10 Die in Caste Protest in India


At least 10 people have been killed and around 150 injured in the North Indian State of Haryana in a violent  protest by the Jat community. Director General of Police Yash Pal Singal reported that authorities were trying to identify the conspirators and would take action.

Rajiv Kumar, Jhajjar police chief said, “We are not in control. The situation is very tense as thousands of protesters are on roads encircling the main administrative area in the town.”

According to Independent, curfew has been imposed in the area. Thousands of Troops and paramilitary forces are also positioned across Haryana. There are orders to shoot on sight as protestors have turned violent and have burnt buses, buildings, blocked highways and major rail routes.

The protest has triggered a water shortage in neighbouring Delhi as they have cut off canal gates at a water treatment plant that provides water to most of the areas of the national capital, reported Gulf News.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Since yest, v r pursuing wid Har n Central govts to seek army help to open Munak canal which supplies Del water. Pray something happens soon.”

India’s constitution has a system which demands positive actions to help the caste which have been traditionally discriminated by the caste system. Jats are a rural caste of Haryana who rank high in the cast system, but want eligibility for quotas reserved for lower castes which have faced discrimination in the past. They want them to be included in the official category of ‘other backward classes’ (OBC). However, to come under OBC category a caste needs to be “socially and educationally disadvantaged”.

The rapidly growing population and a frustration over lack of job opportunities are the main causes behind the agitation and the consequent violent protests.  Last year Patel community in Gujrat, which is Prime Minister Modi’s Home State, raised the same demands and the protest took a violent turn.

Noteworthy that both Patels and Jats backed the present government when it came to power in 2014.

Nalin Mehta, a writer and social scientist said, “solving this reservation mess will require a wider political consensus on caste … and the downward caste mobility this has sparked off.”

The Modi Government, which is already shaken by JNU protests, has another challenge to face now.

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