50 injured in Jammu violence (Lead)

July 26th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, July 26 (IANS) More than 50 people, including at least a dozen policemen, were injured in day-long clashes here Saturday between the police and protesters demanding the restoration of land to the Amarnath shrine authorities. Violent clashes continued till late in the evening, even as those spearheading the agitation extended the general strike by another 24 hours - till Monday evening instead of Sunday evening.

Furious mobs and police clashed at Muthi, Bishnah, Purani Mandi, Parade Ground, and several other places in which baton charge, teargas and heavy shower of stones continued for several hours during the day.

“More than 50 people are injured and at least a dozen of them are policemen,” a police official said.

The condition of one of them, identified as Bashir Ahmad, was stated to be critical.

A mob had barged into a police post in Muthi after throwing stones and beat up policemen. Police had to lob several teargas shells and resort to baton charge to disperse the mob. But the angry protesters set three vehicles on fire.

Mobs who had taken control of streets also torched effigies of National Conference president Omar Abdullah and former chief ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

They also raised slogans against the Governor N.N. Vohra and torched his effigies as well.

The city observed a complete shutdown for the third consecutive day Saturday as business, commercial establishments and educational institutes remained closed, and traffic was off the roads.

The violent protests over the Amarnath land row picked up after Kuldip Kumar Dogra allegedly committed suicide Wednesday saying he was “sacrficing his life for the cause” of Amarnath land return.

The protests had given way to black flag demonstrations and signature campaign for the re-allotment of the 40 acres of forest land in north Kashmir that was first allotted to the shrine board May 26 and then cancelled July 1.

The land was first allotted for raising temporary prefabricated structures for Amarnath pilgrims, who trek to reach a cave shrine in south Kashmir, housing a ‘lingam’ or a stalagmite structure, which is seen as an icon of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity.

The original allotment, at an altitude of 3,888 metres, was at the centre of the 10-day-long street protests in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. The rescinding of the order July 1 quietened the valley protests but triggered off a counter agitation in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

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