By Jaideep Sarin
Rohtak, Feb 21 (IANS): The main market of Haryana's Rohtak town was a bustling place till last week. In just three days, it looks devastated. Shops and malls have been looted and set on fire. The area resembles a war zone as troops and security forces patrol the area.
Be it the markets in Rohtak, located just 75 km from national capital Delhi, or Jhajjar or Bhiwani, or buildings and roadways buses in the violence-hit areas of Haryana, everything looks like they are in a war zone.
"The losses of traders and businessmen could run into hundreds of crores due to this mindless violence. This is no way to seek reservation in a democratic set up. There is hardly any sign of Haryana Police in the last one week. The government has abandoned people to fend for themselves," Rohtak-based trader Rakesh Gupta told IANS.
Despite the army'd deployment in eight districts - Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Hisar, Jind, Kaithal, Sonipat and Panipat - and curfew imposed in Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Hisar, Jind and Hansi, unruly mobs have been on the rampage in several areas, especially in Rohtak and Jhajjar towns.
With hundreds of Jat youths taking control of the agitation and indulging in arson and looting, the focus of the Jat agitation, which was to demand reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, has led to mindless destruction of government and private property.
"In Rohtak town, despite the army, the mobs looted several shops and set them on fire. No one stopped the mobs. There is total anarchy. We are stuck in our houses for four days. Our food supplies are finishing fast," said Sarita Kumari, a housewife in Rohtak's Civil Lines area.
Hooligans, who have joined the ranks of Jat demonstrators, have run amok by setting government and private property on fire, burning buses and private vehicles, blocking roads and highways, disrupting trains and uprooting tracks and indulging in looting and arson.
Be it police stations at some places, isolated railway stations, state transport buses and private vehicles and even railway coaches - immovable and movable property have been torched and damaged at several places.
With people in affected areas accusing the Haryana Police of inaction in the past one week, the state government is on the backfoot.
"A large number of police officials and personnel are from the Jat community. Many are refusing to act against the Jats since it is an emotional matter for them. The police is divided on this matter," said a senior Haryana Police official told IANS in Chandigarh.
Haryana Home Secretary P.K. Dass said the police was being asked to control the situation.
"We have been conveyed the apprehension of Jat officials ot taking action. We have issued strict directions to all officials. If they refuse to do so, they will face action," Dass told the media on Sunday.
Demonstrators uprooted the Delhi-Ambala railway track at Rajlu Garhi in Panipat district, disrupting the crucial rail line which connects Delhi with north India.
The NH-1 was blocked in Sonipat district, 50 km from Delhi, stranding thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles on the busy highway.