50 hurt in Jammu violence; call for civil disobedience (Second lead)

August 20th, 2008 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Aug 20 (IANS) Rampaging mobs in this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir torched government buildings, including a police post, and repeatedly clashed with security forces on the final day of their court arrest campaign Wednesday. At least 50 people were injured.Meanwhile, the organisation leading the protests against the denial of land to the Amarnath shrine in the Valley called for a civil disobedience movement against the state government and asked the people not to pay taxes or electricity and water tariffs.

The agitators set ablaze a portion of the Sarwal police post and a government residential building opposite Gandhi Nagar police station.

At least 50 people, including a dozen policemen, were injured in the clashes between the police and stone throwing mobs in several parts of Jammu city and the border town of Akhnoor.

At many places, children led by parents forced their entry into the police stations and offered themselves for arrest.

Late Tuesday evening, the authorities had warned the people not to allow their children to come out to court arrest. “This is illegal,” said an official spokesman.

The warning, however, failed to deter the protesters and on Wednesday, children and their parents carrying tricolours in their hands, marched toward police stations chanting “Bam Bam Bhole”.

There was no let up in the violence despite curfew and army on the streets. Curfew was clamped Tuesday night on the entire Jammu city that has a population of one million. Army has been called out to keep the situation under control.

At some places, the agitators roamed freely.

The police fired teargas shells at many places, but that failed to deter the protesters.

The state government had transferred a 40-hectare plot of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board but later withdrew this following protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. The revocation July 1 ignited an agitation in the Hindu majority Jammu region.

The Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti, spearheading the agitation for the past nearly two months, had given a call for a three-day programme of “jail bharo” or courting arrest, and Wednesday was the turn of children after men courted arrest Monday and women Tuesday.

Over 350,000 people had offered themselves for arrest, according to a spokesman of Sangarsh Samiti, while the official estimates put it slightly less than 100,000.

The samiti said its civil disobedience call had become imperative since the government had not paid heed to the demands of the Jammu region. Instead, the government had launched a campaign to victimize the people of the region and insulted Hindu sentiments by using “brute force against the peaceful protestors”.

Samiti spokesperson Narinder Singh said it had also called for a “funeral procession” of the central government Thursday.

There would be another march for rights Saturday, while a traffic blockade would be imposed all over the Jammu region Sunday.

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