The Centre has taken a dim view of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's calling out the army in Hissar district to control rampaging members of the powerful Jat community, who went on a violent spree for the second day on Tuesday, demanding reservation in jobs.
Union government sources told The Hindu the Centre felt that the State government had overreacted to the events, especially as it also charged Hissar Superintendent of Police (SP) Subhash Yadav and some other policemen with murder (Section 302 of the IPC) after two protesters died on Monday, allegedly in police firing.
These sources said that all this was in sharp contrast to the State government's lack of action after two Dalits, including a teenage girl, were killed after 150 Dalit homes were set on fire by an upper caste mob in the village of Mirchpur in the same district on April 21.
The Congress sources alleged that on that occasion, the District Magistrate and SP were merely transferred, and lower level police functionaries suspended, as most of them were Jats — the community to which Mr. Hooda belongs.
And this, they added, despite the fact that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by Minister of State in the PMO and general secretary in-charge of Haryana Prithviraj Chavan, had visited Mirchpur on April 30. The Congress sources at that time had said that Mr. Gandhi's visit to a Congress-ruled State to meet victims of violence was indicative of his “strong disapproval” of the State government's handling of caste-related violence, especially as he had been working hard to woo back the party's traditional vote bank of Dalits. Subsequently, a Parliamentary Committee also visited Mirchpur and submitted a report highly critical of the state government.
Mr. Hooda's detractors in the Congress also pointed out that with the State having had three Jat Chief Ministers in a row — Congress leader Bansi Lal, then Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Om Prakash Chautala and now Mr. Hooda — the State's non-Jats, who account for around 77 per cent of the population, were gradually turning against the party. The Jats, on the other hand, saw Mr. Chautala as their leader. It was against this backdrop that Mr. Hooda did not wish to be seen doing anything that might annoy the Jats, they said. And this was the reason why he did not act against the policemen whose negligence led to the Mirchpur outrage, these sources said.
For the Centre, the Jat agitation in Haryana is also worrisome, the government sources added, because the All-India Jat Mahasabha, which is spearheading the movement, has threatened to block the Commonwealth Games, starting October 3. Besides, it could spread to western Uttar Pradesh which, like, Haryana, borders Delhi, the venue of the Games. In this connection, it is learnt that Congress leaders will be speaking to Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh, seeking his cooperation in checking the movement's spread to western U.P.