The Jats are angry.
Violent protests by the rural caste have left 10 dead and 150 injured in Haryana, India where the government has sent 4,000 troops and 5,000 paramilitaries with shoot-on-sight orders.
The week-long riots reflect frustration with a lack of employment and university opportunities. “The Jats are demanding quotas for government jobs and university places for their caste, saying they are struggling to find opportunities despite India’s strong economic growth,” AFP writes. “India reserves places for lower castes in measures intended to bring victims of the country’s worst discrimination into the mainstream but the policy causes resentment among other communities, who say it freezes them out.”
The protests turned violent on Saturday when demonstrators set fire to residences and looted stores. “There were clashes during the night across the district,” an officer told AFP. “Over a dozen buildings were set on fire by protesters, with incidents of looting of shops and ATMs at two places.”
“Protesters have attacked the homes of regional ministers, torched railway stations and staged sit-ins on tracks, blocking hundreds of trains,” Reuters reported, earlier today. They also damaged pumping equipment at a water treatment plant causing New Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to call for water rations across the city and close schools on Monday.
“No water available now. Still no hope to get it,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Twitter.
“We are not in control. The situation is very tense as thousands of protesters are on roads encircling the main administrative area in the town,” Jhajjar police chief Rajiv Kumar told AFP.
The ten people killed over the past week were shot by police who are attempting to bring the situation under control. “We will keep going until the government bows to our pressure,” Rajendra Ahlavat, a 59-year-old farmer and protest leader told Retuers. There is no way we will take back our demands.”
The Jats comprise some 25% of Haryana’s population.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh is scrambling to table a state assemly bill to meet the Jats’ demands.
Lets hope he pushes it through quickly because it appears the Jats aren’t prepared to back down. “We are here to die,” the abovementioned Rajendra Ahlavat said on Saturday.
If the last five days are any indication, government troops are happy to oblige.
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