The Jat quota stir is back to haunt the people of Haryana, who have not yet forgotten the brazen display of hooliganism and mayhem in the name of quota in the state last year. It was marked by murders, loots and rapes, which were never a part of great cultural, social and historical ethos of Haryana as a state. One must hope that whatever happened last year was an aberration and will never be repeated in the annals of Haryana, a great Indian state. At the same time, one must remain an eternal optimist, hoping that the guilty of 2016 quota violence will be brought to book. This year’s quota agitation is seven-day old. It is likely to prolong since agitators are not ready to show patience and wait for the final verdict of Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has stayed the implementation of quota for Jats in government jobs and academic institutions. Even without quota, Jats dominate government jobs and academic institutions. It, however, does not mean that they do not have right to ask for quota clutch. If Patels in Gujarat too want quota and empowered Dalits are not ready to give up quota cushion, then Jats must fight for quota. A day is not far off when OBCs will also protest for doing with the provision of creamy layer, a barrier which is fast rendering quota for them irrelevant.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar seems to have become wiser after the shocks he got in February last year. In Kurukshetra on February 1, he rightly said that the issue of quota for Jats would be dealt with in a legal manner only and hoped that the stay on the bill granting them reservation will be vacated soon. He is politically correct. The state enacted a law in consultation with all stakeholders to give reservation to Jats. The government has tasked a senior advocate with pleading the case in the High Court. He also said that once the stay is vacated, the state government will request the Centre to include the Act in the 9th Schedule of Constitution. It is an interesting assurance which the Chief Minister is giving to the people of the state. Only recently Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu had opined during a press conference at his residence in Chandigarh that even if the quota Act is put in the 9th Schedule, judiciary can review the Act. In fact, 9th Schedule does not guarantee total immunity to the quota Act.
The Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act 2016, passed by the assembly on March 29 last year, provides 10 per cent quota in Class III and IV posts and educational institutions and six per cent quota in Class I and II posts to Jats, Jat Sikhs, Rors, Bishnois, Tyagis and Muslim Jats in Schedule-III. These days Yashpal Malik is spearheading the ongoing Jat quota stir in the state. He is not from Haryana, but his commitment to the cause of Jat quota seems to be a national mission. However, Khattar is right when he says: “Some leaders from other states were doing politics in Haryana and vitiating the peaceful atmosphere by misguiding people for their vested interests.” Malik, the national president of All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti, belongs to Uttar Pradesh. Needless to say, during the last year’s Jat quota stir, some of key negotiators were from western Uttar Pradesh and many in Haryana feel that their involvement had only compounded the matter. It is worth mentioning that out of 2,100 cases registered during the Jat agitation last year, about 1,350 have been withdrawn and hearing is on in the remaining cases.
So far, Jat quota stir has remained peaceful in the state. Dharnas are being held at different locations amid elaborate security arrangements. Paramilitary forces are out in sensitive areas in Haryana while heavy police force has been deployed to maintain strict vigil. The call for the fresh stir has been given by some Jat outfits, especially those owing allegiance to All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti headed by Malik, who has said that dharnas in Haryana would continue till the government accepted their demands. “If the government fails to consider the demands by February 11, the samiti would increase the number of dharnas in each district from February 12,” he threatened.
He has said Jats were willing to wait for reservation since the matter was sub judice, but they want all other demands to be accepted immediately. In democracy everyone has the right to demonstrate peacefully without impairing law and order. It is being stated that the state government has agreed to give jobs to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in agitation last year. Compensation to those affected by the Jat agitation last year has already been disbursed as per the survey report. Haryana’s main opposition party INLD has come out in open support of agitating Jats. Recently, Leader of Opposition and INLD’s senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala, along with senior leaders of his party, went to various dharna sites in Rohtak, Sonepat and Jind districts and announced his party’s support to the Jats. All said and done, peace loving people are keeping their fingers crossed, while wishing best for the state!