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Jat stir

Jat stir

Over the weekend, the Haryana government heightened security in the state after Jat protestors threatened to intensify their agitation for reservation. Reports indicate that protesters observed February 19 as "Balidan Divas" (day of sacrifice), in memory of those who lost their lives in agitation last year. In January, the All India Jat Mahasabha initiated a fresh round of agitation demanding 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs under the Other Backward Classes category. More than reservations, however, protesters this time are focusing on the release of those jailed last year and the withdrawal of cases registered against those who participated in last year's agitation. Besides the release of 58 protesters from prison, they are also demanding a job for every family that lost a member during the unrest.

For the uninitiated, the state witnessed violent protests for nearly a week in February, last year, during which 30 people died, and crores worth of property and business were destroyed. Rohtak, Sonipat and Jhajjar districts were among the worst affected.

Even Delhi felt the effects after protesters took their protest to Munak Canal, an important source of water for the National Capital. The matter of reservations, meanwhile, is once again before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. As argued in these columns earlier, the recent agitation by the Jat community is down to a combination of the reservation policy's failure to broaden the scope of social justice beyond caste, inadequate job creation under the current economic model in India, and a poor higher education system, which creates millions of poorly skilled graduates. The current OBC system will not solve this problem. Young Jats or Patels, who are seeking a slice of the 27 percent OBC quota in government jobs, are left in a confrontation with other communities in the OBC list. The Supreme Court had previously rejected the idea of reservations for Jats. The court said that the Jats are not socially and economically backwards, based on the findings of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

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