Another Jammu youth attempts suicide on land row(Second Lead)

July 29th, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, July 29 (IANS) A youth in a border town here attempted suicide to press the state government to restore allotment of land near the Amarnath cave shrine to the temple trust. This is the second suicide bid over the issue that has rocked the Jammu and Kashmir since last month. Kuljeet Singh Choudhary, in his 20s, consumed poison while on a sit-in to protest the revocation of the land allocation order. Choudhary was rushed to a hospital, where his condition was stated to be critical, according to reports.

Officials, however, were tight-lipped over the issue.

The government May 26 allotted 40 hectares of forest land in north Kashmir to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for creating “temporary and pre-fabricated” shelters for Hindu pilgrims of Amarnath cave temple in south Kashmir.

But the order was revoked July 1 after people in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley took to streets with violent protests, in which six people were killed. They were alleging that the land would be used to settle outsiders and change the Muslim-majority character of the valley.

The revocation orders silenced the Kashmir protests but ignited demonstrations in the Hindu-majority Jammu region, which has been reeling under curfews, shutdowns and violent protests for the past one month now.

The news of the attempted suicide brought the people onto the Jammu-Pathankote Highway. They threw stones at the police and fought pitched battles with them, sources here said.

Earlier July 23, Kudip Kumar Dogra allegedly consumed some poisonous substance for, what he wrote in a purported suicide note, “the cause of the land restoration to the (Amarnath) shrine board.” He died in hospital later.

Dogra’s suicide re-ignited the agitation which was then ebbing from violent protests and shutdowns to black flag demonstrations, banging of utensils and signature campaigns.

Normal life in the the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir remained crippled Tuesday due to a shutdown for the sixth consecutive day in protest against the land transfer row.

The shutdown is being observed in response to a call by the Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (AYSS), a conglomerate of some 30 Hindu groups spearheading the campaign for re-allocation of the land to the SASB.

All shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed and traffic was off the roads in response to the shutdown call, which has been extended till Thursday by the AYSS.

The AYSS is also protesting the alleged police brutalities in some Jammu areas, which have been among the most volatile in the ongoing agitation.

Heavy police presence to “avert any untoward incident” also continued in many parts of Jammu.

“Curfew has been lifted from the entire city. No part of the Jammu zone is under restrictions now,” divisional commissioner S. Pandey told IANS.

Curfew was clamped on Jammu city Monday after violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

Violent protests erupted Tuesday in Udhampur, Vijaypur, Muthi, Akhnoor and Bishan areas, where the police used force to disperse the stone throwing groups of youth.

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