Haryana hauled up for not identifying Jat stir leaders

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 07, 2011 17:30 hrs

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday pulled up the Haryana government for its failure to identify leaders of the Jat agitation, during which rail and road traffic was blocked for 11 days in January, to protest arrest of community members allegedly involved in Mirchpur village attack on Dalits last year.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly expressed their displeasure after the Haryana government told the court that the Jat agitation was spontaneous and thus, it was difficult to pinpoint their leader.

'You people are saying that you cannot identify the leaders of the agitation. As democracy is run by some leaders, similarly mobocracy is also run by some leaders. How it is possible that they cannot be identified?' the bench said, in the course of the hearing of a petition seeking to bring to book all those involved in April 21, 2010 attack in Haryana's Hisar district.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically-challenged daughter were killed in the arson attack in Mirchpur village, about 300 km from Chandigarh.

The Jat agitators were protesting against the arrest of their 98 people allegedly involved in attack. The blockade was ordered by the mahapanchayat of 12 khaps (caste councils).

At the very outset of the hearing, Justice Singhvi, referring to the news reports on the blockade of rail traffic in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad district, asked: 'What preventive steps are being taken? Do you take any preventive step to avoid such situation and destruction of public property?'

'The government will have to apply its mind that such things never happen again,' the court said, also wanting to know what steps have been taken by Northern Railway and the Haryana government to recover the losses it suffered on account of 11-day-long agitation. It gave them both two weeks time to file affidavits stating the steps taken by them to recover the losses and action taken by it against the agitation's leaders.

The court said that there were elaborate guidelines issued by the apex court on the steps to be taken by the state to recover the loss to the public property in the course of an agitation, and there was no point in restating them.

The matter will come up for hearing on March 28.