Amarnath land row: Essentials, money in short supply in Jammu

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Jammu, Aug 5 (UNI) People have started facing shortage of money and essential commodities in the region, particularly in Jammu city, with the banks almost closed and ATMs cashless due to curfew restrictions after the revival of massive protests for land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board following the death of a protester Kuldeep Dogra on July 23.

Large numbers of people were coming out of their houses, even in the curfew-bound five districts -- Jammu, Rajouri, Samba, Doda and Udhampur -- of the winter capital region, demanding restoration of 40 hectares of forest land in south Kashmir to SASB.

With shops facing shortage of goods, people in Jammu are forced to carry on with whatever is available inside their house.

''For the last 13 days no milk, no vegetable and no atta (flour) has been purchased owing to the ongoing agitation and subsequent curfew restrictions imposed by the government,'' a housewife Swarn Lata said, while proceeding in a group of people defying curfew in Bantalab area last evening.

In a new mode adopted to lodge protest against the government, women and children beat drums and plates on the roofs of their houses after sunset while groups, defying curfew restrictions, move out on city streets raising 'Bham-Bham bhole' and 'Bharat Mata ki jai'.

''I have been lucky as I withdrew some money from bank to pay the premium of my insurance policy a day curfew was clamped. Now I'm using that amount to survive in this situation,'' said Vijay who works as an Assistant Manager in a company at Jammu.

Continuous reports of police brutality against the protesters at several places and ''undeclared emergency'' situation has further agitated people in Jammu, which is witnessing hard time since last 35 days on the Amarnath land row.

At least seven people have lost their lives in the ongoing agitation in Jammu region, with four youths being killed in police firing alone at Samba.

The protest for restoration of land to the SASB, which initially started as political development spearheaded by Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti, has become a mass movement in Jammu with people belonging to different religions supporting the agitation.

''People have grown stronger with every step taken by the government to suppress them. They are coming out voluntarily to protest against government apathy and police brutality,'' Jammu Municipal Corporation member Priya Sethi told UNI.

Maintaining that there is no communal element attached and people believing in different faiths were supporting the agitation, Ms Sethi said, ''Inspite of all odds we will not let the sacrifices of people go waste.'' Large numbers of people in rural areas of different districts in Jammu were taking out rallies in their areas for their demand of removal of Governor N N Vohra and restoration of forest land to the SASB.

UNI VJ RP UCS1536

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