Delhi Jal Board officials said if water supply to the Bhagirathi and Sonia Vihar treatment plants was not restored soon, large parts of Delhi would face acute water shortage. Taps in east and south Delhi are likely to run dry from 4pm on Monday. Together, the two plants have a capacity of nearly 250 million gallons per day (MGD).
Shouting slogans of ‘‘Jat tu halla bol...’’, protesters marched to the Ganga canal bank and lowered the sluice gates of Bhagirathi and Sonia Vihar regulatories to snap raw water supply. Calling it a trailer, the 10,000-strong mob threatened to disrupt the Commonwealth Games if their demand was not met
Though the police and district administration said they were aware of the mahapanchayat, they could not stop the protesters in time. No action was taken though Jat leaders exhorted protesters to cut off water supply half an hour before the mob converged at the canal. ‘‘We did not know of their plan to disrupt the water supply. We are negotiating with them,’’ said Satish Kumar, additional district magistrate of Ghaziabad.
Though a few armed policemen had been deployed at the canal, they were outnumbered by the protesters as they proceed to seize the water regulatory. The SSP arrived at the spot almost an hour after the protesters had completely taken over the area; the district magistrate was the last to reach, almost two hours after the incident.
By early Sunday evening, the agitators had completely taken control of the canal bank. ‘‘This portion has now become a Jat land. We request police to move to the other side of the canal. We will stay here until our demand is met... Let Delhi face the thirst,’’ announced one of the protesters.
Earlier in the day, Yaspal Mallik, convener of the All India Jat Reservation Sangharsh Samiti, said they could stop water supply to Delhi both from Haryana and UP. ‘‘We have already given enough warnings to the central government. They don’t listen to us unless we hurt them. With the community’s permission and support, we should be ready to take all possible extreme steps,’’ he said.
Negotiation with the protesters was on till late Sunday night but there was little sign of a resolution as Mallik urged the protesters to ‘‘get farmers’ arms and be ready for a longer struggle’’.
Jats have been demanding their inclusion under OBC category in order to get reservation in central jobs. ‘‘With the land share shrinking, we have no other option than ensuring our educated youth gets jobs. We want to take Jats out of the world of farming,’’ said S P Singh Parihar, vicepresident of the Samiti.