Deal Reached to End Indian Caste Protests

By Reuters 23 February 2016

NEW DELHI — Members of a rural Indian caste reached a deal late on Monday to end their protests that paralyzed the north Indian state of Haryana and cut water supplies to Delhi’s 20 million residents, a protest leader and a police source said.

A Jat community leader said protesters had reached an accord with state and federal leaders and would clear road blockades and end their agitation, in which 16 people have been killed and more than 150 injured.

“The government has promised to meet our demands and we have promised our full cooperation,” Ramesh Dalal, convener of the Jat Arakshan Andolan (Jat Reservation Movement), told Reuters.

Dalal said he had appealed to the entire Jat community, which makes up around a quarter of the population of Haryana, to return home after staging state-wide protests to demand more government jobs and college places.

A senior police officer said that state leaders had persuaded the Jats to call off their protests. “Our challenge is to keep the law and order situation under control,” the officer said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Days of rioting and looting by Jats had challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of better days for Indians who elected him in 2014 with the largest majority in three decades.