Mirchpur violence: Jats continue protest for fifth day

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

JIND - Jat community members continued their protest here for the fifth day Wednesday as several rounds of talks between their representatives and the district administration over demand for fresh CBI probe into Mirchpur caste violence failed to break the deadlock.

Hundreds of Jat protesters, including scores of women, have been blocking railway tracks near here since Saturday. They have been sitting on the railway track in Julani village near the Jind railway station, disrupting trains running on the New Delhi-Ferozepur line.

At their mahapanchayat - community conclave - Jats have demanded a fresh Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Mirchpur caste violence of last year in which two Dalits were killed. Besides, the protesters have also sought that the trial in the case be shifted from New Delhi to Hisar and the arrested Jat youths be released.

Though the state government has agreed to refer this case to the CBI, the agitating Jats Wednesday refused to budge until their other demands also are met.

We are not satisfied with the mere assurance of the state government. We want them to act promptly and to immediately shift this case back to Hisar. During the meeting, the government officials could not give satisfactory replies to our queries, said Suresh Koth, secretary of the Jat Mahapanchayat.

We would not move from here and will intensify our campaign in the coming days, he added.

The Jat Mahapanchayat - a mega conclave of community leaders - had issued an ultimatum to the state government to accept their demands before Jan 15.

Due to rail blockade, many trains were cancelled or diverted to longer routes during the past few days.

“We are forced to cancel some of the passenger trains and most of the long distance trains are running behind their schedule. Trains have been diverted to longer routes via Panipat, Kurukshetra and Hisar, thereby causing huge financial losses to the railways, said a senior railway official here.

Several prominent people and leaders of political parties, including the ruling Congress party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) have so far visited the spot to express their solidarity with the agitators.

However, the district police have made elaborate arrangements to keep the situation under control.

We are keeping a close tab on all developments. So far, protesters are peaceful and they have not tried to disturb law and order situation. We have made all arrangements to tackle any kind of emergency situation, Ram Singh Bishnoi, Jind’s police superintendent, told IANS Wednesday.

The trial of youth accused of arson attack on Dalit houses in Mirchpur village was shifted to New Delhi last month on the directions of the Supreme Court. A total of 98 Jat youths were arrested in the case and they are currently lodged in a jail in New Delhi.

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

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

As many as 150 lower caste Dalit families were driven out of the village, about 300 km from Chandigarh, and their homes were torched April 21 last year.

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