The Jaat Aarakshan Aandolan is raging beyond the borders of Haryana and now touching the neighbouring states as well. The ongoing agitation is all about reservation of the Jaat Community in OBC Category. The Jaats from other states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are also pledging solidarity with those of Haryana. It is only in agitation that the unity in the diverse population of this biggest sub-continent in the world comes to surface. Alas !!
There are 325 villages in Delhi which are predominated by this particular community. So, it is quite obvious and expected that the sparks fly soon to these patches of the Capital as well. This morning I was heading for my physiotherapy session (within the radius of 2-3 kms from my residence). On taking a U-turn on the main crossing, rows of Riot Control Vans and swarms of Police with shields and helmets came in sight right in front of the District Court. Alarmed I called up home to pick me back if suddenly the junta decided to go mutinous.
Last evening my chauffeur informed me that his village, situated on the outskirts of Delhi and infested by the agitating community ( he belongs to the same), had been cordoned off by the agitators disallowing the traffic to flow to and fro. I told him not to report on duty if the barricade persisted. He advised me, for the nth time, to stock up milk in good quantity to survive for at least a week’s time as the Dairies were going dry due to the agitation. Incidentally, the supply of milk to the Capital is also majorly from Haryana.
Thankfully nothing untoward happened on my return from the physiotherapy center but for the quaint incident narrated by the rickshawwallah who brought me back home. His previous passenger, also a lady, had while alighting told him to wait for two minutes and did the disappearing act. Poor chap was not paid and had been in wait for half an hour when I took his rick for the ride home. Strange are the ways of the humans!
Coming back to the agitation. It was sometime later during midday when my regular vegetable seller, Kaliya, a shrewed Bihari, hollered to everyone in general and no one in particular that the area was under curfew,”Jo bhi lena hai fataafat lelo. Abhie do-teen din aur kuchh nahin aayega.” It was enough for the panic button to be pressed. I made mental notes while grabbing whatever left-overs he had on his cart.
Later, curiosity had the better of me. Needless to say, the snooper in me was tickled as well. Strolling out of the block on the service lane, I found the entire neighbourhood on street. Empty DTC buses parked by the sub-way and a massive traffic jam right on the Outer Ring Road as the main crossing ahead was reportedly freezed by the Police not permitting any vehicular movement beyond. In Kaliya’s lingo freezing was curfew which made it easy for him to vacate his cart of the burden of half dried, half rotten sabzis purchased from the Mandi yesterday.
There are many more of Kaliya’s ilk – those who are looting ATMs, burning buses, resorting to hooliganism, destroying public assets – all in the name of Aandolan. Talking of manhandling public assets, the divider on the main road fronting our block has been hacked off in the middle, the railing attached to it dangling crookedly on one side, so that the stranded cars, autos, three-wheelers and two-wheelers can take a U-turn and go back the way they have come from as the only other way to do so is from the main crossing which has now been blocked. As I was lamenting the mutilation of a public asset, my ‘thinking’ neighbour uttered, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.” And that settled the matter.
The biggest blow the agitation has dealt on Delhi is the water crisis which was quite expected because supply of water has always been a kind of a trump card in the hands of the Haryana Government. Whenever the latter has been miffed, the fitting reply has come in the form of stoppage of water supply to the Capital. This time it is none the better.
While we were standing out and watching all the rigmarole, an unknown gentleman came up to us and remonstrated how he had tried to cross the border twice or thrice last night but failed eventually and how his wife had to spend the night alone at home in Sonepat. He was still stranded and did not know how he would reunite with his better half. People in throngs had taken to the roads and was now walking down the service lane. My maid, who had decided to come to work on a Sunday, did not know how she would go back. I asked her to leave as soon as possible.
The cynics say that the entire fracas is politically motivated. The experienced roll out statistics. I am reminded of an oft-quoted adage in Bangla which goes like this: “Jakhon rajaay rajaay ladai karey ooloo khaagra poorey morey” which if transliterated will stand as “When the kings are at war it is the weeds that burn to ashes.”
Back inside the house, my prime worry is to fill up the larder. So, I ring up the Meat Shop to order a variety of non-veg items, just in case, the situation worsens and veggies are hard to find. I am a bit taken aback when the shop owner informs that the prices have gone up by at least Rs. 40/- per item because of what else but the Aandolan. Everything seems to be hailing from Haryana – from the Jaats to Milk to Water to Chicken to Veggies. “Arrey Sahab ! Saarey farms to Haryana mein hii hai,” supplies the meat vendor. Bhugol was never one of my favourite subjects. “You cannot even draw the Earth what will you do in life?” Was my Geography Teacher’s favourite tch-tch. In response, we the back-benchers had rhymed the worst possible limerick on her. Had I taken her or the subject seriously I would have been more knowledgeable of the richness lying on the other side of the border.
However, the mortifying fact is that even after more than 65 years of independence we are still asking for privileges like reservation. Those, like us, who have no claim to reservation, want that the Center should take a strong stand and abolish all types of reservations forthwith so that na rahegii baans aur na bajegii baansurii. Those who have the littlest scope of seeking reservation froth in the mouth angrily and growl, “If those buggers can have then why not us?” In the ground analysis, these are the banes of a pluralist society where every sect, group, guild competes to out-lobby one another for privies.
However, in this Machiavellian game of pressuring the Authorities to accede to the demands of a section of society, the magnitude of loss suffered by the ex-chequer is unimaginable! With the stoppage of road and railway services, damage of public utilities (railway tracks, roadways etc.), capture of public resources (water supply points) and rendering them dysfunctional, adoption of various violent means to acquire what the agitators believe is rightfully theirs prove once more that we have discarded long back the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and means-justifying-the-end-line-of-action because in a terror-ridden world the only language that is understood and heard is that of might and menace. Agitation can never be peacefully effective any longer because the corridors of power consider peace to be a weakling’s excuse to cover up the inability to crash into hard-core bargaining.
In this entire fiasco, our Kejri Government is the one who has taken the only momentous decision – that of closing down the schools for the next few days because of water shortage, milk shortage, disruption on road and such other obscure excuses which are yet to be identified and enlisted. This is nothing new because K Govt. is in the habit of taking such orbit-shifting steps which always boil down to downing the shutters of the educational institutes kyunkii politics mein education ka kya kaam? Remember the Odd-Even Scheme of Things to free the Capital of pollutants, sorry, pollution?
While on the subject of netas, my simple question to all those king shapers and speech makers is how do they now defend the image of a Shining and Incredible India with so much of disharmony and outrage spilling over on streets? I believe, here also we apply the same universal funda of sab chalta hai?
Just to break the ominous atmosphere of the post, my nephew ordered pizzas for lunch from none other than Dominoes which is more than 2-21/2 kms. away from our place. While we were debating with bated breath whether he would be actually able to deliver the goods on time given the blockades, police barriers etc,, the delivery boy did arrive that too within the much advertised 30 minutes time. Commerce has that inherent drive to thrive under any circumstance!
Before I ramble on forever, the one thought which has really been nibbling me, since my resourceful sabziwallah Kaliya, innocuously announced the possibility of a curfew is, what will happen to our Ms. Rinky in case of such an eventuality? Where will she romp around and relieve herself as the Service Lane which runs parallel to the block and is adjacent to the main road is her favourite joint for such activities? Her freedom of prancing around will as much be curtailed as our busyness for subsistence? And under a Shoot At Sight Order who will secure the fastest mover award – the trigger-toting man in uniform or the insanely merry canine who has a penchant for flinging herself on whosoever nears her wagging her tail in frenzied speed and licking the wit out of her poor victim?
Point to Ponder…………….***