Jammu Snubs Bandh Call

Jammu Snubs Bandh Call

3 July 2010
The Telegraph (Kolkata)


Srinagar: Jammu today snubbed organisers of a bandh that was being seen as a means to create communal disharmony in the state. The Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti’s shutdown call evoked little response today. In contrast, the samiti, which had spearheaded the pro-Amarnath land agitation, had enforced a prolonged shutdown in Jammu in 2008. The group had asked people to observe a shutdown against the alleged desecration of a temple and perceived threat to Amarnath Yatra in Kashmir. Neither the temple nor any pilgrim had been targeted in the Valley, apparently the reason for the tepid response to the bandh call. Most shops and business establishments remained open and transport plied normally in the winter capital. A handful of samiti supporters tried to take out a procession but were detained by police as a precautionary measure. Several dozen organisations representing traders, business establishments and social groups openly decided to defy the samiti today. Jammu Traders Federation president Yashpal Gupta said the hartal call was given in haste. “We decided against joining the bandh because the call was neither in the interest of Amarnath Yatra nor the yatris,” he said. Gupta said the pro-Amarnath land agitation in Jammu in 2008 was altogether a different matter where emotions of people were involved. However, there was no respite for people in the Valley following curfew in several areas for the ninth day today in the wake of violent protests in which several youths were killed. Officials said curfew was lifted from Sopore and Baramulla towns, but Srinagar’s old city and Anantnag remained under restrictions. Where curfew has not been clamped, a complete shutdown paralysed life. The issue of stone-pelting has divided the moderate Hurriyat camp after Molvi Abbas Ansari, one of its senior leaders, said yesterday that the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party was behind such incidents. The statement, which echoed views of chief minister Omar Abdullah, has drawn brickbats from the hardline separatists who asked the chief of the moderate group, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, to expel Ansari. Mirwaiz today said the protesters are nobody’s paid agents. “It is sentiment that is driving people to the streets. People are reacting to the gross human rights violations committed by Indian forces and they are neither agents of Omar Abdullah nor Mehbooba Mufti,” he said. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said Ansari’s credentials were doubtful. “I do not know what he is getting from the ruling party for making such statements. One thing is clear: the statements of the chief minister and Ansari are adding fuel to fire,” she said. Yesterday, Omar had reached out to the separatists separately to undo the perceived damage caused by his pro-CRPF statements and iron-fist policy. Omar said the aspirations of the people could not be assuaged only by development, good governance and economic packages. “We need to address the political aspects of the problem as well. And for that, I appeal to all the stakeholders to join hands with us so that together we can work for a better tomorrow.”


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