Land row: Curfew imposed in Jammu again

July 27th, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, July 27 (IANS) Fearing more violence, authorities re-imposed curfew in Jammu district Sunday morning, a day after violent protests over the Amarnath land transfer revocation revisited the city injuring 50 people, the police said. The police said the authorities feared a violent outbreak during a tribute paying ceremony Saturday for Kuldip Kumar Dogra who allegedly committed suicide here Wednesday in protest against the land row.

The city was under curfew Thursday but the restrictions were lifted Friday even as a shutdown called by the Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (AYSS) continued.

The AYSS, a conglomerate of some Hindu groups spearheading the agitation, said its activists would hold a tribute paying ceremony for Dogra, hailed as “a martyr” for the “cause of the land restoration” to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

AYSS chairman Leela Karan said “tens of thousands of people” were expected to take part in the ceremony.

A police officer said: “We had reports that the mob would turn violent during the tribute ceremony (for Dogra). To avert this, it was decided to re-impose curfew (in Jammu).”

Dogra’s death re-ignited protests in Jammu. His cremation fuelled the agitation as some people, claiming to be eyewitnesses, alleged that the police Wednesday night tried to cremate Dogra’s body by throwing kerosene and liquor on his pyre, instead of using the traditional ghee or butter to light the pyre.

The half burnt body was later taken away by the people to be cremated with “honour and as per the traditional rituals”, said the eyewitnesses.

Jammu has been reeling under a spell of shutdowns and curfews since July 1 when the government cancelled its May 26 order of diverting nearly 40 hectares of forest land to the SASB.

The shrine board manages the annual Himalayan pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir, at an altitude of 3,888 metres, dedicated to lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity.

The government was forced to cancel the order following massive protests in the Kashmir Valley, which were triggered by fear and widespread perception that the land would be used for settling non-locals to change the Muslim-majority character of the valley.

The government’s reversal of the decision helped the Valley protests die down but Jammu erupted.

Saturday witnessed fresh violence that saw government vehicles being torched, pitched battles between protesters and police and massive anti-government demonstrations. “More than 50 people are injured, at least a dozen of them policemen (during the Saturday clashes),” according to a police official.

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