Curfew imposed in Jammu after suicide over Amarnath land row

July 24th, 2008 - 10:54 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, July 24 (IANS) An indefinite curfew was imposed here Thursday to prevent violence a day after a man committed suicide to protest the cancellation of land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), police said. Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Sudhanshu Pandey told IANS: “The indefinite curfew was imposed at dawn as a precautionary measure. The cremation of the body would take place by mid-morning.”

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

Dogra made an emotional speech to the gathering, saying the revocation of the land transfer order to the shrine board had driven him to desperation. He said he was “sacrificing his life for the cause”, eyewitnesses told reporters.

Dogra, who had allegedly consumed poison before making the speech, fell unconscious. He was taken to a hospital where the doctors declared him dead, police said.

Soon after, AYSS activists brought Dogra’s body to the Parade Ground and refused to let the police conduct a post mortem. Police forcibly took away the body for post mortem but as soon as the procedure was over, the actvists again brought back the body to the ground.

After a tug of war over the body, police took it away to Dogra’s native village of Bishnah early Thursday. A curfew was simultaneously imposed in Jammu and surrounding areas of Ranbirsinghpora, Bishnah and Arnia.

“It was an ugly spectacle. The body was being dragged and pulled by several people,” said an eyewitness.

Police said a suicide note was found in Dogra’s pocket. It said he was upset about National Conference president Omar Abdullah’s remarks in parliament Tuesday that Kashmiris would die but never give forest land to the shrine board.

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

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

The government rescinded the order July 1.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

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