Youth’s suicide sets off fresh trouble in Jammu (Lead)

July 23rd, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, July 23 (IANS) A fresh wave of protests swept Jammu after a youth committed suicide Wednesday afternoon, saying that he was sacrificing his life for restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Soon after the news spread of Kuldip Kumar Dogra of Talab Tillo locality committed suicide at Parade ground here, shopkeepers lowered shutters, people took to the streets and burnt tyres and held noisy demonstrations against the government.

Police personnel have been deployed all across Jammu city to ensure that the situation doesn’t spiral out of control.

“We are keeping a watch over the situation,” S. Pandey, divisional commissioner of Jammu, told newspersons.

A probe has been ordered into Kuldip’s death.

Kuldip, in his late 20s, appeared at Parade Ground in Jammu city, the state’s winter capital, where activists of the Amarnath Yatra Sangarash Samiti (AYSS) were on a hunger strike.

Dogra made an emotional speech to the gathering that the revocation of the revocation of the land transfer to the shrine board had made him desperate. He said he was “sacrificing my life for the cause”, eyewitnesses told reporters.

Kuldip, who allegedly had consumed some poisonous substance before he made the speech, fell unconscious. He was taken to a hospital where the doctors pronounced him dead, the police said.

AYSS is demanding the allocation of nearly 40 hectares of forestland to the SASB, which was first diverted to the shrine board May 26 for setting up temporary prefabricated structures for pilgrims to the cave shrine in south Kashmir.

But the issue triggered massive protests in Kashmir. Protesters in the Muslim-majority region charged the land would be used to settle outsiders and change the demographic character of Kashmir.

The government rescinded the order July 1. This silenced the street protests in the Kashmir Valley but ignited a counter-agitation in the Jammu region, where protesters are still demanding allotment of the plot to the shrine board.

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