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Curfew in Jammu after violent protests: Valley celebrates

Curfew in Jammu after violent protests: Valley celebrates

Author: Mohit Kandhari/Khursheed Wani
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 2, 2008

The protests in Jammu took a violent turn on day two of the three-day-long bandh in which three BJP workers were critically injured in police firing in Muthi area. Embattled police force fired teargas shells and cane-charged demonstrators at several places in Jammu protesting against the rescinding of land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board before imposing curfew in parts of city to prevent assembly of large groups.

Till evening, the curfew was imposed in areas falling under seven police stations of Nowabad, Bakshi Nagar, Janipur, Peermitha, Pacca Danga, Domana and City police station. Earlier in the morning, these areas witnessed violent clashes throughout the day in which scores of activists of saffron brigade and policemen were injured. Police also made preventive arrests even as overall situation in the city remained tense throughout the day. Angry mob also torched police post Jatwal in Samba district after organising protests and raising road blocks on Jammu-Pathankot highway.

Meanwhile, the Action Committee against Land Transfer (ACALT) called off strike in the Valley following the cancellation of controversial land transfer order by the State Cabinet. The committee, which was formed last month to resist the land transfer, asked the people to rejoice and celebrate. "This is our first victory. I announce to call off the strike and urge the people to celebrate the victory", ACALT chairman Mian Abdul Qayoom said at a press conference in Srinagar.

In Jammu, Congress MP Lal Singh had to face the ire of agitators as one of his security officers manhandled local residents and exchanged hot words. His motorcade was stoned before he managed to escape. Reports reaching here from other districts in Jammu province said similar protest demonstrations were organised by BJP supporters in Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch amid complete shutdown in the region.

The routine life continued to remain standstill and crippled in the wake of wheel-jam in Jammu. The city wore a deserted look and private vehicles remained off the road.

The silent protest on Jammu-Akhnoor road took a violent turn when police force brutally crushed the demonstrators and then opened fire on angry mob of workers in Muthi area injuring three BJP workers. The condition of one of them was stated to be critical. Two policemen had to face the fury of angry mob as they were held hostage for some time and severely thrashed. Profusely bleeding cops were timely rescued by local residents from the custody of angry mob and handed over to the police who later rushed them to the hospital.

Large number of migrants living in the area also organised protest demonstrations and shouted slogans against the State Government's decision to cancel the land transfer order. As the day progressed and news of the Cabinet decision revoking land transfer order was flashed on television screens, the district administration as a preventive step imposed section 144 in Jammu and also clamped curfew in sensitive areas. The security situation was reviewed by divisional commissioner at a high-level meeting before imposing indefinite curfew, official sources said. Public address system fitted on top of police vehicles directed people to stay indoors to prevent any untoward incident.

Significantly, large number of women and children also participated in the violent protests across Jammu, which continued on the second consecutive day. The entire Jammu region is witnessing complete shut down since Monday in response to the 72-hour bandh call. Meanwhile, joining the protests the members of State oil tankers association have decided to discontinue the regular supply of oil and petroleum products to Srinagar.

"We were continuously supplying petroleum products to the Valley despite agitation but the protesters ransacked and damaged the windowpanes of tankers, which forced us to cut off from the Valley, J&K Oil Tankers Association General Secretary Devinder Singh said.

Singh said there would be no supply of petroleum products and tankers would not ply on the road unless normalcy is restored in the Valley. Large number of pilgrims and tourists arriving in the State's winter capital continue to face many hardships as they are stranded at different places due to unprecedented bandh.

In Srinagar, J&K Governor NN Vohra has summoned a special session of the legislative assembly on July 7 in order to test strength of the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led coalition Government.

Earlier, the Cabinet cancelled the one-month-old controversial order that diverted 39.88 hectares of forest land to SASB. However, the Government would make land available to the State tourism department to raise facilities for pilgrims at locations from Jammu to the holy Amarnath Cave through both routes of Baltal-Domail and Pahalgam.

In effect, the Cabinet has transferred the entire responsibility of the yatra to the tourism department reducing the SASB to rituals and performance of puja at the cave shrine.

Pushing Jammu-based Congress leaders to the wall, the State unit of the BJP on Tuesday strongly reacted to the cancellation of land transfer order. "This amounts to complete surrender of the Jammu-based Congress leaders before the anti-national and Islamic forces active in Kashmir". BJP opposes this decision as the same was taken by the Chief Minister who is running a minority Government, State BJP chief Ashok Khajuria told mediapersons at a hurriedly called press conference at party headquarters in Jammu.

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