Tribune News Service
Hisar, March 19
Jat protesters clashed with police during their march towards Delhi from a village in Fatehabad on Sunday.
The clash began when police tried to stop protesters’ tractors at Dhani Gopal on the on Sirsa-Hisar Delhi National Highway from heading toward the national capital. In the clash that ensued, police lathicharged protesters.
A villager, Raj Kumar Kaswan, claimed more than 20 policemen and five protesters have sustained injuries.
Two police buses were damaged and two were set on fire at Dhani Gopal. Some press equipment was also snatched.
A Jat leader claimed that police used tear gas shells on stop the protesters from heading to Delhi. Police meanwhile claimed the protesters even pelted stones.
DSP Gurdayal Singh and two inspectors — one of them a woman — were reportedly injured in the clashes. Injured policemen and protesters have been admitted to a hospital.
Superintendent OP Narwal later said that DSP Singh was on duty at a barricade where tractor trolleys carrying protesters armed with sharp-edged weapons were stopped.
Police told them to leave the weapons behind, but they refused, the officer said. Soon more than 20 tractor trolleys joined them and began arguing with the policeman. A youngster threw a wooden log at the DSP, injuring him, SP Narwal said.
There was heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces near the dharna site.
Hisar IGP Amitabh Dhillon later visted the injured policemen in Fatehbad.
The development came as a meeting between leaders of the All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and an unspecified minister of state from the central government was held at the Haryana Bhawan in New Delhi on Sunday.
AIJASS leader Yashpal Malik, who is leading the Jat delegation, has asked supporters to remain calm and await the outcome of the talks.
The meeting came a day before Jats planned protest in the national capital.
Meanwhile, security was heightened in Jhajjar following the clashes.
Authorities in Haryana have imposed a ban on movement of tractor-trolleys in districts bordering Delhi on Monday to foil a call given by Jat leaders to lay seige to Delhi and hold a protest outside Parliament.
Director General of Police K.P. Singh said on Sunday that security forces were on high alert in districts bordering Delhi and monitoring the movement of Jat protestors in view of the March 20 'Dilli Kooch' call by the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS).
"There will be a complete ban on the movement of tractor-trolleys on highways and roads in districts adjoining Delhi on March 20... The Haryana Police is on high alert and people can move freely on highways. We have provided adequate security," he said here.
The administration in 15 districts of Haryana imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr.PC on Sunday as a precaution, prohibiting sale of liquor, carrying of firearms and other weapons, assembly of five or more persons near railway tracks and plying of tractor-trolleys carrying five or more persons on state and national highways.
The districts include Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Panipat, Hisar, Kaithal, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Jind and Sirsa.
"A limit of 10 litres has been imposed on refuelling of tractor-trolleys and directions have been issued to petrol pump owners to record details such as driver's name, registration number of the vehicle and number of people travelling in the vehicle. Ban has also been imposed on open sale of petrol, diesel and other inflammable materials," a government spokesman said.
He said the ban has also been imposed on plying of tractor-trolleys carrying food items, cooking equipment and materials and any type of weapon including lathis and swords on state and national highways.
The spokesman said pitching of tents along the state and national highways has also been prohibited and owners of dharamshalas, hotels and restaurants have been directed to maintain record of guests.
The authorities in the 15 districts have also stopped all Internet services like 2G, 3G, 4G, EDGE and GPRS and bulk messages provided on mobile networks in the district till 9 a.m. on March 21 to prevent spreading of wrong information and rumours.
Shops selling liquor would also remain closed till 9 a.m. on March 21.
Accusing the Haryana government of hatching a "conspiracy" to weaken their agitation, the Jat community on Friday said it will continue with their protests across the state and lay siege to Delhi on March 20.
Talks between the Jat leaders and Khattar, scheduled in Delhi on Friday, could not be held. Both sides blamed each other for this.
The Jat agitation entered the 50th day on Sunday.
The Jat leaders were earlier in talks with a panel of government officers but these had remained inconclusive.
Talks between the government and the Jat leaders hit a roadblock last month as the Haryana government made it clear that it has no jurisdiction to withdraw cases being investigated by the CBI against some Jat leaders over violence.
Jats have been holding peaceful protest demonstrations in several parts of the state since the end of January demanding reservation for Jats, jobs to the next of kin of those killed in violence in the Jat agitation last year, compensation to those injured, withdrawal of cases against them and action against the officers, who ordered action against the Jats, among other things.
Violence during the agitation last year had left 30 people dead and over 200 injured. Government and private property worth hundreds of crores of rupees was damaged. (With inputs from agencies)