Mirchpur violence: Jats demand SIT probe; blockade disrupts traffic (Lead)

January 23rd, 2011 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Jind (Haryana), Jan 23 (IANS) Road and rail traffic were badly affected in Jind district Sunday as hundreds of Jat community members blocked roads and railway lines to demand a Special Investigation Team probe into last year’s Mirchpur caste violence.Most state roadways buses and other public transport remained off the road.

The protesters, who have been blocking the Delhi-Ferozepur railway line near Jind railway station for the last nine days, Sunday extended their campaign to highways and other important road links.

All roads leading to Bhiwani, Sonepat, Barwala and Patiala towns and the rail link between Delhi and Hisar near Mayad village remained blocked through the day.

“Most of the passenger trains were cancelled and long distance trains are running late. We have diverted the trains to alternate longer routes, said a senior railways official.

According to him, the blockade has caused Railways losses of several lakhs of rupees during the last one week.

The Haryana government, which had already deployed a large contingent of state police and paramilitary forces, has sought additional 10 companies of paramilitary force from the central government.

The Jat mahapanchayat, a congregation of 42 khap panchayats, has demanded a fresh Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Mirchpur caste violence in which an elderly Dalit man and his daughter were killed.

Besides, the protesters have also sought shifting of the court trial from New Delhi to Hisar and the release of arrested Jat youths.

The state government has agreed to refer the case to the CBI, but the agitating Jats have now started demanding a probe by the special investigation team (SIT) into the Mirchpur incident.

“We are not satisfied with CBI probe and demand the constitution of a SIT to look into this matter. So far, we have held three meetings with government officials but nothing concrete has come out,” said Suresh Koth, secretary of the Jat Mahapanchayat.

“We will continue our protest in a peaceful manner,” he said.

Haryana Congress president Phool Chand Mullana Sunday urged the community to end their protest.

“We appeal to the Jat community to immediately end their protest as it is harassing thousands of people. We are ready to discuss and sort out every issue. In fact, the state government has already accepted their demand of a CBI probe but I have no knowledge about their fresh demand of SIT,” Mullana said.

In the meantime, a high-level meeting was on in Hisar town to find a solution to the problem.

Mirchpur village in Hisar district hit the headlines last year when the dominant upper caste Jat members set fire to a row of houses of the Dalit (Balmiki) families April 21 last year.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically-challenged daughter were killed in the fire in their home and at least 18 houses were destroyed in the attack.

As many as 150 Dalit families were driven out of the village, about 300 km from Chandigarh, and their homes were torched.

The trial of the youth accused of the arson attack was shifted to New Delhi in December on the directions of the Supreme Court.

A total of 98 Jat youths were arrested in the case and are currently lodged in a jail in New Delhi.

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