Curfew lifted, but life remains paralysed in Jammu (Lead)

July 29th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, July 29 (IANS) Despite curfew being lifted from here Tuesday, life remained paralysed in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir due to a shutdown for the sixth consecutive day in protest against the Amarnath land transfer order revocation. The shutdown is being observed in response to a call by Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (AYSS), a conglomerate of some 30 Hindu groups spearheading a campaign for allocation of 40 hectares of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) in north Kashmir.

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 Muthi and its adjoining areas in the suburbs of Jammu where police entered homes and beat people, eyewitnesses say.

They said women and children too became target of police beatings.

The areas have been among the most volatile in the ongoing agitation in Jammu region, which has been reeling under curfew, shutdown and violent protests for almost a month now.

The restrictions were lifted but heavy police presence to “avert any untoward incident” 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.

“We hope that the situation stays normal,” he said, adding the police would be present in adequate strength in sensitive places. “We don’t want any untoward incident.”

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

The allotment of the 40-acre plot by the government to the shrine board May 26 was withdrawn July 1 following massive nine-day long street protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. Kashmiris feared that the plot would be used to settle Hindus and change the Muslim majority character of the valley.

But the government decision to revoke the land allotment order ignited a furious response in Hindu-majority Jammu, where people felt that their religious sentiments have been hurt and the “government had succumbed to pressure of secessionist forces”.

However, the AYSS has agreed to a dialogue with the government.

“Let there be a proper invite from the government in black and white as to what are they offering. Then we would be willing to sit across the table,” Leela Karan Sharma, convenor of the AYSS, told reporters.

The government ordered a judicial probe into the alleged disrespect to the body of Kuldip Kumar Dogra, who committed suicide for the “cause of the land to the shrine board” July 23.

It was alleged that the police violated religious traditions while trying to cremate Dogra’s body July 24.

The government has also ordered transfer of some senior police officers in Jammu.

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