Jat protests flare up again; bank set on fire

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Hisar:  The situation across Haryana remains tense. Protesting Jats continued with blockades in parts of Hisar and nearby districts today. Many see the amnesty by the government as a sign of weakness, prompting a virtual free for all, with many protesters attacking and looting banks and private property as well.

Jat villagers remain belligerent defying a call to stop violence from their own leaders. The protesters blocked the national highway linking Delhi to Hisar for several hours today.

Ajit Singh a Jat villager from Hisar said, "We will continue this till the situation is not sorted out and we don't get the OBC status".

 But that's not all that is at stake. The rioting, since Monday, has also been accompanied by looting. A State Bank of India branch, less than 300 meters from the army Cantonment, was set on fire by rioters after the mob took out and looted the ATM machine.

Even a private textile mill was not spared. Uday Singh, security in-charge of the HP Cotton Mills in Hisar said, "1,500-2,000 people came, beat up the guards, and then set the factory on fire. They also stole our computers from the offices."

Several vehicles were set on fire along the highway.

And what's fuelling the protests further is what many see as the buckling under by the state government which in a desperate bid to end the violence announced an amnesty on Tuesday for all those who were involved in rioting. The government has also suspended the Hisar SP Subhash Yadav and filed murder charges against him for ordering police action in which a youth, who was part of the mob, was killed.

 
The Sangharsh Samiti has declared a truce with the government but it seems that other Jat leaders don't want to back down just yet. And with police forces already spread thin, the worry is that the fire and protests from Hisar could spread to other districts as well.



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