It all started in 1991, after the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report. Jats have been protesting to be on the OBC list of the government ever since then. In 1997, Jats of UP, Haryana and MP demanded for their inclusion in the Union OBC list which was rejected by the National Commission for Backward classes. But the campaign began on big scale in 2009 after the formation of the Jat Arakshan Samiti. Since then, the Jats have protested on many occasions for the quota, some protests were on a large scale like the one that started a week ago wherein they blocked the transport and water supply to Delhi.
The Mandal Commission used social, economic and educational indicators to determine backwardness and based on these indicators the question of Seat reservation and Quotas was considered. However, it is a different matter that these indicators are no longer used to determine the reservation and the people falling under “creamy layer” are enjoying all the benefits.
Now if we look at the economic and social status of Jats, we’ll find that it is primarily farmers’ community and located in North India. They are traditionally not considered as backward and economically also they are well off. Also, they form 29% of Haryana’s population.
But still, Jats are demanding that they also be declared OBC (other backward classes) so that they can also claim the benefit of 27% OBC quota in the government jobs.
In 2010, group of jats blocked the water supply to Delhi wherein they blocked two water plants which supplies water to 40% of Delhi. Then again in March 2011, Jat organisation disrupted the rail services around Hisar, Haryana, demanding the reservation in government services. This was very fatal protest within Haryana, wherein the Jat Samiti boycotted the celebration of Holi Festival; they blocked the supply of Coal, Fertiliser and cement in Northern India. National Commission for Backward Classes rejected the demands for reservation to the Jat community.
Then again in 2013, All India Jat Reservation Committee threatened to cut off the drinking water supply to Delhi. This time the agitation began by the Jats of UP. This time the congress government, to woo the protestors ahead of the Lok Sabha election, showed some interest in granting them reservation in Central Government jobs as it asked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to reconsider the matter. Then in March 2014, the Cabinet decided to give the Jats community reservation in central Government jobs and Educational Institutions. This demand came from nine states- Gujarat, Haryana, HP, MP, Rajasthan, UP, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar.
Before the election of 2014, Hooda government included Jats and 4 other castes under 10% specially backward class (quota). But in July 2015, after the Supreme Court refused State Governments’ quota recommendations, the Punjab and Haryana government also rejected the Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s decision of including the community in the Specially Backward Class.
Finally, in March 2015, Supreme Court quashed the centre’s decision to include jats in the category of Other Backward Classes to provide them with Reservation. Supreme Court made clarified that caste alone can’t be a basis to give reservation to a community and that Social Backwardness is the prime indicator to determine the backwardness of a community.
Now the protest for the Quota system has begun again and this time it is more violent and fatal than the previous ones held by the community. They have blocked rail and road traffic in various districts of Haryana. The worse affected are the Rohtak, Bhwani and Jhajjar districts of Haryana, where because of the rising tension the administration has blocked the mobile internet services. So far, 10 people have died in the protest and several others had injured. Even the army has been deployed in many districts and curfew has been imposed in few districts.
The situation is already worse and now the students from the Delhi University has also joined the Jat Quota Agitation with over a thousand youths from the Jat community taking out rally from Delhi University and demanding the reservation for themselves.
This time the protest has turned much more violent than the previous times and with the JNU row going alongside the Jat protest, it seems that the Modi Government has got its hands full ahead of the budget session. Hoping for the “acche din” to come soon.