Complete, peaceful bandh in Jammu region
2 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Normal life was thrown out of gear today in response to the bandh call given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)- Bajrang Dal to lodge protest against grue-some killings of 58 Kar Sevaks, who were returning from Ayodhya, at Godhra-Gujarat. The bandh was supported by various organisations namely Rashtriya Sewamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shiv Sena, All Colleges Coordination Committee (ACCC) and state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The bandh was observed in almost all parts of the Jammu province including Kathua, Udhampur, Rajouri, Doda and Poonch districts. Members of all the communities observed bandh and expressed their sympathy with those who were killed by a mob at Godhra Railway Station. All shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed. Public transport also remained off the roads and only private vehicles were seen plying on the roads. Functioning in Government offices was badly affected due to the bandh. Most of the banks and other commercial institutions in the city and adjoining areas also remained closed. As the authorities had already ordered closure of schools and colleges, all private institutes both Government and privates also remained closed today. Barring some incidents of stone pelting and mild scuffle between police and bandh supporters, bandh by and large remained peaceful through out the region. Activists of VHP and Bajrang Dal organised massive demonstrations at various places and lodged protest against killing of Kar Sevaks at Godhra. Since morning activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal and other organisations were seen moving from one bazaar to another in small processions. Though most of the shopkeepers had already downed their shutters but some shops which were opened in the morning were got closed by the bandh supporters. Bandh supporters also disrupted traffic at various places. Window panes of some vehicles which were plying on the roads were smashed by the bandh supporters. They also pelted stones on some vehicles. Earlier Bajrang Dal activists disrupted traffic at Dogra Chowk and Jewel Chowk. A group of Bajrang Dal activists gathered at ever busy Gandhi Chowk at Satwari. Shouting slogans in favour of constructing Ram Temple, this group was seen urging the shop-keepers to down their shutters. Before reaching of Bajrang Dal workers, most of the shop-keepers had already closed their shops. This group also disrupted traffic at Satwari Chowk and did not allow any public transport to pass through Satwari. Notwithstanding directions of the party high command, activists and leaders of the BJP were seen actively participating in the bandh. Impact of the bandh could be gauged from the fact that shops in the lanes and by-lanes were also closed. Ever busy Raghunath Bazaar, Kanak Mandi, Rajinder Bazaar, Residency Road and other areas wore deserted look. Keeping in view the on-going riots in Gujarat, authorities had made elaborate security arrangements. A large number of police personnel and columns of security forces were deployed in the city. Additional forces were also deployed in the hyper-sensitive areas of the city. The activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal made attempts to take out a procession from Geeta Bhawan but their attempt was foiled by the police. Police also made some preventive arrests to save the situation from worsening. Reports from Kathua said that a complete bandh was observed in the town against heart-rendering incident at Godhra Railway Station in which 58 Kar Sevaks were burnt alive by a mob of miscreants. All shops, educational institutions and business establishments remained closed. A massive protest was organised by various Hindu organisations. Dr Dushyant Sharma, Dr Ram Lal Sharma, Bishan Bharti, Surinder Mahajan and others addressed the gathering. A demonstration was also held at Nowshera area of Rajouri district. An official hand-out issued here today stated as ''in view of the call for bandh, elaborate police arrangements had been made in the Jammu city as also in the other town of Jammu region by positioning substantial number of men in uniform and civies for effective maintenance of public order. In Jammu city, most of the shops and bussiness establishments remained closed and the commercial traffic remained off the roads while the bandh was also observed in Reasi, Udhampur and Nowshera. There was no report of any untoward incident from any where''. ''Last evening, the DC and SSP Jammu had an interaction with the organisers of the bandh and impressed upon them the need of maintaining communal harmony. There was a total public disapproval of any attempt to vitiate the harmonious atmosphere. Police had also made some preventive arrests'', the official hand out further stated. Later addressing a press conference, VHP leaders expressed their gratitude towards people of Jammu region for observing complete bandh. VHP leaders said that bandh was complete in entire Jammu region including Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Doda, Poonch and Rajouri districts. VHP leaders said that police has seized some vehicles making announcement for bandh call.