Cheer Haran is an attempt to peep into the psyche of Haryana in the aftermath of Jaat Reservation Agitation 2016. It’s an attempt to decipher the two words Jaat & Reservation and understand why the agitation, all of a sudden, turned horribly violent. Whether the brutality that occurred could have been averted?
It was during 1990 when, for the first time, I heard the term Reservation. TV, newspapers and magazines were overflowing with this term. Just like media, entire India had started appearing divided on the lines of recommendations of Mandal Commission, a committee established by then Prime Minister Mr. Morarji Desai during 1979 to identify socially or educationally backward casts and suggest ways and means to uplift them. For some reasons, best known to the authorities, recommendations made by this commission were overlooked for a decade which witnessed many socio-political upheavals and shift of power centers through democracy.
After defeating Congress, Janta Dal led by Mr. V.P. Singh had come to the power and it was during his tenure that recommendations made by Mandal Commission finally saw the light of the day. By the time anyone could ponder upon the ramifications of those recommendations, unparalleled strings of student protests had erupted all over the country. Students from general classes fortified against it and within no time the ones supporting it took to the streets as well. Clashes were countless, law and order condition throughout the country was in tatters. Attempt of self-immolation by Delhi University student Rajeev Goswami fanned it further. For a 13 year, old kid from a small remote village of Haryana, all this made no sense but ever since any pro or anti reservation news would draw my attention.
After a gap of some 23 years, around 2013, that village lad, now a grown-up man chasing his dream of becoming a film writer-director in the tinsel town of Mumbai, dealt with the terms Reservation and Mandal commission in depth while writing dialogues for a romantic movie set against the backdrop of Anti-Reservation agitation. Research for the project made me go into the details of Mandal commission and history of reservation. Constitution itself and successive governments had categorized the population into brackets of General, Schedule casts (SC), Schedule Tribes (ST) & Other Backward Casts (OBCs). For the first time, I realized what it meant. My country, appearing united, stands divided on the deep invisible lines of religion, casts and tribes.
In 2016, the news flashes captured nation's attention when a peaceful Jaat reservation agitation in Haryana turned violent after three protesting students were shot dead by police firing. Now this was no longer a reservation agitation. Within no time, it had exploded into a ghastly multi-party sectarian violence.
As per government records, 31 people lost their lives throughout the state, hundreds of cores of property got destroyed. Amidst all this devastation, there came a extremely disturbing news, from a small town named Murthal. It was alleged that many women were dragged out of their vehicles to the nearby fields and ganged raped. Because of the violence and such news reports the image of the entire state and its people got tarnished. Haryana was disrobed of its reputation of being a peaceful state.
People like me who despite residing outside, still find themselves attached to the state, were shocked because of such dismal affairs in Haryana. Friends from other regions would throw disturbing questions, how can they stoop so low? Does the prosperous Jaat community needs benefits of reservation? Why are the Jaats so hell bent on getting into the OBC list? Who are the real culprits of pushing a peace-loving state into violence? Many uncomfortable, unanswered questions like these disturbed not just me but thousands of us. I decided to search for the answers and my quest for truth resulted in this documentary.