Curfew in Jammu after protester's death

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Jammu, Jul 24: Indefinite curfew today was again clamped in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir today as a precautionary measure after a youth, protesting the revocation of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), allegedly committed suicide during the agitation.

''Curfew was imposed as a preventive measure in entire Jammu, following the death of an agitator,'' IGP Jammu K Rajendra told UNI.

The Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (AYSS), which is spearheading the agitation for restoration of forest land to SASB, had called for a Jammu 'bandh' today.

A strong wave of protests struck the winter capital again after one Kuldeep Kumar Dogra, 33, a resident of Tallab Tillo (Jammu), committed suicide at the venue of the AYSS's hunger strike at Parade Ground yesterday.

Soon after the news of suicide spread, hundreds of people took to street to protest against the government.

At Bishnah, where the last rites of the youth is scheduled to take place this afternoon, an enraged mob set afire a police vehicle early this morning and also assaulted a policeman on duty, reports said.

''The youth, who had joined the ongoing protest, appeared at the venue where the AYSS was holding the hunger strike yesterday afternoon in a subconscious state. He made an emotional speech and recited a poem and fainted soon after finishing it,'' an eyewitness told UNI.

Dogra was immediately shifted to the Government Medical College, where doctors pronounced him brought dead.

The news of his death spread in the city like wild fire with the shopkeepers lowering shutters while hundreds of people taking to streets and holding vociferous protests against the government.

The saffron brigade activists, ranting anti-government slogans, took out several protest rallies on two-wheelers across the city. The civil administration had garrisoned a posse of state police and para-military personnel all over the city to maintain law and order. A probe had already been ordered into Kuldeep's death, who had allegedly consumed some poisonous substance before reaching the 'dharna' site.

The AYSS is demanding the allocation of about 40 hectare forest land to the SASB. The land was first diverted to the SASB on May 26 for setting up temporary prefabricated structures for pilgrims in south Kashmir, but after it was made an issue that triggered massive protests in the Valley, the government revoked the previous order on July 1.

While it helped in pacifying people in Kashmir, the Muslim majority region of the state, it stirred up massive protests in Jammu region.

Various political and non-political parties in Jammu joined under the banner of the AYSS to continue the protest for allotment of the forest land to the SASB.


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