12 Amarnath activists injured in clashes with police (Lead)

September 20th, 2008 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Sep 20 (IANS) Over 12 activists of the Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) were injured in clashes with police here Saturday at an event to honour those killed during the two-month-long agitation for allocation of about 40 hectares of land in Kashmir to the board that runs the Hindu shrine.SASS had booked Abhinav theatre - a government auditorium - for a function to pay homage to those killed during the agitation in Hindu majority Jammu region. The police had thrown a cordon around the venue.

“The Abhinav theatre management had cancelled the SASS booking and we feared that the activists would use force to enter the premises,” a police official said.

The clashes between police and SASS activists followed after the latter tried to barge into the auditorium by breaking the police cordon. The police baton charged the crowd, lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air to disperse them. Over a dozen activists were injured in the clashes.

Leela Karan Sharma, the convener of SASS, said: “We have given a call for a shutdown on Sunday and Monday to protest the high handedness of the administration.”

On May 26, the state government diverted 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath shrine board in the valley, prompting widespread protests in Kashmir. This was revoked on July 1, quietening Kashmir but triggering protests in Jammu instead. What followed were days of curfew and shutdowns that snowballed into the state being polarised between Jammu and Kashmir.

On Aug 31 the government attempted a settlement by setting aside the land for the Amarnath board but specifying that it was only for the duration of the annual pilgrimage.

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