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Haryana invites Jats for talks, quota Bill may be passed this session

Haryana invites Jats for talks, quota Bill may be passed this session
Haryana braced for a renewed quota agitation on Thursday, even as the government made a last ditch attempt to avert it by inviting Jat leaders for talks on Friday, with a promise of getting a Bill on reservation passed during the ongoing Budget session that ends on March 31.

The Jats, who had issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the government to address their demands by Thursday, said they would take a decision on the future course of action after a meeting with Haryana Chief Secretary and Director General of Police on Friday afternoon.

Bracing for the stir, the state government has deployed paramilitary forces and police in sensitive districts and they carried out Flag Marches in various places to instill confidence among people in the state, which witnessed large-scale violence during the first phase of the agitation last month that left 30 dead and caused extensive loss.

To defuse the situation, the state government invited the Jat leaders for talks.

“We have been invited by the government for talks tomorrow at Chandigarh,” All India Jat Aarakshan Sanghursh Samiti President Yashpal Malik said. “Our leaders will be meeting Haryana Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) tomorrow afternoon as per the government invitation,” he added.

Malik said: “Till then, we will not resume our agitation,” adding that “after meeting the top officials of Haryana, the next course of action will be taken”.

In the evening, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the Jat Reservation Bill may be brought during the ongoing Assembly session “any day.” In a brief statement, he said: “The Jat Reservation Bill is being drafted after consideration of every aspect and discussion with all stakeholders. This Bill may be introduced in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha any day during the ongoing Budget Session.”

State Finance Minister Abhimanya had earlier said: “We are sure that during this session, this Bill will be passed.”

He said it is taking time to draft the Bill as the government wants to make it sure that the new law does not get entangled in a legal quagmire. “The Bill (to give reservation to Jats) is being drafted and we are making efforts to bring and pass such a Bill in the Assembly, which is in the interest of Haryana’s people and it does not get entangled in legal quagmire... This is why it is taking time (for introducing Bill in assembly),” he said.

He asked Jat organisations to give their suggestions to draft the Bill for their benefit instead of giving an ultimatum on resuming the agitation. “Instead of giving an ultimatum, Jat leaders should give their suggestions for drafting a Bill, which will be in the interest of Haryana’s people. It (ultimatum) will not help the state,” Abhimanyu said. 

Various Jat organisations had on Monday threatened to resume their quota agitation, if the government failed to meet their demand by Thursday.

Malik demanded that state government must bring a Bill in the ongoing Assembly session to ensure reservation for Jats. Malik said that the Samiti will organise meetings on March 19 and 20 throughout the state and after that, meeting of units in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi will be held at Nangloi in the national Capital on March 21 to discuss about their demands.

Meanwhile, the police claimed to have made adequate security arrangements to tackle the situation. “We have adequate force and are deploying it accordingly,” said Sanjay Kumar, IGP of Rohtak Range, a region that was the worst-affected during last month’s agitation.

“We have already got the paramilitary force. The police are on alert and we are making all arrangements (to maintain law and order),” he said. He said additional police forces had also been arranged from within the state for deployment in the sensitive areas in and around Rohtak. Asked about the situation in Rohtak, Jhajjar and some other areas worst-hit by unrest, the IG said: “At, present the situation is normal.” 

The Centre, too, has sent 3,000 paramilitary forces to Haryana to ensure peace and deployed another 300 personnel to guard the Munak canal which supplies water to Delhi. “All arrangements have been made for Haryana and forces have been sent,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

Additional paramilitary forces were deployed in all sensitive places, some spots on highways and for Munak canal, the official said. 
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