Mixed response to BJP 'bharat bandh' call; peaceful in Delhi

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New Delhi, Jul 3 (UNI) Protest demonstrations, picketing, traffic snarls, 'dharnas', road jams and slogan shouting crowds dotted the capital's landscape during BJP-VHP sponsored 'bandh' today called in protest against the revoking of land transfer order to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though traders' response to the bandh call was lukewarm with several prominent markets in Delhi remaining open, the bandh was peaceful and attracted voluntary participation.

Police said no untoward incident was reported from any part of the city and the situation remained well under control all through the day.

''The situation remained peaceful and no incident was reported from anywhere, barring at one or two places where with the timely intervention of the police normalcy was restored,'' said Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.

The situation, more or less, remained normal, he added.

Earlier in the day, a major jam was reported at Vikas Marg, which was lifted after police intervened.

Several other areas in East Delhi like Preet Vihar, Mayur Vihar, Noida More near Akshardham witnessed blocking of roads and widespread protests.

In Laxmi Nagar two buses were damaged after a crowd threw stones and smashed window panes. However, no one was injured.

Demonstrations and slogan shouting mobs marching on streets were also witnessed near Karkardooma courts, Vikas Marg and Mother Dairy areas.

Minor clashes were also reported in Laxmi Nagar area when demonstrators forcibly tried to pull down shutters.

Asia's largest furniture market on Jail Road in West Delhi also observed a complete 'bandh'.

Sit-in 'dharnas' were witnessed at Madhuban Chowk in North-West Delhi and pockets of Karol Bagh area, though the main arterial roads of the city like Patel Road and Pusa Road leading to Connaught Place remained relatively clog-free.

In South Delhi's Maharani Bagh and Ashram areas, at DND toll bridge junction, traffic was blocked by protestors, but were later eased after the locals intervened.

Various prominent market places like Karol Bagh, Panchkuian Road and Paharganj saw partial 'bandh' while Connaught Place remained open.

Co-sponsors claimed the 'Bharat Bandh' as a major success, saying the country-wide positive response has shown that the entire nation opposed the appeasement policies of the Congress, specially when it came to matters of faith.

VHP International General Secretary Pravin Togadia said, ''In response to Jammu and Kashmir government's grabbing of Amarnath land, all Hindus in Bharat observed a spontaneous democratic 'bandh' and the VHP thanks them for standing up for Bhagwan Amarnath.'' He said from Jammu to Jharkhand, Pune to Patna and Gujarat to Goa, Hindus observed ''spontaneous bandh'' which showed that Bharat was with Hindus and henceforth Bharat will not tolerate any injustice to Hindus and protest democratically.

He also informed that VHP would observe an 'All India Protest Week', where there will be 'Dharna Pradarshan Rally' (protests rallies) to draw people's attention towards the government's succumbing to jehadi forces dictates and taking land meant for Sri Amarnath Shrine Board.

''During this week saints from all over will march to the Prime Minister's House and governor's residence in state capitals and petition them demanding allotment of land for Baba Amarnath.'' The Bajrang Dal said, in its communique, that the national capital region of Delhi responded positively to the 'bharat bandh' and almost all markets, industrial areas and several institutions remained closed for the day.

''Many religious, social, cultural and political organisations came forward in support of the bandh and entire Delhi got united against the Amar Nath land withdrawal issue.'' The Delhi BJP also claimed that the 'bandh' was a success with former national president of the party M Venkaiah Naidu stating that if BJP came to power at centre, it will make all arrangements for smooth conduct of Amarnath pilgrimage in Kashmir.

''It is a national shame that the UPA government has not been able to provide 100 acres of land for making arrangements for the pilgrims of Lord Amarnath - the symbol of the belief of hundred crore Hindus of the country.'' The BJP was committed to end the discrimination against Hindus and will not allow the policy of appeasement anymore, he said while addressing party workers and local residents assembled in Rohini area in north-west Delhi during the 'bandh' call.

State party president Harsh Vardhan said it was not the question only of 100 acres of land, but of the belief, honour and prestige of the Hindus.

''The Congress government is insulting the Hindus again and again deliberately which was implicit in the arrest of Shankaracharya, demolition of Ramsetu, questioning the existence of Lord Ram and now the cancellation of land allotted to the Amarnath Shrine Board.'' UNI AN SR VC2055

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