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What is the Jat Reservation Dispute?

5 min read

By Sakshi Chhabra

Introduction

The Jat people, also known as Jatt or Jaat are a historically agriculture-based community. The people of this community are found mostly in the rural parts of Northern-India. Like the other castes, the Jats also sought themselves to be included in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. This was done so that they get access to the benefits of the (OBC) category.

However, in the initial stage the Jats were not included in the (OBC) category of the Central Government’s list. This community could not even seek reservation in Punjab and Haryana as well.

In the later stage the Jats were listed as Other Backward Class (OBC) in 7 out of 36 states of India and Union Territories, this included Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh.

The Jats have been demanding reservation in the category of central and state government jobs from several decades.

What is the Jat reservation agitation?

The Jat reservation agitation was a series of protest which was seen in February 2016. These protests were seen especially in the state of Haryana and the protests paralyzed a state for about 10 days. The demand of the protestors was to seek a place for their caste in the (OBC) category forgetting affirmative benefits.

Other than Haryana these protests were also seen in the neighbouring states such as Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as well as in the National capital of Delhi.

The protest in Haryana were peaceful in the initial stage but later it was transformed into violent riots by the Jat community.

Beginning on February 12th, 2016 the Jat community organized non-violent protest seeking reservation by blocking the railway lines as well as the roads. In response to this the non-Jats began counter protesting to oppose their demands. On February 18th, the non-Jats protesters clashed with a group of lawyers who are protesting the JNU sedition controversy of 2016, mistaking that the lawyers were for Jats.

Soon after violent protests begin all over the state, the police also allegedly had beaten up some Jat students in Rohtak. The police also raided a boy’s hostel in Haryana and reportedly assaulted the judge students.

There after a series of violent riots began which was led by the Jat community.

In the district of Rohtak, vehicles and shops were set on fire. Not only this a petrol pump situated at Kalanur was also set on fire.

In Bhiwani district, a BJP MP Dharambir was vandalised, also several incidents where buses were set on fire was seen. Official records of a cooperative bank and ATM were burnt. Many Police chowkis were also destroyed by the Jat community.

In Faridabad, the protestors clashed violently with the police and the police also beat up some journalists. In the district of Sonipat, the Ganaur railway station was destroyed, the protesters also vandalised a hotel and a college which was owned by a member of parliament (MP).

To control the situation, army as well as paramilitary forces were deployed. The Haryana government pacified the Jats to investigate the matter by setting up a committee. A probe-panel was created by the government to investigate the agitation.

By February 22, the protests caused have estimated loss of 340 billion dollars and by February 26 almost thirty people were killed in the violence caused by the riots.

The Government of Haryana had approved the Haryana Backward Classes Bill that ensured reservation in education and services sector, on March 29th, 2016. This act was notified on May 13th, 2016.

The Bill listed all Jats of Hinduism, Sikhism as well as Islam faiths, Bishnois, Tyagis and Rors in the Backward Class Category (C). The bill makes them eligible for 10% reservation in class 3 and 4, as well as 6% reservation in class 1 and 2.

However, after this reservation bill was passed the Jat community felt let down as only 10% reservation was provided to them.

The leaders of the Jat quota believed that the government had left them in stumble, because they were neither provided with the backward class quota nor they would be able to get the benefit of the new reservation law in Haryana, since the community was included in Backward Class Category (C).

The new reservation law pass by the Haryana government what state by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and is now sub judice.[1]

Yashpal Malik, the President of All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), said that the Jats wanted to be included in the BC (B) category so that they can get their quota within the 50% cap.

The Supreme Court had made it very clear that the quota for the Scheduled Caste and the Backward Class cannot exceed the 50% cap. Also, the government should give a reason for which the community is included in the BC (C) category. The new Act benefits the Jats in Punjab but in Haryana no benefits can be used until the Backward Classes Act, 2016 is scrapped.

As a result, in September 2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court passed an order stating that this law must be kept in abeyance till the Haryana Backward Class Commission, determines the extent and quantum of this quota in jobs and educational sectors.

Conclusion

The reservation agitation was a pessimistic political build up that took over the streets and it was not a spur of the moment agitation. Incidents of violence was seen all over Haryana and even other parts of the country.

The reservation is becoming a big issue in the country, not only riots are created by the Jat reservation but the Maratha reservation as well as the Patel’s are also in the limelight. It is extremely necessary for the government to act against the reservation issues raging.

The end game is to revisit the reservation system. Patel’s, Jats and Marathas will be the ultimate winners if Quota system is not based on the criteria of caste. It is very important to remove this discrimination, the backward classes should get equal representation, but this reservation is making it very difficult for the general category people.

In today’s time, reservation is not just a positive action but the main aim behind it is to achieve maximum benefits. Meritocracy has been sacrificed on the altar of reservation.

Our constitution of India says that all Indians are equal, and equality must exist in the society, but the harsh reality is that the Indian society is unequal.

References

  1. Jat leaders feel let down by new reservation law, available at: tribuneindia.com (last visited on 17th June 2021)