The government’s failure to respond in time coupled with the cops’ reluctance to act against the agitators during the early days of protest was responsible for the violent Jat agitation in Haryana which left 30 dead and several others injured besides causing an estimated financial loss of Rs 20,000 crore. For CM Manohar Lal Khattar, the Jat agitation clearly didn’t register until it was too late. Khattar counts heavily on snooping CID sleuths all the time, but for once they let him down badly. They failed to inform him how far the protesters or their perpetrators could go. That’s why the CM wasn’t taking the protests that seriously. Devoid of options, he banked on his Jat ministers O.P. Dhankar and Captain Abhimanyu to assuage their indignant community. While the CM chose to travel to different places to rake in investments for the upcoming “Happening Haryana Summit”, back at home was a protest brewing that would in the next few days turn it into the most “mishappening” state. It would be naive to suggest that the state leaders or officers never expected the agitation to turn as unruly as it did. They probably don’t remember what happened in 1986 when the protest against the Rajiv-Longowal accord had thrown life completely out of gear. The agitation has been building up since last year. In September last year, the jats had announced to gherao Delhi, but they postponed it in view of the Panchayat polls.Though 15 February was announced as the new date to block roads and trains, the CM met some Jat leaders with a few days to go and cajoled them into postponing the stir. However, that was not to be. Different factions of Jats associations hit the roads and rail tracks. However, the government could have still nipped them in the bud, but sources say that the cops did not take them on.
The protesters simply went on a rampage, leaving a trail of destruction that may have set the state several decades back, especially in Sonepat, Jhajjar and Rohtak — the epicentre of the agitation. Having proved ineffective, Khattar became a source of scorn and ridicule in media and public. After he went for an MRI test for his aching back, a newspaper even made a cartoon which has the technician asking the CM: “No spine, Sir?” In Rohtak, he was heckled and greeted with black flags. Some political analysts predict that this polarisation between Jats and non-Jats may actually benefit the BJP and Khattar in the long run. That may happen, but as of now both are railing against them. Jats bear a grudge for obvious reasons, while non-Jats are feeling betrayed for their failure to rein Jats in from ruining their livelihood.