The state of Haryana is not even close to returning to normalcy after the recent massive violence and destruction during Jat reservation row, and the community has threatened yet another stir.

On Monday, the protesters announced a 72-hour deadline to the BJP-led state government for accepting their demands, failing which they would again block highways and railway tracks.

b’Army was called in to curb the riots / PTI’

What’s appalling is that these demands include not only reservation under OBC quota, but also the withdrawal of criminal cases registered against them last month. Which basically means the agitators want to conveniently get away with a mindless violence that ruined years of development and pushed an entire state back by decades.

Sample the scale of damage: According to initial estimates by trade body Assocham, the combined loss of business in the agitation across Haryana’s 21 districts is no less than a shocking Rs 20,000 crore!

More than 30 were killed, over 700 trains were cancelled, and the agitators even damaged canals that supplied water to Delhi.

There were shocking reports of mass rapes in Murthal, even though the allegations were never substantiated.

Amid all this, threats of another stir should wake the government from its slumber.

The Manohar Lal Khattar government has already made a blunder by giving in to the crowd rampaging through the streets in Haryana – when, during the protest, it promised a quota bill in the session starting today.

By opting for an easy way out of the mess, the government indulged in community appeasement, and set a dangerous precedent for similar movements across India.

But a jat agitation 2.0? The government must show it can’t be blackmailed like this. Having one’s way by violence, just cannot be tolerated.

The rioters must be punished. The charges against them cannot be dropped.

If not, we are heading for a situation like this: Want a quota? Just hit the streets, loot, burn, kill, and hold everyone to ransom, because not only the rioters will go scot-free, but also rewarded with reservations.