VHP bandh over Shrine land; Jammu standstill

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Jammu, Jul 3: Life in Jammu province came to a grinding halt for the second day with the entire region, including remote villages, observing complete shut down in support of ''Bharat Bandh'' call given by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to protest against the state government's decision to revoke diversion of land in favour of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

Sources from Reasi, Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar, Samba and Kathua districts informed the sources that there was heavy response to the bandh call of VHP which was supported by BJP and other saffron parties. Even small markets, business establishments, shops and vehicular movement were closed in the remote areas of the districts to lodge protest against the government decision.

Besides Jammu city, the civil administration had imposed indefinite curfew in Bhaderwah and Samaba towns to check violent protest.

Emergency services staff, including health, fire and police, passengers heading towards railway station or airport and media people were allowed to move through the deserted city routes.

Markets and educational institutes were closed and vehicles remained off the road in view of curfew and Bharat Bandh.

According to reports, people at many places, in small groups, attempted to defy the curfew. Heavy deployment of security forces have been made to check violence in the region.

The indefinite curfew was imposed at some parts of northern Jammu city after heavy stone pelting and fierce clashes between the police and public on Tuesday.

Protests against the controversial forest land transfer, which was earlier confined to Jammu city, had spread to the rural areas.

The leadership of Jammu region alleged that the state government had ''bowed to the Kashmiri leadership'' and revoked the forest land transfer.

Meanwhile, the bandh and successive curfew has multiplied the problem of common masses as they have started facing shortage essential commodities.

Baba Amarnath and Mata Vaishnodevi yatris were subjected to many problems due to curfew and strike in Jammu.

However, locals at Katra had contributed to provide free food and water facility at Katra where the devotees from all over the country are forced to pass sleepless night under open sky.

Similarly, reports from Jammu-Pathankot National Highway said despite mass protests and blockages on the roads, the protesters were facilitating safe passage to the vehicles carrying Amarnath yatris. Free food stalls have also been put in place en route for the pilgrims.

UNI

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