Chandigarh: An attack on a religious procession in Nuh, close to the national capital, left six people dead and kept the region, including Haryana’s commerce and tech hub Gurugram, on tenterhooks for days this year. Internet services were restricted, schools closed and rumours abounded.
During the past year, Haryana’s BJP-Jannayak Janta Party government also faced a setback in the Punjab and Haryana High Court when it quashed the state law that allowed 75 per cent reservation in private sector jobs for local people.
The JJP, which is the junior partner in the alliance, had pushed for the quota. In any case, the two coalition partners remain reluctant to explicitly state whether they will fight the next election together.
Months before the Nuh violence, the state machinery faced flak over the death of two Muslim men from neighbouring Rajasthan whose bodies were found in a charred car in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.
Their relatives blamed cow vigilantes for the deaths, and the Haryana Police for not taking action in time a charge denied by the cops.
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)-led procession in Nuh was attacked in July, killing five people, including two home guards. Sporadic incidents of violence followed, including an attack on a mosque in neighbouring Gurugram in which a Muslim cleric was killed.
The high court took suo motu cognizance of a demolition drive in the area where the procession came under attack, and questioned if it was an exercise in “ethnic cleansing”.
Later Congress MLA Mamman Khan was arrested in four cases linked to the Nuh violence. His party accused the state government of launching a “political witch-hunt”.
The Nuh violence also drew attention to the sometimes uneasy relationship between Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Anil Vij, who holds the Home and Health portfolios in his ministry.
Vij denied having any intelligence input on build-up of tension in Nuh, and told reporters that the CM, whose portfolio includes the CID department, has “all the information”.
In October, Vij also expressed displeasure over “interference” in his health department by officials in the Chief Minister’s Office and stopped clearing files for several weeks.
Signs of differences between the ruling BJP and ally Jannayak Janta Party also emerged with leaders from both parties taking occasional swipes at each other.
The high court ruling against a job quota in the private sector for Haryanvis the law was subject to a salary ceiling — was a setback in particular for the JJP, which had made this a poll plank in 2019.
The high court declared the quota “unconstitutional”.
The sports powerhouse did the nation proud again. Haryana’s players won 30 of the country’s 107 medals at the Asian Games in China.
However, wrestlers from Haryana were part of the protest for weeks at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the then president of the Wrestling Federation of India, over alleged sexual exploitation of players. That controversy continues.
In Jind and Kaithal, there was outrage over allegations that several girl students were sexually harassed. The principals of two government schools were arrested.
Earlier in the year, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar took away the Sports portfolio from former India hockey captain Sandeep Singh, who was booked by Chandigarh Police in a sexual harassment case.
But the CM rejected the opposition demand to sack him from the cabinet itself.
Nearly 50 people died in floods and other rain-related incidents in July. In November, about 20 people were killed in Yamunanagar after drinking spurious liquor.
Haryana and AAP-governed Delhi quarrelled over an episode of floods in the national capital. The Arvind Kejriwal government blamed the situation on the release of excess water into Yamuna by Haryana. The state trashed the charge.
There was squabbling over stubble burning, which contributes every year to pollution in the national capital. The AAP in Delhi blamed Haryana, which pointed fingers at AAP-run Punjab.
Village sarpanchs protested against the new e-tender policy, which the state government claimed would bring more transparency when contracts are awarded for development projects worth over Rs 2 lakh.
But the village heads claim the ceiling reduces their say and gives more power to the bureaucrats.