Massive protests in Jammu, 10 wounded in police firing in Akhnoor

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Jammu, Aug 5 (UNI) At least 10 protesters were wounded, including one critically, in police firing at Jourian in Akhnoor sector here today as hundreds of people, including women and children, defied curfew restrictions in various parts of the Jammu region, official sources said.

''Police fired bullets at a large group of agitating people at Jourian, who attempted to set afire the office of Tehsildar,'' an official source said.

People in different parts of the region defied restrictions to hold protests against the Jammu and Kashmir government for revoking the order of land transfer in favour of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

Despite Army out on city roads, people defied curfew and staged demonstrations in various places of the city as well as small towns of the region, which is witnessing unrest after the government revoked order diverting land to the SASB at Baltal for constructing temporary shelters for pilgrims.

Army troops continued to stage flag marches in the curfew-bound districts of the winter capital region.

While a mob damaged the railway track between Jammu and Pathankote at Ghagwal, hundreds of protesters from the nearby villages on the Jammu-Pathankote National Highway staged a demonstration on the otherwise deserted road.

Similarly, hundreds of families defied curfew to gather at Bishnah town, where police had attempted to forcibly cremate a protester in the wee hours of July 24, which further aggravated the protests against the government.

The curfew relaxation from 0500 to 0800 hrs in Jammu and 0700 hrs to 1000 hrs in Udhampur this morning passed off peacefully, an official spokesman said.

Reports from Udhampur said people at many places defied curfew and staged protest demonstrations.

''Many a times clashes with police were about to happen, but timely intervention of Army troops prevented the situation,'' sources said.

However, no relaxation was given in Samba district, where two protesters were killed in police firing yesterday.

''At least 20 police personnel were also wounded in heavy stone pelting and clashes with people who attempted to block Jammu-Pathankot National Highway at Samba yesterday,'' the spokesman said.

A group of people demanding restoration of land also ransacked the Municipal Council building at Kathua late last night, reports said.

They also forced stoppage of work on the NHPC project at Mashka village in Bani belt of Kathua. Army was continuously conducting flag marches in sensitive areas to ensure curfew in the area after the relaxation.

The Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (SAYSS), a conglomerate of 35 political, religious and social outfits, has extended the Jammu 'bandh' till August 8.

The Samiti, which has ruled out any dialogue with the government, is demanding removal of newly-appointed Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and restoration of forest land to the SASB at Baltal.

UNI VJ ATI BST1606

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