Widespread caste protests in the northern Indian state of Haryana severely hit water supplies to the national capital, New Delhi, Sunday and forced industries to close. On Saturday, the Indian army sent more than 3,000 troops to contain the violence that has claimed 10 lives until now.
Protests by the Jats, a rural caste, in the past week are centered on the community’s long-standing demand to allocate a quota for the community in government jobs and educational openings in India. The protests turned violent Friday as a person was killed near Maharshi Dayanand University in the town of Rohtak — the epicenter of the protest. Rohtak is about 50 miles from New Delhi.
About 60 percent of New Delhi’s water supply was expected to be hit Sunday as violent protesters vandalized operations at Munak canal that transports water from Haryana to Delhi, according to local news network NDTV. With supply likely to be hit in all parts of the city, the Delhi government ordered schools and government offices to shut on Monday, to ensure enough supplies for army and government installations, emergency services and hospitals.
"Have directed all schools to be closed tomorrow due to water crisis. No water available now. Still no hope to get it," Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in a tweet Sunday morning.
Despite various political leaders including Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda requesting the protesters to maintain calm and peace, incidents of violence and arson continued late through Saturday in various parts of the state.
Meanwhile, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, India's biggest carmaker by sales, suspended operations at its auto plants in northern India after protests disrupted the supply of some components. The company said in a statement issued Saturday that it has temporarily halted production at its Manesar and Gurgaon plants in Haryana that produce a combined 5,000 vehicles daily.
The carmaker said it was in the process of finding other suppliers not affected by the protests, but did not mention a date for the resumption of operations in the state. Protesters have also reportedly burnt down a milk factory in Rohtak city, about 150 miles south of the state capital Chandigarh.
The Jat community in the state is demanding legislation that would classify it as Other Backward Class (OBC), a collective term used by the Indian government to describe "socially and educationally backward classes of people." Leaders of the community are expected to meet India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh Sunday to try to work out a solution.