23 September, 2020

A Farm Twist To Caste Power

Jats queer the agitation pitch, tapping into agrarian discontent to forge alliances across states and castes

Old (DIS)order
A Jat protest in Delhi, March 3
Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
A Farm Twist To Caste Power

Haryana’s Jats have donned the agitator’s hats again, gather­ing in Rohtak, Jhajjar, Hisar and Jind, in large numbers. While the wheat crop ripens, the Jat peasantry, relatively free until the April harvest, is drawing up plans to besiege Delhi. Led by a new generation of pro-reservation leaders, the Jats are sure they aren’t going home until cases filed against their “boys” during last year’s agitation are withdrawn.

The bluster comes from the newfound cross-state camaraderie Haryana’s Jats have forged with their caste fellows from Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere. Jats from UP and Madhya Pradesh as well as Bharatpur and Dholpur in Rajasthan, where they are excluded from reservations, regularly attend the protests. The Jats’ actions are sending out the message that they are a community with plenty of regional clout. They are a quarter of Haryana’s population and their political influence on neighbouring UP is quite disproportionate to their two per cent share in the population there.

Although Haryana’s...



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