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Jat demonstration turns Haryana into a War Zone

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Rohtak: Shops and malls looted, market areas devastated; Haryana’s Rohtak town turned into a ghost town in mere three days. With Jat people’s demonstration for reservation in government jobs and academic institutes, the area resembles a war zone as troops and security forces patrol the area.

Be it the markets in Rohtak, located just 75 km from national capital Delhi, or Jhajjar or Bhiwani, or buildings and roadways buses in the violence-hit areas of Haryana, everything looks like they are in a war zone.

“The losses of traders and businessmen could run into hundreds of crores due to this mindless violence. This is no way to seek reservation in a democratic set up. There is hardly any sign of Haryana Police in the last one week. The government has abandoned people to fend for themselves,” Rohtak-based trader Rakesh Gupta told reporters.

Despite the army deployment in eight districts – Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Hisar, Jind, Kaithal, Sonipat and Panipat – and curfew imposed in five of them, unruly mobs have been on the rampage in several areas, especially in Rohtak and Jhajjar towns.

With hundreds of Jat youths taking control of the agitation and indulging in arson and looting, the focus of the Jat agitation, which was to demand reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, has led to the mindless destruction of government and private property.

“In Rohtak town, despite the army, the mobs looted several shops and set them on fire. No one stopped the mobs. There is total anarchy. We are stuck in our houses for four days. Our food supplies are finishing fast,” said Sarita Kumari, a housewife in Rohtak’s Civil Lines area.

Hooligans, who have joined the ranks of Jat demonstrators, have run amok by setting government and private property on fire, burning buses and private vehicles, blocking roads and highways, disrupting trains and uprooting tracks and indulging in looting and arson.

Be it police stations at some places, isolated railway stations, state transport buses and private vehicles and even railway coaches – immovable and movable property have been torched and damaged at several places.

With people in affected areas accusing the Haryana Police of inaction in the past one week, the state government is on the backfoot.

“A large number of police officials and personnel are from the Jat community. Many are refusing to act against the Jats since it is an emotional matter for them. The police is divided on this matter,” said a senior Haryana Police official told reporters in Chandigarh.

Haryana Home Secretary PK Dass said the police was being asked to control the situation.

“We have been conveyed the apprehension of Jat officials on taking action. We have issued strict directions to all officials. If they refuse to do so, they will face action,” Mr Dass told the media on Sunday.

Demonstrators uprooted the Delhi-Ambala railway track at Rajlu Garhi in Panipat district, disrupting the crucial rail line which connects Delhi with north India.

The NH-1 was blocked in Sonipat district, 50 km from Delhi, stranding thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles on the busy highway. (IANS)

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)