New Delhi: The Jats of Uttar Pradesh, mainly concentrated in the western flank of the state, have decided to launch an agitation to demand reservation in central institutions and jobs in the state.
The Jat Arakshan Bachao Maharally has resolved to push for their demands and have threatened to block rail and road traffic and disrupt water and power supply.
The decision was taken at a rally held in Baghpat's Bamnauli village on Sunday, even as Hardik Patel, leading the Patel protests for reservation in Gujarat, spoke to the media in New Delhi and made a wider appeal to Jats, Gujjars and Kurmis to join what is being pitched as a nationwide stir demanding reservation for these communities.
Akhil Bharatiya Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti's national president Yashpal Malik told IANS that the rally was among several other such meetings being held as a build-up to the major meet the community was planning to hold in Haryana's Hisar on September 13.
Jats across several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, are trying to put up a united front to push for reservation and are expected to attend the September 13 rally.
"We will announce the nationwide launch of our stir on September 13. Meetings are being held in almost all districts of Uttar Pradesh to make the upcoming rally a success. Jats from Meerut, Moradabad, and Baghpat will also participate in the Hisar rally," Malik told IANS.
Jats already have reservation in government-run institutions in Uttar Pradesh.
Incidentally, political observers see this more as a precursor to the panchayat elections due in the state in a month's time.
"Panchayat elections will be announced in Uttar Pradesh in 20 days' time. Some Jat leaders like Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh and some other independents are striving to cobble together a united front for Jats," said a state Congress leader.
However, former Congress MP from Muzaffarnagar Harendra Malik is also participating in the agitation.
Asked about Malik's participation, the Congress leader said his party did not have an official view on this so far, but added that several Jat Mahasabhas (associations) were a part of this.
"In Uttar Pradesh, Jats are concentrated in one and a half divisions, that is eight districts like Meerut, Aligarh etc. They have been protesting for reservation for a while.
"The thing is those who do caste-based politics are able to gather crowds. But Jats in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are polarised by the Bharatiya Janata Party's communal politics. So Ajit Singh is not very effective. He lost his seat in the last election," said the Congress leader.
Ajit Singh, however, feels differently.
"There have been several rallies in places like Bijnor and Shamli. There are a lot of Jat Mahasabhas that are organising rallies, but they are going to need Ajit Singh to unite them," he told IANS.
He, however, said the disruptions were being threatened more by the Haryana Jats and he did not have information about similar plans in his state. "I am supporting the cause anyway," said Singh.
Ajit Singh said that in Uttar Pradesh, Jats were acknowledged as a backward community by the state government, but the reservation did not apply in central institutions.
"If you (Jats) are in Lucknow University, you are not a backward, but in state institutions in Noida or Ghaziabad, you are. This is just plain ludicrous. UP state
acknowledges Jats are backward. But Patels don't have reservation anywhere. UP Jats are different. They are asking for reservation in central services," Singh told IANS.
He said Jats were educationally backward, and normally considered economically well off, were also not as prosperous any more.
"Educationally, Jats are backward, economically, land-holdings have gone down to less than one hectare. The Mandal Commission had said Jats, Kurmis and Gujjars are in the same state. All of these have reservation. How did the Jats get left behind?" Singh posed.
He said the Mandal Commission gave its view on the matter based on extensive surveys. "But no survey has been conducted before denying us reservation," he added.