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Hopeful Jat Protests Will End Soon: Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar

CHANDIGARH: As the ongoing Jat stir entered its 11th day on Wednesday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar expressed hope that the protests would be over soon, even as the main faction spearheading the agitation softened its stand and said it was willing to hold talks with the government.

Mr Khattar also mentioned that besides the committee comprising senior bureaucrats, constituted by his government to engage in talks with Jats, they (the chief minister or any other minister) too can take part in talks with the agitators.

Asked if he was hopeful that the ongoing stir would end in another three days, Mr Khattar replied, “I am hopeful”.

In another development, the Yashpal Malik group spearheading the stir said it was willing to hold talks with the government-constituted committee, though they put the condition that these should be held at Rohtak or a place nearby where the protesters were holding sit-ins. The Jat body has said though they were willing to hold talks but these should not be held in Chandigarh or Delhi.

“The committee should hold talks with us in Rohtak or at some place within 40-50 km radius of Rohtak. We will not go to Delhi or Chandigarh,” Mr Malik said.

Mr Khattar said that the Haryana government yesterday formed a five-member committee, headed by Chief Secretary D S Dhesi, to consider the demands and resolve the problems of those agitating for reservation among other issues in the state.

Asked why the committee only had bureaucrats and no senior minister was coming forward for talks with Jats, Mr Khattar said, “It is not like that. Many a times, they (bureaucrats) are part of such talks. After they meet, we too will not hesitate to meet them (the protesters)”.

He added that his government was in favour of resolving people’s problems “as per the provisions of the Constitution”.

A senior official who is part of the committee said that who all will be invited for talks from the Jat protesters’ side and what their demands are, these were some things which the committee was going into at the moment.

Replying to a query, Mr Khattar, without naming anyone, hit out at those who were “trying to politicise the fresh round of the Jat protests”.

“The political atmosphere right now is heated up. That is why all of this is going on. Political parties should not take part in this (the Jat stir) the way they are doing it,” he said.

The main opposition party in Haryana, the INLD, has openly come out in support of the agitating Jats this time and asked the government to meet their demands.

Senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala has thrown his weight behind the protesters and has even addressed their gatherings.

Mr Chautala, on Wednesday, again demanded that the demands of Jats should be met immediately and further said that his party will raise the issue during the forthcoming budget session of the State Assembly.

PTI