by Sainis and Punjabis while sparing those owned by Jats. The next day, in retaliatory attacks, the Chhotu Ram Dharamshala, a Jat resthouse, was set on fire in Jhajjar. Hours later, a mob descended on Chhavni Colony, predominantly home to Sainis, and two men of the community were killed.

In Rohtak city, which has thrice the population of Jhajjar town, the prime target of the mob was Model Town market, which holds several branded showrooms. In this market too, shops and small restaurants belonging to Sainis and Punjabis were singled out. But the larger target appeared to be branded showrooms and malls. The agitators carrying axes, rods, petrol bombs — also called a poor man's grenade — broke into showrooms and eateries, including a McDonalds outlet, ransacking them and setting them on fire.

In both places, urban youth were part of the mobs, but the large majority of attackers were young men from nearby villages who rode to the cities on motorcycles and tractor trolleys.

While the agitation was along caste lines, in the destruction, a class dimension is apparent too.

In Rohtak, five expensive private schools, or “international schools” as they are called in the area, were targeted on the outskirts of the city. The glass facade of the school buildings was broken, a portion of the buildings was set on fire, as were school buses. There was no loss of life, fortunately, as the buildings were empty and the students were away.

On the state highway from Rohtak to Sonipat, and on the national highway from Sonipat to Delhi, several glass highrises were targeted irrespective of their ownership. A little outside Rohtak, the agitators set fire to more than 200 cars in a Chervolet showroom, and broke the gate of a religious convention center across the road.

In Murthal, they burnt down Jurassic Park, a massive amusement park, which charges a one-time entry ticket of Rs 800. Farmers in the nearby Kurad village noted that was the amount they spent on their weekly food supplies.

Haryana has lived through its worst inter-community riot in recent history. It is also witnessing a violent fallout of the deep economic crisis in its villages.

Kisna Devi Chauhan's house at the entrance to Chhavni Colony, a Saini locality, was severely damaged in the protests.
Kisna Devi Chauhan's house at the entrance to Chhavni Colony, a Saini locality, was severely damaged in the protests.
Narender Rajyan, the Jat caretaker of Chhotu Ram Dharamshala, jumped a 10-feet wall to save himself from a mob attack.
Narender Rajyan, the Jat caretaker of Chhotu Ram Dharamshala, jumped a 10-feet wall to save himself from a mob attack.
Shops and establishments run by Sainis were targeted in Jhajjar.
Shops and establishments run by Sainis were targeted in Jhajjar.
Shops in the bus stand market in Jhajjar were selectively targeted, with attacks limited to shops belonging to Sainis and Punjabis.
Shops in the bus stand market in Jhajjar were selectively targeted, with attacks limited to shops belonging to Sainis and Punjabis.
Visitors from a village gather outside the burnt State Bank of Patiala building in Jhajjar.
Visitors from a village gather outside the burnt State Bank of Patiala building in Jhajjar.
A store selling ammunition and guns was ransacked and burnt in Rohtak.
A store selling ammunition and guns was ransacked and burnt in Rohtak.
The attackers from villages burnt several Rohtak malls.
The attackers from villages burnt several Rohtak malls.
Curfew has been lifted but there is a heavy presence of paramilitary and police in Rohtak, the center of the agitation.
Curfew has been lifted but there is a heavy presence of paramilitary and police in Rohtak, the center of the agitation.
A private hospital and diagnostics center was set on fire in Model Town market in Rohtak. Three patients escaped from the back.
A private hospital and diagnostics center was set on fire in Model Town market in Rohtak. Three patients escaped from the back.
Indus Public School on the outskirts of Rohtak was among the five private schools that the mob set on fire.
Indus Public School on the outskirts of Rohtak was among the five private schools that the mob set on fire.
More than 200 cars were gutted in the Chervolet showroom on Rohtak-Sonipat road.
More than 200 cars were gutted in the Chervolet showroom on Rohtak-Sonipat road.
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