Adjacent to a gutted shop, Hemant waits for us. This class 12 pass-out, holds the Jat community guilty for the murder of his father. They jumped into his house, dragged his father, Sham Saini, an office assistant in PWD, beat him with lathis and finally axed him. “Farse se kamar kaat diya aur fir sar faad diya (they axed his waist and finally bashed his skull in),” says his widow. Hemant recalls, “I called ambulance but they asked me to call the police first. ‘Medical is closed’ responded the police. We had to carry him on a rickshaw to the hospital but he died on the way.”
Rioters left behind a trail of destruction in each house that they entered; not a single piece of furniture or electronic appliance was left. The nature of violence was so bizarre that not even washbasins and toilet seats were not spared. “Bathroom mein reservation doondh rahe the, kya yahan rakha hai aarakshan (Is reservation stored in the toilet seats?),” asks Amit Saini. His house was looted and then burned. Amit even found a couple of bullets outside his house.
Barely 500 metres ahead, is Krishan Saini’s house. He was axed down by the rioters while returning from the fields. His son Harish, who rushed to save him from the mob lost consciousness when they opened fire on him. He still has 18 pellets fired from countrymade guns lodged in his back. Om Prakash, a mechanic, from the nearby locality was also axed to death by the mob. The victims even alleged that the hospitals responded in a biased manner by giving preference in treatment to Jats.
Locals believe that whatever happened in Jhajjar was meticulously planned. On 20 February, when the violence sparked off it was restricted to the market area. “Rumours started doing the rounds that 18-20 Jats were burnt alive inside Chottu Ram Dharamshala, a Jat community building,” says Jhajjar SP Sumit Kumar.
All hell broke loose by the time the rumours spread. When asked about reports of police inaction, Kumar says, “Two rioters were shot down in Saini Mohalla and two more were shot by police. The situation could not be controlled as the numbers of the mobs overwhelmed the deployed police and army personnels.” Defending the Haryana Police and the government, he further adds that it is easy to put the blame on them but the government had issued enough directions on its part.
Back in Murthal, where the police is still investigating into at least 10 cases of alleged rape and several molestation cases, a member of the forensic team says, “Samples recovered from the ground do not confirm rape reports.” However, a woman from Delhi’s Narela locality had filed a complaint of gang rape against seven men, including her brother-in-law. With several versions coming out and backtracking of witnesses, this Tehelka correspondent met at least three persons, who said the reports of rape are true.
The staff at the Amrik Shukhdev Dhaba, near which the torn clothes and under garments of the alleged victims were recovered; say that they attended to people in distress. “We helped a couple whose car was torched in the wee hours. But they didn’t speak of any such incident,” says the shift in-charge. Over 60 customers were stranded inside the Dhaba, from Friday night to Monday morning until two police vans escorted them out of Haryana.
On condition of anonymity two employees of the eatery say, “We kept hearing about such incidents through Saturday to Monday. Don’t say that there are mere possibilities, such incidents have certainly occurred here.” A truck driver, Pawan from Ludhiana, who was stuck on the highway says, “Incidents of looting did happen but I do not know about any rapes. We hid a bus full of family and kids coming from Jammu between our trucks.”
Amidst all this, the engineering college IITM and Jurasik Park Inn (an amusement park), stand gutted. IITM is run by the brother of Sonepat BJP MP Ramesh Kaushik, a probable reason why Jats ensured that nothing was left undamaged in the premises. Students were asked to restrict themselves to hostel rooms and guards were locked in the power house while a mob torched the generator outside.