Violence spreads in Jat quota stir, 5 more dead
HARYANA ON THE BOIL Army uses copter to break ‘siege’; railway stations burnt
ROHTAK: Violence raged across Haryana for the 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.
Reports of violence came in from almost every part of the state, especially Rohtak where, witnesses said, about 8,000-10,000 Jats had virtually “captured” the town. Protesters went on the rampage, setting fire to state buses and a couple of government offices and looting some 500 shops.
Stick-and-gun wielding mobs damaged railway tracks and started fires at three railway sta- tions leading 600 trains to be cancelled since Friday, said Indian Railways spokesman Neeraj Sharma. A private college and an ayurvedic dispensary were also torched. In Jhajjar, angry protesters torched two banks and a petrol pump, defying the security clamp down.
Life was hit in most parts of the state with shops, offices and schools closed. Fuel pumps in many places went dry as trans- port through the state virtually broke down. Mobile internet services remained suspended in many districts for a second day. The Delhi-Lahore bus service was also stopped.
Thousands of protesters, including women, tried to stop an army flag march in Rohtak town where, police said, Jats from neighbouring villages were arriving in large numbers.
Top ministers and senior secu- rity officials, including national security advisor Ajit Doval and army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, met on Saturday to discuss the state’s violent lockdown.
“There are reports that some extreme violence has taken place in Rohtak,” said a senior government official in New Delhi requesting anonymity and without elaborating.
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