How do we categorise Jat agitation? A spontaneous protest or well-conceived and delivered hysterical mass mobilisation? Did the police collude or did Khattar fail to execute his duty as Chief Minister, thereby paralysing the state bureaucracy?
The fundamental question remains why the Indian political brass continues to remain silent on the issue of accountability of loss. Haryana not only witnessed systematic destruction of public and private property but also caste violence of the worst kind.
The mob, through its action, demonstrated that it had the luxury of time to pick and choose the target which in this case turned out to be all non-Jat communities. The government stood by for almost a week while this mobilisation went on till the state literally went up in flames. And eventually, instead of looking into the dynamics of violence and bringing perpetrators to justice, the current government not only bowed down and announced reservations but also in the process legitimised the narrative of disruptive protest and consequent political concessions.
Instead of conducting a debate on how Jat agitation affected a large number of communities, both the Congress and BJP quickly buried the violence like a bad dream. This brings us to the question of boundary of protest politics, responsibility of the protestors, accountability of those providing leadership at the local level, sympathisers at top and finally, the politics of instigation.
We don’t have answers so we ask these questions and questions can be answered only when a systematic enquiry takes place. The consequence of the agitation is that neither the question of quota has been explained nor a sense of justice prevails for those who suffered and experienced destruction of livelihood and property.
Yes there is a theory floating around that aggressive demand for reservation was a result of non-Jat consolidation defeating Jat-led Congress bruising the community’s pride thereby fueling animosity and collective grudge. But if this is the case then a similar sentiment could have been evident in Maharashtra and Jharkhand where non-Maratha and non-tribal combinations defeated the entrenched state elites. And then this is not the first time a non-Jat has become chief minister of Haryana. Bhajan Lal was a non-Jat leader and also a firm administrator.
So the issue remains as to why violence only erupted in Haryana and how come state police failed to quell the agitation? Was it because state police witnessed a caste base pattern of induction making it homogenous thereby rendering it ineffective in dealing with violence at the local level as kinship bond prevailed over sense of duty? Or high ups simply failed to respond when local officers alerted the top about the ground situation? We don’t have answers.
Then what about the role of Chief Minister himself. Did the Chief Minister misread the intensity of protests or of political actors who used the ground situation to polarise to their advantage? Did it reflect inexperience of Khattar or simply wrong political calculation?
So what is required is that the state institutes an enquiry of commission to look into the genesis of this violent agitation as it stands different from the Patidar agitation of Gujarat and Gujjar agitation of Rajasthan. In both agitations public property was destroyed and arterial nerves of the state choked but none of the agitations destroyed private properties of other communities to create deep fault lines. And it is here that the moot question rests.
Was this agitation conducted to settle simple political scores? Or politics of social instigation with the intention of soft polarisation went out of control as it created a counter narrative of perceived victimhood in Jats leading to organised violence against other communities
In this case, absence of justice will create alienation and fuel hatred within communities. So what is required is a clinical enquiry against those who held power at the time of crisis and agent provocateurs at ground level who derailed civil life.
Yes, political and social groups have the right to protest and disrupt but dignity of livelihood too needs to be respected especially of those who have nothing to do with the political narrative. So let there be a commission of enquiry instead of multiple FIRs lest the wound festers and turns gangrenous.