Since recently two issues-SYL canal and quota for Jats in government jobs and academic institutions-have got very close to the hearts of people and politicians of Haryana. Unfortunately, both the issues are sub-judice and nobody knows when the final verdict comes that would be in their favour. SYL canal needs water which will have to flow through Punjab, which is determined not to spare even a drop of river water to Haryana. Since the Supreme Court is seized of the matter, one hopes that something will come out which is acceptable to the leaders and people of Punjab and Haryana. The job quota issue is also under the scrutiny of Punjab and Haryana High Court, while the Supreme Court has already rejected the Centre’s decision to incorporate Jats of Haryana in the Central list of OBCs. There is nothing to suggest that the governments are not serious about both the issues, but the way political leaders are seen instigating the people to come on to the streets to press for their demands is really worrisome. Since the matters are sub-judice, protest if any has to be peaceful and symbolic. There are few or no precedents at all where the judiciary may have surrendered to people’s whims and fancies. Maintaining law and order situation is a responsibility. It is one of the principal Constitutional obligations of an elected government. This, however, does not mean that leaders of other political parties will create the problems for the party in power. It is agonising to see the increasing absence of dialogue among political parties even over serious issues like SYL and job quota.
Since Jats have begun their agitation in state on quota issue once again, the entire Haryana has been put on maximum alert, something which was not done in February last year, which saw killing of 30 youths and huge damage to public and private properties. There was widespread destruction of property. This time, the government does not want to repeat the mistake of previous years and are taking precautionary measures to keep the trouble makers under check at any cost. Section 144 has been imposed in sensitive districts, including Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, and at other places in the state. “We are fully geared up to deal with the situation. Although leaders of various agitating organisations have promised to hold dharnas in a peaceful manner, yet the administration is fully geared up to maintain law and order,” Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Ram Niwas. Last year enough time had been wasted in taking preventive measures like banning assembly of five or more people in about 500 meters from national and state highways, and railway stations. Paramilitary forces are out in sensitive areas while heavy police force too has been deployed to maintain strict vigil. In view of agitation plans, the government has sent a requisition for 55 companies or about 5,500 personnel of Central paramilitary forces and has also issued call out notice to depute 7,000 Home Guards in state. Some companies of paramilitary forces have already reached Haryana. Rohtak and some of its neighbouring districts, including Sonipat and Jhajjar, had been the worst-hit by the violence which broke out during last year’s Jat stir. It had also affected Delhi as the protesters cut water supply to the national capital and caused massive damage to public property in Haryana.
Learning like anything from the past mistakes, government has deputed Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel at Munak canal, which was damaged by the protesters during last year’s agitation for reservation. Patrolling by paramilitary and police personnel have been increased in sensitive and extra-sensitive areas. The central forces have also been conducting flag marches in some sensitive areas. All Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police have been directed to ensure that highways and railway tracks are not obstructed and properties are not damaged. The call for a fresh stir has been given by some Jat outfits, especially those owing allegiance to the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) headed by Yashpal Malik. A mahapanchayat of some Khaps or caste councils was held in Rohtak recently in which they reiterated their call for holding agitation in a peaceful manner from and termed those opposing the stir as ‘government agents.’ Peaceful agitation in democracy is a brilliant idea, which government must take seriously. Since peace loving people are not taken seriously by the powers-that-be, they resort to violence to get themselves heard, an unfortunate situation indeed. Khap leaders have maintained that the release of arrested Jat youths, withdrawal of cases registered during last year’s agitation and grant of government jobs to the kin of youths killed during that stir are their immediate demands.
Last week saw some interesting decisions taken by state government. To encourage farmers to adopt modern techniques of agriculture, the government will organise a 3-day national-level AgriLeadership Summit-2017 at Surajkund in Faridabad from March 17 to 19, 2017. Theme of summit is celebration of Swarna Jayanti and promoting Haryana as peri-urban destination and focus on agri-business and marketing leadership. Water starved farmers in Haryana need better agricultural guidance on crop diversification as well as water harvesting, which is not happening currently. Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu has said that issue to hike water tariff was still under the consideration of the state government. Good move indeed for state, which has created a kind of record of presenting one after another taxless Budget, but does not mind spending tax payers’ money generously on a slew of welfare schemes. The government is also preparing a comprehensive InfoSec policy for which Information Security management Office (ISMO) has already been set up. One hopes initiative is not finally outsourced to private player and is managed by the state-owned companies.