Jat quota agitation: Protesters hold demonstration at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, threaten to stop supply of milk to the capital

Devyani Sultania
Jat quota agitation: Protests turn violent in Haryana's Fatehabad district; Roads to avoid in Delhi-NCR

Over 10,000 members of the Jat community are holding a demonstration at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Thursday to exert pressure on the Centre to extend reservation to the community in jobs and educational institutions.

A memorandum will also be submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee, while there are plans to gherao parliament as well, the date of which will be decided during the protest.

Citizens of Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and others are likely to face road jams and long snarls, with the police setting up posts at the borders of the capital and deploying maximum forces to frisk protesters.

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A senior police official told HT that protesters would be allowed to travel only in buses to check traffic congestion in Delhi and that the police would not allow any tractor or bullock cart to cross the city border. He added that over 4,000 police personnel have been deployed on the streets to handle the demonstrations. Paramilitary forces have also been asked to remain alert in Haryana.

The Jat community also threatened that Jat farmers would stop the supply of milk to Delhi if their demands were not met. Most of the city's milk vendors get their products from the neighbouring state of Haryana.

The protesters have also decided not to pay electricity and water bills and installments for loans that they owe to the government. The All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), which is leading the protests, has been engaged in dialogue with the BJP government in Haryana. However, Yashpal Malik, president of AIJASS, has said that "no further communication will be undertaken with the Haryana finance minister, BJP chief Subhash Barala, agriculture minister Omprakash Dhankar and Mahipal Dhanda."

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"Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is giving statements that he is ready for talks. But we have not received any invitation from the government or him. From today, we have decided to start a non-cooperation movement," Malik said in Hisar, while adding that Jats would "stop buying goods from shopkeepers who will not cooperate with us."

CM Khattar had said in the Haryana state assembly on Wednesday that the Jat community has been raising new demands and "changing goalposts" due to which the situation has become "even more complicated." He also denied reports that the BJP was reluctant to talk to agitators or accept their genuine demands.

"Earlier, the Jat agitators had raised only seven demands; now their demands have increased to 28. They are insisting they will not hold any dialogue on the earlier demands. They are changing goalposts and this attitude could make the situation even more complicated," Khattar said in response to an adjournment motion moved by some members.

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Khattar also warned that "any attempt to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Haryana will not be tolerated at any cost."

Other demands by the community include release of the protesters who were jailed during the violent agitation in 2016, withdrawal of all cases against the protesters, and government jobs to the next of kin of those killed or injured during the protests. At least 30 people lost their lives, while extensive damage was done to government and private property worth crores of rupees during arson and looting in February 2016. However, the protests were resumed on January 29 and so far have been peaceful.

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