Jat leaders today began a fresh quota agitation in Haryana even as over 5,000 paramilitary personnel were deployed along with large contingents of the state police to maintain law and order.
Jat leaders in Jassia village of Rohtak district, the epicentre of violence during the February stir, began the agitation by performing a 'havan'.testing.. we are here....
Jats owing allegiance to All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), which gave the call for the protest, have pitched a tent along the Rohtak-Panipat highway just outside Jassia. AIJASS is holding dharnas in 15 of the state's 21 districts.
AIJASS Hisar president Rambhagat Malik said, "We are committed to holding dharnas in a peaceful manner." Certain other Jat leaders have also expressed a similar view.
A Jat leader in Jassia said in addition to their quota demand, they also want withdrawal of "false" police cases registered against community members during the previous stir, status of martyrs for those killed and jobs for their next of kin, besides compensation for the injured.
Central forces, along with the state police, have carried out flag marches in several sensitive towns, including Rohtak, Sonipat, Bhiwani, Hisar, Jind, Kaithal and Jhajjar.
Paramilitary forces and the state police are maintaining a close vigil on national highways and railway tracks, which the protesters had blocked for several days during the earlier agitation.
"Fifty-five companies of paramilitary personnel drawn from CRPF, RAF, ITBP and BSF have been deployed in sensitive districts," Haryana's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said. One company comprises nearly 100 personnel.
He said areas have already been specified for dharnas and anyone indulging in any activity violating the law will be dealt with strictly.
A special round-the-clock control room has been set up in Chandigarh to monitor the situation, he said.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, senior officials including the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the state DGP, are keeping a close watch on the situation, officials said.
Khattar had earlier said the Jat leaders had given him an assurance that they would hold peaceful dharnas, even as he has appealed to the community members to cooperate in maintenance of law and order.
Police and paramilitary forces have also been deployed to guard the Western Yamuna Canal in Sonipat district. Protesters had disrupted water supply to the national capital by damaging a channel of Munak Canal during the stir.
Haryana Police has cancelled leave of all personnel except in emergency cases till further orders.
"We are fully geared up to meet any kind of situation during the agitation," Haryana's Additional Director General Police (Law and Order), Mohamad Akil said.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC, banning gathering of five or more persons, have been imposed in many sensitive districts and paramilitary forces have been conducting flag marches from the past few days.
"Section 144 has been enforced in sensitive districts, including Jhajjar, Sonipat, Rohtak, Panipat, Hisar, Fatehabad, Jind and Kaithal. Section 144 has also been enforced upto a distance of one km on both sides of national highways and railway lines," Niwas said.
Police are keeping a close watch on anyone trying to spread rumours or inflammatory statements through the social media.
Sonipat District Magistrate K Makarand Pandurang has issued orders banning all internet services, including Edge, GPRS and bulk SMS sent via mobile, under Section 144 of CrPC from June 4. The ban would be effective till further orders, an official release said.
He said there were chances of these services being used to spread false information, rumours and messages for blocking roads, highways, railway tracks, damaging government property and disrupting essential services and supply of food.
"Social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Google Plus and mobile internet could be misused for this purpose," he said.
Pandurang said that all telecom service providers have been directed to strictly abide by these orders.
Meanwhile, Khap Panchayats and some Jat factions have opted out of the dharnas.
Prominent Jat leaders Hawa Singh Sangwan and Nafe Singh Nain have announced that they will not participate in the fresh protest.
Meanwhile, the Prakash Singh committee, which probed the violence during the Jat agitation, has termed as a "bona fide mistake" the inclusion of INLD MP Dushyant Chautala's name for allegedly adding "fuel to the fire" during the stir.
The former UP DGP, in a letter to the state government, has claimed that the Haryana DGP had checked the original audio-video and it had been found that such a statement as carried in the report was made by another INLD leader Digvijay Chautala and not Dushyant Chautala.
Thirty people were killed and property worth hundreds of crore was destroyed during the February quota agitation.