NEW DELHI: Three Malaysians survived a scary drive through several towns in Haryana state where 19 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in nine days of rioting by protesting members of the Jat community.
J. Nagaraja, 41, a senior technical manager with an Indian timber company, his 67-year-old mother who was visiting northern India for the first time, and one of his colleagues kept praying on the 220-km trip Sunday from New Delhi to Behror in Rajasthan.
They had relied on Google maps in finding alternative routes through villages to reach their destination after a six-hour journey that would have normally taken just two hours, said Nagaraja who hails from Ipoh in Malaysia.
He said he picked up his mother at the airport and they stayed at a hotel here before starting on the journey to Behror where he worked.
“We had to travel about 220km, crossing some of the worst-hit towns in Haryana before entering the state of Rajasthan,” he recalled.
He said that immediately after Gurgaon, the city bordering New Delhi, he saw roadblocks along the national highway.
After travelling for a few kilometres, they were advised by the police to take a diversion.
“We were forced to use village roads and we were lucky that Google maps assisted us in getting through alternative routes before arriving at our home.
“My mother was so terrified and kept praying for a safe journey. We saw heavy presence of the police with riot gear along the routes we used,” Nagaraja said.
He said he believed confessed that their brief stop at a temple in New Delhi gave them the strength to continue the journey.
“With reports of looting and attacks on government buildings, we were too scared to take shelter at any hotel along our way.
“Now, I have to monitor the developments in Haryana because we need to make a return journey on Wednesday as my mother and I plan to fly to Bengaluru,” he said, expressing doubts as to whether the situation would improve by then.
The Jat community is demanding quotas be set for Jats for highly sought-after government jobs and for university places. It claims that Jats are struggling to find places despite India’s strong economic growth.
Meanwhile, Malaysian High Commissioner Datuk Naimun Ashakli Mohammad said his officers were monitoring the situation closely and advised Malaysians in New Delhi and Haryana to take all precautionary steps if they had to travel.
“We have already advised them to constantly stay in touch with our mission and avoid areas affected by the riots,” he said. -- Bernama