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Jat stir: Ten killed, 150 injured

Violence exploded in Rohtak as Jat protesters demanding reservation in jobs and education. Also set fire to a minister's home, damaged property and burnt police vehicles. Mobs blocked highways and rail tracks. EXPRESS PHOTO BY GAJENDRA YADAV 19 02 2016.
Violence exploded in Rohtak as Jat protesters demanding reservation in jobs and education. Also set fire to a minister's home, damaged property and burnt police vehicles. Mobs blocked highways and rail tracks. EXPRESS PHOTO BY GAJENDRA YADAV 19 02 2016.

Rohtak: Ten persons have been killed and about 150 injured during the ongoing Jat stir, Haryana DGP Yashpal Singhal said today even as he underlined that his priority was to restore water supply to Delhi and clear road and rail blockades.

“According to the information we have so far, in entire state 10 people have been killed and about 150 injured,” he said.

According to police sources, four persons injured yesterday in firing in Jhajjar succumbed to injuries last night, taking the death toll to 10.

The 10 killed belonged to Jhajjar, Rohtak and Kaithal districts.

The DGP said his top priority was to restore disrupted water supply to Delhi from Haryana which has got affected due to the Jat stir.

Disruption in water supply to Delhi from Haryana’s Munak canal due to the Jat agitation has severely affected water supply to the national capital.

“Our first priority is to restore Delhi’s water supply, from Akbarpur Barota point (in Sonipat). Police, para forces and technical team of Haryana’s Irrigation department has reached there and we are trying to restore it immediately so that Delhi residents are not inconvenienced,” the DGP, who addressed a press conference along with Home Secretary P K Das, said.

Singhal said that so far close to 50 people have been rounded up for indulging in violence and arson and action is being taken against them as per law.

“We came up with district-wise plan of action, which we implemented and because of which we are seeing positive results,” he said, adding security forces had also launched “night dominance” because of which “positive results” had started coming out.

Asked if protesters had blocked many new points between Kaithal and Ambala, besides blocking the crucial Shimla highway in Panchkula district, he said, “We are verifying these. We will initiate appropriate action in this regard”.

When asked if the present Jat stir was a law and order problem or a political problem, the DGP said, “This is an emotional issue, reservation is an emotional issue therefore many people are involved. Expectations of people from a particular community is that they should get reservation.

“Now, as this issue has been going on, law and order problem has also cropped up and we are committed to restore order,” he said.

Asked why Army was not given a free hand to bring the situation under control, he said, “Army is deployed in aid of civil administration. There is no such provision in law to give the Army a free hand. They have to take orders from the magistrates.”

To a question as to why police was going soft on protesters, the Home Secretary Das said, “The issue is emotive outside, but we have to keep calm. Definitely, it is a matter of great regret that such a situation happened in our state. First priority is to tackle the issue at political and administrative level and lastly police action is taken.”

He admitted that “it is possible that in a particular instance police may have delayed taking action”.

However, he said, “First of all, Army is never given a free hand nor does the Army seek free hand. It is the civil administration which assesses the situation and decides army’s role accordingly.”

On reports that some officers in civil and police administration are supporting the agitators, Das said, “I want to say this kind of apprehension was kept before us.

Strict message has been given in districts that no officer or any lower rank official, if they leave the field, or if they do not comply with the orders which have been given, then strict action will be taken. This message has gone out very clearly”.

“Yesterday, police force was out in full strength and whatever orders have been given, they were complied with,” Das said.

Asked if Haryana was drifting towards caste violence, Das said, “Today, it is not possible to say anything on this. However, petty incidents have taken place. I am hopeful when we are in full control of the present situation, everyone will think over it and come to know that these (indulging in violence) are not good things.”

To a question that some women and children have been stranded during the stir and were without food, Das said, “We have reviewed it and we are trying to evacuate these people. Already an action plan has been formulated.”

The DGP said that peace is prevailing in Rohtak City, Sonipat, Bhiwani City, Jhajjar, Jind City, Panipat and Kaithal.
He also said that Haryana Police held a video-conference with the Union Cabinet Secretary, Director IB, Army Chief, and other officials.

Singhal said the main deployment of Army was in Rohtak and Jhajjar, both worst-affected districts in the ongoing Jat stir.

“Government of India has helped us in giving paramilitary forces and Army. So far, we have been given 49 companies of para-forces and 39 have reached the State, out of which 24 have been deployed. The rest are being airlifted and are in the process of being deployed,” he said.

He said police wants to appeal to the people of Haryana to maintain peace and law and order, clear roads and rail blockades.

Asked about action taking against those who indulge in violence, the DGP said, “We have booked 191. We are identifying those involved in incidents of violence and arson, we are also identifying their conspirators and taking action.”

Facing a volley of questions over alleged inept handling by police, the DGP rubbished the view that there was any “lack of coordination” between police, army and the paramilitary forces.

“The truth is that there is perfect coordination. Today also, we talked to the Army chief.Army, police, paramilitary and Magistrates are having good coordination, there is no problem anywhere,” he said.

On reports that some police officers were involved in violent incidents, the DGP said, “There is no point of making such allegation unless you give us specific instance”.

When asked why Army has not been given a free hand, he replied, “I want to say that whoever is protesting they are our own people. However, nobody is nobody is permitted to indulge in loot and arson.”

He also said that “since yesterday, when Army and paramilitary forces have been in position, there has been decline in incidents of violence”.

However, when it was pointed out that fresh incidents of violence have been reported that include new blockades coming up at few places, he replied, “I want to state that between last evening and today, there is improvement in the situation”.

“We have come up with a line of action to open national highways. Our top priority is to restore water to Delhi. Then after assessing the situation, we will also open the highways, both national and state highways.

“Our other priority was to secure cities so that violence does not escalate. We launched night dominance and its results are there. If situation is not improving, then violence would have broken out in all towns,” he said in reply to a question.

Singhal said they are keeping a close vigil on the situation and taking steps to maintain law and order.

“We have arrested many people and carried out a lathicharge also, wherever the need was felt,” he said.

Singhal said that many rumours were circulating with regards to incidents of violence, but when these are verified many are found to be false. “I want to say that kindly do not pay heed to rumour mongering,” he said.

PTI

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