The Jat agitation which culminated into violent riots across Haryana in a matter of days led to a tremendous loss of life and property, which included a $5 billion loss of business and hundreds of trains being cancelled, as the army had to be called in to take control of the situation.
But there were also tales of exceptional courage that came as a ray of hope in the mayhem. Here are five stories that restored faith in the human spirit, at a time when Haryana was in flames.
1. Hawa Singh Yadav from Jhajjar.
As Rohtak along with several districts in the state were taken hostage by mobs rampaging through businesses and burning public property, a 52-year-old bank guard in Jhajjar named Hawa Singh Yadav held fort and kept a mob at bay.
The mob armed with crude bombs stormed the State Bank of Patiala in Jhajjar on February 21 and tried to break into the strong room. A former soldier, Yadav fired thrice at hundreds of rioters, and challenged them saying he had 25 bullets, Business Standard reported.
The rioters hurled crude bombs at the bank, which caused a gas cylinder to explode and triggered a fire, but the rioters soon fled after Hawa Singh refused to give in. He finally called his family before falling unconcious after his calls to police and fire fighters proved in vain, and was later taken to a hospital by his family, India TV News reported.
2. Khalsa Aid group.
As the state was paralysed after curfew being imposed in major disctrict of the state and highways were blocked by rioters, there were several who were stranded on the highway, and this is when the Khalsa Aid group, known for helping people from Nepal to Chennai, came to the rescue.
3. The army saving a couple’s special day.
In the middle of riots, the army which was brought in to stabilise the situation, helped a family celebrate by facilitating a union of two hearts.
23-year-old Neha Makkad’s family had been planning her wedding for months, but the family was trapped in their house in Rohtak’s worst hit area. When the police failed to help, soldiers from the 3/5 Gorkha Regiment came forward to help. They not only escorted the family to a Gurdwara, and stood guard as Neha tied the knot with the groom Gaurav.
4. Holding fort for guests.
On February 22, as people on highways in the state were facing the wrath of mobs, the manager at the Haveli in Murthal asked people stopping over at the eatery to stay inside, saving them from the rampage outside, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) reported.
As 500 to 700 people with sticks and guns set fire to vehicles, the manager Naveen Singh closed the main gate with restaurant furniture to ensure security of the people inside.
He kept in touch with the SHO of the area for updates and provided bedding and quilts along with food to guests.
5. The Jat brothers who went beyond hate.
Even though the quota agitation and ensuing riots were spearheaded by the Jat community, two brothers from the same community helped out people stranded on NH1, The Tribune reported.
Ravinder and Bhupinder Lather of the Neelkanth Star Dhaba on GT road provided free food and lodging to those trapped on the highway, as mobs held sway over the region. By the time the violence had ended, hundreds of commuters had availed of free services from the good Samaritans.