Jammu unrest reaches Delhi, Kashmiri Hindus clash with police

August 2nd, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Hundreds of Kashmiri Hindus backed by political parties clashed with police in the capital Saturday while holding a rally to pledge support to activists in Jammu protesting the killings of two people and revocation of the land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board. Around 3,000 people of all age groups gathered at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital and proceeded towards Parliament House, but were stopped by police officials near the Parliament Street police station there.

When the protesters tried to remove the barriers put up to stop them, the police fired water cannons and baton charged the crowd. According to the protesters, nearly 15 people were injured in the clash.

“We condemn the indefinite curfew and the shoot-at-sight orders on peaceful protesters in Jammu and its outskirts. Governor N.N. Vohra along with his people is trying to crush the entire movement initiated by the common citizens of Jammu against the communal and discriminatory policies of the state government,” said Aditya Raj Kaul, one of the protesters.

“It is a direct attack on the freedom of press and a human rights violation by the state. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) needs to intervene immediately,” Kaul added.

Rahul Sharma, another activist, said: “We immediately demand re-allocation of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board and removal of Governor Vohra.”

The protest was organised by the Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti along with various other civil society organisations and Kashmiri Hindu frontline groups such as Roots In Kashmir, Panun Kashmir, JKNDF and Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch.

Kaul said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and many cultural, social and political outfits in the capital supported the protest.

The protesters warned of intensifying their movement in the coming days.

Unrest begin in Kashmir after the state government allotted 40 hectares of forest land in north Kashmir to the Amarnath Shrine Board May 26 for creating “temporary and pre-fabricated” shelters for Hindu pilgrims to the Amarnath cave shrine.

The order was revoked July 1 following violent protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, in which six people were killed. The protesters alleged that the land would be used to settle outsiders and change the Muslim-majority character of the valley.

The revocation order silenced the protests in Kashmir but ignited demonstrations in the Hindu-majority Jammu region, which has been reeling under curfews, shutdowns and violent protests for more than a month now. The violence has claimed five lives.

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