Chandigarh, Feb 22: Some places in Haryana remained tense on Monday, with Jats demanding job quotas indulging in fresh violence and triggering a backlash by other communities, leading to curfew. More security forces were rushed to maintain law and order.
The toll in the violence in the nine-day-old agitation by the Jat community mounted to 16. Over 200 people have been injured in the mindless frenzy that has ravaged the state bordering Delhi.
Fresh firing took place on Monday afternoon in Sonipat district as Jats blocked the Delhi-Ambala national highway (NH-1), hours after traffic on it was restored.
Police sources said the Jats fought pitched battles with soldiers by hurling stones and bricks near Ladsoli village, 55 km from New Delhi. The army fired at them, leaving a few injured.
Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma admitted that fresh violence had been reported. "We are hoping NH-1 traffic will be restored soon."
Sharma said talks were on with Jat leaders massed near the Munak canal, which the army has taken over, in Sonipat district. The canal supplies water to Delhi. He said water supply to Delhi was restored at 2.30 a.m.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal thanked the army for its intervention. "Thank u army, thank u centre for securing Munak canal," he tweeted. "We've completely run out of water."
The Munak canal was shut down after it was vandalised by some Jats.
Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra termed the water crisis in the national capital "unprecedented" and warned that the situation might worsen if the supply from Haryana was not immediately restored.
A high-powered panel headed by union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu met in New Delhi on Monday to discuss the Jat reservation issue, Agriculture Minister Sanjeev Balyan told the media.
The Haryana cabinet also met on Monday to review the situation in the state.
After the meeting, Health Minister Anil Vij reportedly threatened to resign after he got upset by a tweet by Agriculture Minister O.P. Dhankar that the government would give compensation of Rs.10 lakh and a government job to families of those killed in the violence.
Vij argued that those killed could be rioters and could not be compensated.
Rohtak and some other places remained tense due to fresh incidents of violence on Monday. Police sources said Jats continued to block roads and railway tracks at some places.
The NH-10 (Delhi-Hisar) was still blocked at Sampla town, 25 km from Rohtak town.
"Traffic on the Delhi-Chandigarh rail route has been restored. The Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Mathura highways have opened for traffic. Railway routes to other places are also being restored," a Haryana minister said.
Some of the violence hit areas in Haryana were meanwhile limping back to normalcy. Curfew in Rohtak town was relaxed for an hour. Curfew was lifted in Hisar and Hansi towns, officials said.
Thousands of people and vehicles were stranded on NH-1 in the past three days as the Jats laid siege to the highway in Sonipat and Panipat districts, cutting off road connectivity to Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.
The demonstrators uprooted rail tracks at various places, especially on the Delhi-Ambala section. Nearly 900 trains were cancelled in the region.
The protests somewhat abated after Haryana's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party announced on Sunday that Jats would get reservation in jobs.
In some places, however, Jat youths continued the blockades saying they won't budge. Jat leaders had earlier called for an end to the agitation.
Hundreds of shops, government and private buildings, including schools and other institutions, have been vandalized and set on fire in Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Kalanaur and other places.
A number of government and private buildings and vehicles were set on fire as mobs went on the rampage in over 10 districts. The government sought help from the army and paramilitary forces to calm the situation.
The Haryana government will bring a bill in next session of assembly to give reservation to Jats, said Sharma.