CM holds talks with protesters

Closed-door parleys between Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the 41- member committee of the Sarvajatiya Sarvakhap Mahapanchayat were held today at the government rest house in Kaithal.

The talks ended late in the evening. Unofficial sources claimed the meeting was successful in breaking the impasse. But a formal announcement in this regard would be made by the committee at the main dharna site in Jind tomorrow, the sources said.

State PWD Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and former Congress MP Jai Prakash were also at the meeting. Earlier, Surjewala had held two rounds of talks with the Mahapanchayat but without any success.

A bus of the Haryana Roadways was torched by protesters near Singhvikhera village, near here, last night. Several educational institutions, including colleges and schools, were forced to close by student leaders supporting the stir. The people’s presence at the protest site today was overwhelming, claimed police sources. The protesters had threatened to observe Republic Day as black day in case their demands were not met. These included a fresh probe into the Mirchpur violence and shifting of the accused in the case back to a jail in Haryana.

Suresh Koth, convener of the mahapanchayat, said the support to the agitation had grown by the day with more and more representatives of various khaps and panchayats joining the protesters at the main dharna site in Julani village where the rail track has been blocked for the past 11 days.

Claiming that the stir had been totally peaceful, he said the government had no option but to accept their demands. Meanwhile, traffic on all main highways continued to be blocked today. Bus and train services remained suspended. Essential commodities were in short supply too. “The price rise in case of fruits and vegetables is at least 30 per cent in the wholesale market and almost its double in the retail,” said Vijender Saini, president of the Vegetable and Fruit Market Association, Fatehabad.

He said there had been no supply of fruits, tomatoes, onions, peas and other vegetables for the past four days, leading to an acute scarcity of these commodities. Saini said the vegetable and fruit dealers had lost almost 80 pc of their business due to the ongoing Jat agitation.

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