Haryana - one of India's most prosperous states - is paying a heavy price for the ongoing agitation by protesters from the Jat community, who are demanding their inclusion in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. The week-long protests have already caused a massive loss to human life and property. According to latest reports, 19 people have died and more than 170 have been injured. Trade and industry body Assocham has pegged the total loss at Rs 20,000 crore!
Even as political leaders are busy trading charges, prominent figures from the Jat community such as boxer Vijender Singh, cricketer Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda have used social media to appeal for calm.
But, a look at the grim pictures of the violence and one would think the entire community is out there on the streets. However, this is far from truth. Not All Jats want inclusion in OBC category and reservation.
Scoopwhoop spoke to some from the community, and this is what they told us:
Vishal Deshwal, a management professional working for a private firm in Delhi, called the whole movement behind the OBC reservation futile and not necessary. And he has a point to make: "I don't understand why are people getting mad over reservation. Jats already come under OBC quota in the Centre. If they come under the same 27 percent quota in Haryana, it won't make much of a difference, considering how there are many other communities in it. The only benefit they will get, is of age relaxation."
He added that it is extremely foolish that people are indulging in all sorts of arson and violence for a worthless cause.
Vidhi Dhankhar, a mass communication student in Delhi, is angry that the violence is giving the whole community a bad name. "It is extremely deplorable that Jats who are known across the country for their remarkable contribution in the field of defense and sports, are clashing with security personnel and damaging public property," she said, adding that she felt the entire movement is highly political with vested interests.
But of course, some agree with the demands if not the means to achieve it. Why? Simply because they were promised it long ago. Karampal Gill, sub-editor with a Rohtak-based newspaper named Haribhoomi, said the demand for reservation was very much justified. "Jats were earlier included in the OBC category in Haryana along with Ahirs, Gujjars and Sainis as per the Mandal Commission in the early 1990's. However, the Bhajan Lal government later removed them from the list. Since then, their re-inclusion into the list has been an important issue among Jats, and has been perfectly exploited by all political parties.
But aren't Jats wealthy and prosperous already? "Contrary to the popular perception, not all Jats are. The rich ones are very less in numbers compared to their huge population in the state, thus significantly reducing the average income and wealth."
Criticising the BJP that rules the state as well as Centre for its poor handling of the situation, Gill said if only the government had acted in time, the losses could have been avoided. He rued how the general public was the worst-hit. He added, "The agitation has created a rift between the Jats and the non-Jats."
Prem Pal Mallik, a retired warrant officer from the Indian Air Force, said the government should either give Jats a reservation or scrap the existing reservations completely. "Successive governments, irrespective of their political affiliations, promise reservations to Jats during electoral campaigns. Sadly, it never gets implemented. If Gujjars and Ahirs, who are much more prosperous than Jats, get reservation under the OBC category, why not Jats? Either include Jats or scrap caste-based reservations altogether," he said.
(Feature image source: PTI)