Mirchpur incident: Jats call off protest

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

JIND - Jats demanding a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into last year’s Mirchpur caste violence ended their 11-day-old agitation here Wednesday afternoon after meeting Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda late Tuesday, an official said.

It was not immediately clear whether the chief minister had accepted their demand.

Jat agitators removed the barricades they had used to block the national highways and important road links here. They also vacated the Delhi-Ferozepur rail line by 4 p.m. Wednesday, which they had occupied for the last 11 days.

In the meantime, Jind district has gradually started moving towards normalcy. Though road traffic has resumed, rail operations are yet to commence as officials are evaluating the tracks.

There is a possibility that the protestors could have damaged the rail tracks at some places. Therefore, railway officials are scrutinising the tracks before they allow trains to move. Road traffic, including state-owned buses, has started moving freely, a senior official of the district administration said here Wednesday.

Jat representatives ended their stir after meeting state Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at Kaithal town late Tuesday.

Two rounds of discussions between Jat representatives and the state government had failed to yield result, following which a 45-member committee was formed Monday.

“A 45-member committee of Jats has assured the chief minister that the ongoing agitation would be withdrawn,” the official spokesperson of Haryana government said.

President of the 45-member committee Bhag Singh Jalabh said: “Our meeting with the chief minister was held in a very cordial atmosphere and decision to withdraw the agitation was taken only after feeling satisfied.”

“We have full faith in the system of delivery of justice,” he added.

Jat community members, including scores of women, were sitting on protest in Jind for the last 11 days, intensifying their agitation Sunday.

They blocked all the highways and the Delhi-Ferozepur rail line near Jind railway station. Jind district was cut off from the rest of the state for the third consecutive day Tuesday.

Protesters also blocked different roads in Hisar, Bhiwani, Fatehabad and Rohtak districts.

The Jat mahapanchayat, a congregation of 42 khap panchayats, has demanded an SIT probe into the Mirchpur caste violence in which an elderly Dalit man and his daughter were killed.

The state government has agreed to refer the case to the CBI, but the protestors are adamant on their demand for an SIT probe.

Besides, the protesters have also sought shifting of the court trial from New Delhi to Hisar and the release of arrested Jat youths.

Mirchpur village in Hisar district hit the headlines last year when some people from the dominant upper caste Jat community set fire to a row of houses of Dalit (Balmiki) families April 21.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically-challenged daughter were killed in the fire and at least 18 houses were destroyed in the attack.

As many as 150 Dalit families were driven out of the village, about 300 km from Chandigarh, and their homes were torched.

The trial of the youths accused of the arson attack was shifted to New Delhi in December following the directions of the Supreme Court.

A total of 98 Jat youths were arrested in the case and are currently lodged in a jail in New Delhi.

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