Amarnath land row: Violence escalates; 23 injured

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Jammu, Aug 6: Protests seem to be escalating and spreading to all districts in Jammu as curfew was extended to the southernmost Kathua district to control the agitation on Amarnath land row. At least 23 people, including 13 policemen were injured in clashes at the bordering Jourian town in Akhnoor sector, where protesters damaged rail line in Samba and disrupted train service

Despite Army out on city roads, people defied curfew orders and staged demonstrations in various parts of the Jammu region, which is witnessing unrest after the government revoked order diverting land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) at Baltal for constructing temporary shelters for pilgrims.

The furious mob also set ablaze the Naib Tehsildar's official building and CID office in Akhnoor sector this afternoon. The protesters pelted stones at the police who resorted to lathicharge and opened fire.

''At least 10 protesters were injured in police firing in Jourian, while 13 police personnel were injured who have been shifted to military hospital for treatment,'' an official source said, asserting that the condition of three policemen was critical.

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

While the 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 early hours of July 24, which further aggravated the protests against the government. The curfew relaxation from 0500 hrs 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.

The protesters also forced stoppage of work on the NHPC project at village Mashka in Bani belt of Kathua district, while 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

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