Jammu remains tense, curfew clamped in two more districts

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Jammu, Aug 3 : The protests by Hindu activists continued and curfew was imposed on Sunday in Udhampur and Rajouri districts in Jammu over the revocation of forestland allotted to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) with violence spreading to new areas leaving six injured even as authorities suspended mobile SMS service to check rumours.

In the wake of protesters indulging in arson and heavy stone pelting, Army conducted flag marches in the two trouble-torn districts.

According to official sources, SMS service of mobile operators was suspended in view of fast spreading rumours and transmission of programmes by two local TV channels was also suspended.

The 300-kilometres-long Jammu-Srinagar highway has been affected by the protests. The Army has taken over the operation of the highway for unobstructed supply of essential commodities to the Kashmir valley.

Some protesters torched four houses of a particular community in R S Pura belt and stoned vehicles damaging four trucks in Hira Nagar area early Sunday morning.

On Saturday, 21 people, including two policemen, were injured after protesters defied curfew and fought pitched battles with police in Jammu and Samba districts.

Meanwhile, the re-imposed curfew has left many tourists, who had come visiting the state from various parts of the country for the Amarnath pilgrimage and to visit the revered Vaishno Devi temple, stranded in Jammu as lack of conveyance adds onto their woes.

The tourists are lamenting apathy on part of the State Government for lack in making proper arrangements for the tourists.

"We are facing lot of problems due to the curfew. There is no conveyance available for us to go back. The Government has done no arrangements for us," said Vijay Singh, a tourist from New Delhi.

Some tourists recounted the horrors of being stuck in the middle of protesters and agitators and wished for better security arrangements in the state.

"We had taken nine vehicles full of people and when we were just a few kilometers away from Katra, some people attacked us and asked us to go away as they were planning protests even though curfew was clamped in the city. We came back with great difficulty after saving our lives," said Anjani Kumar, another tourist from Uttar Pradesh.

Jammu, a predominantly Hindu region has been witnessing violent protests and agitators have been demanding restoration of forestland allotted to the Board by the state government for making makeshift facilities for Amarnath pilgrims.

The ongoing unrest in the state is being supported by about 30 Hindu organisations.

On July 1, the Jammu and Kashmir Government was forced to back down on its decision to transfer 100 acres (40.47 hectares) of forestland in Kashmir to the SASB following widespread protests in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley.

ANI

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