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We will always work for social reforms

Shiv Rawal | New Delhi |

Since 2010, Yashpal Malik has been the face of the Jat agitation for other backward class (OBC) reservation in Haryana. Hailing from an agricultural family in Kharar village of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, Malik founded the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) in 2009 to raise issues of the community.Within no time, Malik’s aggressive attitude gained popularity among Haryana’s Jat youth and his call for an agitation got tremendous response. Malik spoke to Shiv Rawal over phone about his future plans which include educational and social reforms once the Jat agitation for reservation is over. Excerpts:

Q: You called off the latest Jat agitation in March 2017 after holding talks with the Manohar Lal Khattar government which is now looking into your demands. How hopeful are you of the issue getting resolved this time?

A: The meetings of the committee formed by the government are going on positively and the target is to finalise things by the end of May. The attitude of the state government seems positive this time and we are hopeful of some constructive output this month.

Q: During the Jat agitation in 2016, the protest turned violent and it led to killings, clashes, alleged rapes, molestation and burning of property on a large scale. Now members of the Jat community have sought review of cases registered against the protestors. How do you justify this demand?

A: See, this was not the only agitation that witnessed violence as protests had taken place during the previous regimes also and turned violent too. That does not mean that Jats were involved in all those movements. There were so many forces working against the agitating Jat community that the protests could turn violent. For example, the BJP's Kurukshetra MP Rajkumar Saini and Karnal MP Ashwani Chopra were speaking against Jats to incite agitators and the state government failed to keep a check on them. It was a conspiracy. The most important point is that we have not sought jobs and compensation only for the kin of the deceased belonging to the Jat community, but for all (Jats and non-Jats) those whose family members lost their lives during the agitation. Secondly, there have been instances in the past when the government withdrew cases against agitators as was the case during the Patel agitation. What is wrong if we are asking for a review of cases registered against Jats?

Q: It has been alleged that the agitation headed by you was in fact controlled by Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda and it was purely an anti-BJP and anti-Khattar movement. What is your take on this?

A: Such allegations are baseless. Jats were protesting for OBC quota even during the Hooda regime and killings took place then too. If it was inspired or controlled by Hooda, then why would we have protested during his rule. Moreover, this was not anti-BJP or anti-Khattar; we had been protesting for OBC reservation even when the BJP was not in power in Haryana. We are fighting for our right and not to oppose anybody's rule.

Q: You have always been tagged as an 'outsider' in Haryana. Your detractors have said that you have no importance in your native state, Uttar Pradesh, but took advantage of Haryana's Jats who have been fighting to get OBC status for long. Your take.

A: I have responded to this question earlier also. Such a big agitation was going on but only regional media telecast it. The national media did not telecast the movement going on in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and other parts of the country in support of Haryana's Jats, and ultimately it gave a chance to some so-called intellectuals to claim that Yashpal Malik has no significance in UP or any place outside Haryana. If it was so, then why did Jats from the entire National Capital Region reach the Delhi border to seal it? My critics must understand that it is for the first time after Chaudhary Chhotu Ram, Devi Lal and Charan Singh that Jats from across the region have shown unity.

Q: Let's assume that the issue relating to backward classes quota for Haryana's Jats is sorted out. What will your organisation do then?

A. We will continue to work for social reforms in society. I am a follower of Chaudhary Chhotu Ram and committed to work under his vision as a social activist. In past decades, politics has harmed social harmony. We will play a constructive role for educational and social reforms to inspire others too.

Q. As you are a popular leader now, are you thinking of joining politics?

A. From the very beginning, I have been denying it. Politics is not my destination like others. Rather, I have decided to do something in the field of education for my community and for this, we have decided to establish the Chaudhary Chhotu Ram Centre for competitive exams and skill development. It will start from Rohtak in Haryana and other states too would have centres. The proposed institutes will provide coaching for a nominal fee and the final draft would be prepared by the end of June.