I am Haryanvi Jat and I watched politicians burn my hometown Jhajjar

The common man suffered while the invincible noble men shared the last laugh.

 |  5-minute read |   16-03-2016
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I was stopped on my way to my hometown Jhajjar. I saw around 200 people blocking the road. I knew about the protest over reservations, but little did I know how things would unfold in the coming days. A group of six 19-year-olds asked my friend and I: "Where are you going?"

I said – "Jhajjar". Before I could blink, they said, "You can’t. Go back."

Meanwhile, they asked us about our caste. When they hear "JAT!", they say – "Give them the rods. Sit. Protest."

It seemed funny at that moment and made us chuckle. I called my dad to know more about the situation. "Things are heating up here. Protesters have burnt a minister’s house in Rohtak. You shouldn’t have come in the first place. Stay wherever you are. I’ll call someone to pick you guys up."

As I reach home, which is a story in itself, I am flooded with news about the protests. A number of agitations had happened in the past, but this was entirely different. The magnitude of the situation was shifting gears every moment.

Next day, at around 9.20am, I woke up to the news of protesters destroying the office of OP Dhankhar, a Cabinet minister. The office is merely 60m away from my house. The next stop for the protesters was BDO’s office. After that, the mob entered the city’s stadium and the police tried to combat them - this left two people dead and nearly a dozen injured.

The news spread to the nearby villages and resulted in masses joining the protest. Liquor shops were looted, buses set on fire and shops burnt. The BSF was called for the rescue and forced to leave. It was too much even for their stature. What the Jat community did to the shops of middle class Non-Jats is disgraceful. I condemn it more than anyone. There were people who had worked for years to just own a shop and saw them burnt down in front of their eyes. It couldn’t get any worse. When the police station was set ablaze, I could see the flames from the terrace of my house. It made me numb. My tongue and throat remained torpid for some time. I will never forget that day. It changed me as a person.

As rest of India was in its finest sleep, this time I woke up to the news of Sh Chhotu Ram Dharamshala (Jat Dharamshala) being set on fire by a group of Non-Jat people in retaliation. They demolished his statue and took the severed head with them. Another sad incident which has not been mentioned in a single newspaper/news channel is the demolition of the statue of Lt Ravinder Chikkara, a martyr of Kargil War. A common slogan was chanted – "35 biradari zindabad, Jat murdabad."

A set of incidents which were pre-planned and executed to perfection, it just proved good enough to agitate the Jat community. Two hours later, you saw the Jat community coming out in droves. It was a number one would have some difficulty counting. Forget about the young ones, 70-year-olds were on their feet with swords. Innocent Non-Jat families had to suffer for what 300 people did in the early hours. The mob set some houses on fire and bloodshed followed. Jats and Non-Jats were both getting killed ruthlessly one after another. The Gorkha regiment, somehow, managed to keep the Jat community in check.

It has been almost two weeks. This is just the right time to break my silence on the issue and share my feelings. First of all, let me clarify, I am a Haryanvi Jat and I don’t have an Audi in my garage and I didn’t type this out with an iPhone. People ask me – "You are a Jat. What do you need reservation for?"

It’s a ridiculous stereotype that people seem to peddle. We have been kept out long enough. We have suffered long enough. It was high time. Anumeha Yadav of Scroll perfectly summed it up in her article in Scroll.in: "The reservation protest wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment agitation. It was a cynical political build-up that spilled over into the streets."

I couldn’t agree more.

The opposition came out as the real winner in all the turmoil caused in the state. In an audio clip released during the agitation, Professor Virender Singh, a political aide of former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda of the Congress, can be seen telling a Jat leader to magnify and accentuate the protests.

The whole agitation gives India a peek into the politician’s bastion, which is built around the idea of invincibility - the common man suffers while the invincible noble men share the last laugh.

It took two weeks for people to get on with their lives after surviving the tumultuous week. One group that hasn’t been given much attention is the students’ who still have to appear for their board exams. At a time when they should study without stress, the agitation in the entire state made their case worse.

I had a conversation with a soldier of the Gorkha regiment and asked him about the difficulties they had to face while tackling the protesters.

He said – ”People are mad here. There’s no word as fear in their dictionaries. There’s a curfew in the whole city. 2-3 teenagers came on the roads. We told them to go back. They said, 'We want to see the curfew. What is it like? Where is it happening? We want to see.’"

I laughed more than I should have at that moment considering the gravity of the situation. It’s apt that I quote Mark Twain now – "All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse."

After such communal hullabaloo, should I part my ways with a Non-Jat friend? What message are they sending to the younger generation?

Amidst all the agitation, with politicians jumping at every opportunity, Captain Pawan Kumar Khatkar died as a martyr in an encounter in J&K only so we could fight among ourselves and no intruder from outside gets to enjoy the situation.

It’s a pity really.

The whole situation showed the incompetence of the government. It was a result of some shambolic decisions by the police combined with some nasty speeches and aimless protesters.

Political ploys were perfectly administered. An agitation that went way beyond the usual shenanigans in the state.

(A version of this post was published here.)

Writer

Gourav Pilania Gourav Pilania @pilania_gourav

Journalism & Mass Communication. Cricket & football geek. Liverpool FC. Blackcaps. Steven Gerrard is love.

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