In a first of its kind and the worst ever violence during Jat agitation in the state of Haryana recently, while it is a story of pain and anguish, staff of some of the prominent restaurants on the busy national highway turned out to be good Samaritans saving hundreds of lives. They went beyond their usual hospitality by offering free stay and food to those who were stuck inside.
A frequent traveller is well acquainted with the famous Haveli in Murthal which is a favourite among the people for its delicacies in pure Punjabi flavour. There were over 40 guests who had to stay inside the palatial Punjabi restaurant which had never in its existence of 8 years seen such a dangerous situation.
“We had over 40 guests on February 20th when around 11:30 am our staff noticed over 500 people getting together and had started blocking the highway”, said Mohak Jain, owner of Haveli.
“The area SHO came over and warned us to ask all the guests to leave as the situation was turning dangerous because of rioting crowds approaching the area. Our staff however didn’t do that and instead cleared the entire area from cars parked there so that the unruly crowds do not torch them and keeping the safety of our guests as priority, asked the people to stay inside”, he added.
Jain added since the situation only turned bad to worse the guests were fed with meals inside and were asked to sleep on couches provided inside the restaurant till the situation turned safe enough to move out. However by next morning at 7 am the restaurant had over 200 more panic-stricken guests seeking shelter at Haveli.
“We looked after them as threat to their lives was looming large outside”, he said, adding, the nearby villagers came to our rescue and when we were close to being attacked they thwarted the attempt of rioting mob to do so. Even the villagers who guarded the property were provided with food as they religiously made it sure no harm was done to the people inside.
Even the army had by that time taken over and prevented any mishap. Other eateries on the highway where several families were stuck, were also saved from the tragedy because of timely intervention preventing the unruly mob from running amok and attacking the innocent people.
Manjit Singh Sarang, Director, Punjab and Sind Bank was going from Chandigarh to Delhi along with his colleagues for a meeting when on their way they stopped over at Haveli at 8:30 am on Saturday. They were informed there that there was some trouble ahead and the road had been blocked.
“I had never in my life seen national highway being blocked, but on the advice of the restaurant staff we decided to stay back. We were told to remove our vehicles from the front and park them behind the restaurant building. The staff there ensured we were fed properly and we were told there was nothing to worry as the 150-strong staff stood outside guarding us”, said Sarang.
He added all those stuck inside were told to eat whatever they wanted to and were allowed all services including stay without any cost. “At a time when airlines were fleecing people with inflated costs, it was heartening to see the gesture of Haveli staff, which refused to even accept money when offered by us”, he added.
The restaurant was on that traumatic night locked from outside and the lights were switched off so that the mob doesn’t know there were people inside. Even when there was fear that the mob was approaching, later it brought relief to guests that the mob had moved towards Sonipat. The next day Sarang and his colleagues noticed traffic coming from Chandigarh and managed to come back safely. He however complained the police failed provide any security to the people.