Yeshpal Malik, president, Akhil Bhartiya Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti spearheading the Jat agitation for reservation—spoke to Pragya Singh over the phone and made the sensational allegation that “BJP and BJP-affiliated groups started the violence and incited the youth in Haryana. "
What is the current status of the protets?
Agitations are still going on in some parts, while in some the leaders of dharnas have gone home. You can see some of the Jats are still out on the streets, while some of their leaders have left.
How was this allowed to happen?
We had been out, protesting, every day from 10 AM to 7 PM, but at 6 PM on February 21 as the violence began spiraling, political people stepped in. They decided that, in these circumstances, the only way to stop violence is to withdraw the agitation. Jat leaders, therefore, stepped back in most places—but the Jat people, their supporters, the agitators, remained on the streets.
Don’t the Jat protesters realize that things are getting completely out of hand?
The violence was sparked off by non-Jat groups—I’m telling you this. The BJP leaders hatched a conspiracy against us. It was a huge conspiracy that the Jats could not understand.
What are you alleging?
I’m saying a straightforward thing—in Rohtak, after the lawyer attack [when police fired at lawyers who supported Jats four days ago] the situation started turning bad. Maybe some of our people [Jats involved in agitation] got involved in violent incidents after this point, it is also possible that some of us Jats made mistakes, but one cannot ignore that the OBC brigade led by [BJP MP from Kurukshetra in Haryana Rajkumar] Saini have been involved in sparking off the violence first. These people are now once again standing up as rivals to Jats.
You mean the remarks made by Saini propelled some of the Jats towards violence, or is a split between Jats and other communities in the making?
People were angered, obviously, by what Saini said, but they were just angry, not violent. What I am saying is that non-Jat leaders and groups of the BJP came out and actually began the violence, arson etc. They want to make it a Jat versus non-Jat issue.
But it’s the Jats who are angry—over reservations, and then want a chief minister of their community in Haryana, isn’t it?
Maybe some people do, but only the ones who have active political involvement. I know that the ordinary Jat citizen does not care about who is the “King”. This whole discussion on who becomes the chief minister, raja kaun banata hai, is entirely the concern of people who are active and involved in politics. The ordinary Jat does not care. After all, when Jats were chief ministers, did they raise the prices of wheat [which would directly benefit Haryana’s Jat cultivators]? When the Jats were chief ministers, all the Jats got is 5,000-7,000 jobs for Jats. So the Jat agitation is not about getting a chief minister.
Still, so much anger because of just reservation?
Also because there is an effort underway to break the Jat community from within—the Jat is always used and exploited by political people. Yes, Jat anger right now is at a heightened pitch, but again it’s the politically aligned people misleading them. Look, in any of these agitations, the active political workers are barely 1-2 per cent of the people who have joined in. At least 75-80 per cent are just people concerned with their everyday life—they want to go back home and worry about their next meal, not fight it out over who is CM.
Why then are Jats speaking in different voices ? Do they want to break off the agitations, or don’t they?
Any agitation of this dimension would take 48-72 hours to wind down. Those who don’t want the situation to return to normalcy spread rumours about violence, but the fact is that even if people now want to continue these agitations, their hands are tied—it is their compulsion to wind down. Look, even Gandhi had to call off his movements…
About your fundamental demand for reservations: When the courts have not ruled in your favour, what do you think the government can do?
The Supreme Court decision is there, yes, but our point is that there are 700-8000 such communities that are not part of the reserved list at the centre. A private members’ bill was introduced to make them part of the reserved list, but it is not going to go anywhere most likely. Now, what we want is that the government at the centre should accept on the central list any community that is part of the state government’s reserved list. It’s that simple.
How will this solve the problem for Jats?
Say in Gujarat, where since 1994 the state government accepts Jats in the reserved category, a Jat getting into the Sales Tax is able to avail of reservation. But if the same person gets a similar job in the same state but in the Income Tax department under the central government, he does not get benefit of reservation. How is this fair? And how does this even make sense—We want this discrepancy to be removed.
This can be done only through a central law?
Yes to remove this anomaly that Haryana Jats face, we want that all these communities, other than Jats too, get reservation benefits. That is what we are agitating for.