By Kritika Dagar
It has been almost a year now since Jat reservation agitation in Haryana has gained momentum yet again. But does the demand of Akhil Bhartiya Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) to include Jats in the the central OBC list has any merit? Read on to find out how the movement evolved.
Before I begin, here are a few facts about the community:
Jats are primarily an agricultural community in North India.
In Haryana they are the dominant group, forming 27% of the electorate, hence politically influential.
How Did This Demand Begin?
1. 1991– Gurnam Commission report recommended inclusion of Jats in Backward classes. However, this was not implemented by the then Haryana government.
2. 1997– National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) report did not find Jats to be backward (except for Rajasthan Jats who were given OBC quota).
3. 2012– KC Gupta Commission recommended the inclusion of Jats and four other castes in the category of Special Backward Classes (SBC). Being the poll promise of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the state government gave 10% reservation to SBC’s in Haryana.
4. As Haryana had already filled the 50% cap on reservation by giving 27% to OBC’s, 20% to SC/ST’s and 3% to disabled, the Supreme Court withdrew it.
5. 2014– Just before the next election, UPA government in Haryana issued notification of OBC reservation to Jats, as a strategic move in the political chessboard.
6. 2015– This was scrapped by Supreme Court citing that Jats are backward only educationally, not socially. The court also observed that the KC Gupta report was biased as it included 2 members from castes under consideration and did not study the representation of Jats in armed forces.
Is The Demand Justified?
According to the NCBC report and Supreme Court– NO!
The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) observed that they have adequate representation in armed forces, government jobs (especially in lower classes) and in educational institutions.
Hence, they are not entitled to an OBC quota.
The primary occupation of Jats is still farming. So, discontentment is expected as over time their landholdings have fallen due to division of land among children and land acquisition by government.
Also they claim when castes like Yadavs, Sainis, Gujjars and Lodhas – which are on the same footing – can get reservation, then why can’t they?
But Supreme Court does not accept comparisons as a ground for inclusion in OBC.
Jat stir has brought to the fore, the issue of reservation again. We find ourselves asking again – Is it time we reconsider reservation?
Taking away distributed gifts would surely be hard for any political party.
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