Jat protesters demanding reservation in jobs and education persisted with violent protests across Haryana on Saturday after community leaders rejected Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s appeal to call off the stir.
Khattar had on Friday agreed to meet the Jats’ demands but representatives for the community said they would continue their agitation till a legislation is passed on the same.
Arson continued in several areas across the state, even as 33 army columns were deployed in nine districts, with maximum deployment in Rohtak.
Protesters set fire to a railway station in Budha Kheda, Jind, on Saturday morning. A mob in Rohtak district’s Meham area set a police station, a petrol pump and a government building on fire. There were also reports of attempts to set the block development and panchayat office ablaze in Jhajjar, apart from vandalising private property. An army column had to open fire at Jhajjar to disperse crowd as agitation got violent. Shops, malls, public transport and private property were also set ablaze on Saturday in other parts of the state.
“The police station has been set on fire by a group of about 2,000-2,500 people. They went on a rampage today and also set on fire a petrol pump, a government building and a banquet hall,” Rajender Singh, sub-inspector and SHO of Meham police station was quoted as saying.
The army had to use choppers to enter Rohtak in the morning because protesters had dug up roads at several entry points. Shoot at sight orders were issued in many places including Rohtak and Bhiwani while curfew was imposed in both these districts as well as Jhajjar.
As the chief minister ocne again called for calm, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday evening hosted a meeting at his Delhi residence on resolving the crisis. Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were among those present.