Vi­o­lence spreads in Jat quota stir, 5 more dead

HARYANA ON THE BOIL Army uses copter to break ‘siege’; rail­way sta­tions burnt

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Neeraj Mo­han and Dan­ish Raza let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

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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