Jats to march on Delhi tomorrow, govt shuts down city from today

Twelve metro stations in central Delhi will be shut down at 8 pm tonight and the entry of people into Lutyens Delhi will be strictly vetted from 11 pm onwards Photograph:( ANI )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 19, 2017, 03.19 AM (IST)

With the Jats threatening to march on Delhi tomorrow to press their demand for reservations in government jobs and educational institutions, the central government has responded by shutting down the city. 

The Haryana government, meanwhile, has called for a dialogue with the protesters. And 124 paramilitary companies have been deployed in Haryana.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held talks with the agitating Jat leaders from the state on the quota issue today. Before meeting Khattar, Yashpal Malik, chairperson of the All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) which is spearheading the agitation, said that the protests will be peaceful and they will decide their next course of action after the talks.

"The protests will be peaceful. For 50 days our protests were peaceful. We have made seven demands and we are here to meet the CM and others with a positive frame of mind.

"We believe that talks will provide solution to the issues... But we will decide our future course of action based on the outcome of the meeting," Malik told reporters here.

"If we reach agreement on all issues, I will inform you," he said on whether they will suspend the agitation.

Malik was accompanied by a group of 60-70 representatives of various khaps (sub-sects) of the Jat community. Besides Khattar, Union Cabinet Minister Birender Singh was among those present

Metro trains will not travel beyond the national capital's borders after 11.30 pm tonight, and 12 metro stations in central Delhi will be shut down from 8 pm onwards. (The 12 metro stations are Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan, Lok Kalyan Marg, Janpath, Mandi House, Barakhamba Road, R K Ashram Marg, Pragati Maidan, Khan Market and Shivaji stadium.)

Delhi Police, which reports to the home ministry, has also imposed section 144 across the national capital to prevent the Jats from conducting their march. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of more than four people.   

Delhi Police said it would also strictly vet the entry of people into Lutyens Delhi to prevent the entry of Jat marchers.

The All-India Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti (AIJASS), which is spearheading the agitation, has called on the Jats to march on Delhi tomorrow, to gherao Parliament, and to block entry points into the city.

The Jats are demanding reservations in government jobs and educational institutions. They are also calling for charges to be dropped against last year's agitators -- who were also demanding reservations -- and that government jobs be given to the next of kin of the men killed in last year's demonstrations. 

"Under no circumstances, any kind of dharna, violent protest will be allowed in Delhi. We have put adequate security and safety measures in place and tractor-trolleys will not be allowed to enter Delhi from border areas," said Dependra Pathak, chief spokesperson of Delhi Police and Special Commissioner of Police (Operations).

"All the checkings will be in place and there might be inconvenience for children and entrance exam aspirants. It is advised that those who are appearing for CBSE exams or for other entrance exams should keep a track of time," said Pathak. 

A three-tier security cover will be in place with 110 companies of external force assisting Delhi Police in maintaining vigil.

From 11 pm today, entry to Lutyens Delhi will be restricted and persons fulfilling certain criterion will only be allowed entry after proper verification and checking.

Bonafide residents, employees working in offices situated in Lutyens Delhi, emergency vehicles, entrance exam candidates, ambulance, hearse van, fire brigade, school buses and those who have come to the area for some work will only be allowed entry after furnishing proof, said another officer.

"New Delhi will not be used as transit point for people going from north to south Delhi or vice-versa. Commuters wishing to travel from south Delhi to central Delhi are advised to use Ring Road," said Delhi Traffic Police in an advisory.

Roads like Kamal Ataturk Marg, Safdarjung Road, Kautilya Marg, Kautilaya T Point Near Bihar Bhawan, route from Teen Murti to Gole Methi roundabout and Zakir Hussain Road for the commuters coming from Nizamuddin to India Gate will be closed from 8 PM onwards today.

Other routes between Ring Road and San Martin Marg, Amrita Shergill from Lodhi Road, Max Mueller Mag from Lodhi Road, Arch Bishop Macarious from Lodhi Road and all lanes leading to Panchkuia road except Mandir Marg, RK Ashram Marg and Hospital Road will be closed starting 11 PM today.

Ahead of the Jat protests, the Centre has asked police forces of Delhi and its neighbouring states to stop the agitators before they reach the borders of the capital.

In an advisory, the Union Home Ministry told Delhi Police and governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to invoke CrPC 144 to stop Jat protesters, who threatened to stage protests in Delhi demanding reservations in jobs and education, from reaching the national capital, official sources said.

Arrest or detain the protesters much before they enter Delhi, disallow movement of buses carrying the protesters on highways and ban tractor trolley movement, the advisory said.

Top Home Ministry officials also reviewed the security situation in the national capital and neighbouring states in the wake of threat by the Jats.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi took stock of the law and order situation in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on Wednesday with senior police officials of the four states.

He instructed the officials to ensure peace and prevent attempts to disrupt normal life during the protests.

(WION with inputs from PTI)