GoM resolves Rajouri crisis: curfew lifted, normalcy restored

GoM resolves Rajouri crisis: curfew lifted, normalcy restored

17 March 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Complete normalcy was restored in Rajouri town today as curfew was lifted after 10 days and all shops including those owned by the minorities reopened following an agreement reached between agitated representatives of minority community and a Group of Ministers (GoM), which was camping in the sensitive town since yesterday afternoon on the instructions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. As an immediate sequel to the agreement, the Government this evening ordered posting of Saugat Biswas, Additional Secretary in Housing and Urban Development Department, as new Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri replacing GA Khwaja while Mubassir Latifi, has been posted as SP Rajouri in place of SSP Vijay Singh Samyal. Official sources told the Excelsior that the GoM comprising Industry and Commerce Minister Surjit Singh Slathia, Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma, Advisor to Chief Minister Mubarak Gul, Political Advisor to Chief Minister Devender Rana and Minister of State for Power Shabir Khan continued hectic parleys with representatives of both minority and majority communities throughout the night and finally reached an agreement this morning after which the minorities, who had kept their business establishments shut since March 7 even during curfew relaxation, agreed to resume their business as their all demands were conceded. Mr Rana played a crucial role in ending stalemate in Rajouri, which had the potential of spreading to other areas with Jammu and other parts observing a total shutdown today, as he remained in touch with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah from Rajouri since last evening briefing him of parleys with both the communities and their demands. Mr Rana finally succeeded in his efforts this morning when the minorities agreed to his proposal and announced withdrawal of agitation followed by re-opening of their shops after 10 days from 4 pm today. Omar this evening tweeted 'unfortunately with the bandh in Jammu and need to make sure that Rajouri (issue) is resolved today, I was unable to go to New Delhi for IT conclave'. Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Pawan Kotwal, IGP Jammu Dilbagh Singh and DIG Rajouri-Poonch range Rajesh Kumar assisted the GoM. Demands of the minorities, which have been conceded by the GoM, included immediate transfer of DC and SSP Rajouri, arrest of all culprits involved in stone pelting on religious Bhairav procession on March 6 and 7 on the occasion of Holi festival at the earliest followed by presentation of challan against them, magisterial inquiry into all the incidents in the past 10 days including attack on the houses of minority community by the IRP personnel on Thursday after their procession causing damage to their property, compensation for the damage caused to houses and other assets by IRP and local police, deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in place of IRP and unconditional release of youths of minority community, who had been detained by police and withdrawal of cases against them. As an immediate action on the demands, the Government today ordered posting of Saugat Biswas, an IAS officer of 2006 batch and presently Additional Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department as Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri vice GA Khwaja. Mr Khwaja has been posted as Special Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department. Mr Latifi has been posted as SP Rajouri vice Mr Samyal, who has been transferred and posted as Commandant IRP 10th battalion in place of Mushtaq Keenu, who has been shifted as Divisional Commandant, Home Guards, Kashmir. Sources said Additional Commissioner in the office of Divisional Commissioner, RK Bhagat is being appointed to hold magisterial inquiry into all incidents in Rajouri leading to trouble and submit its findings within 15 days. On the arrest of accused involved in attack on Bhairav procession of minorities on March 6 and 7, the GoM told the representatives of minority community that one of the accused Shafkat Wani has already been arrested by the cops while police was making efforts to apprehend others. The GoM also agreed to depute CRPF in place of IRP in Rajouri for assessment. Soon after the GoM conceded all demands of minorities, they announced withdrawal of their agitation and assured to re-open their shops at 4 pm. Authorities lifted curfew from entire Rajouri town and outskirts this afternoon. Normalcy was restored in the town with both communities opened their shops and transport returning on roads after about 10 days. As a precautionary measure, Section 144 would remain in force during the night while CRPF would also stay in some sensitive localities for a couple of days before their withdrawal. The minorities had agreed to hold negotiations with the GoM late last night after their demand for release of three boys arrested for stone pelting on police personnel on Thursday was accepted. All three boys were released last night after which parleys between GoM and minority and majority community, initially separately, followed by collectively continued throughout the night and ended at 10 am when the agreement was reached. The GoM returned here this evening. Curfew was imposed in Rajouri on March 7 on the occasion of Holi festival after second time attack on religious Bhairav procession of minorities by the majority community youth. Prior to that, the majority community had protested the remarks made by Vishwa Hindu Parishad national working president Praveen Togadia in Rajouri on March 4 leading to registration of case against him under Section 153-A RPC. Day curfew was listed on March 13 while it was completely lifted on March 14 in Rajouri following improvement in situation. However, trouble again erupted in Rajouri town on March 15 when a peaceful procession taken out by the minorities was canecharged and teargassed by the IRP personnel. People pelted stones on the cops leading to injuries on both sides. Authorities had re-imposed curfew in Rajouri on March 15. Sources said curfew was completely lifted today from Rajouri as people resumed their normal business. Speaking to reporters in Rajouri, Sanatan Dharam Sabha president, Dinesh Sharma and other representatives of minorities expressed gratitude to the GoM for accepting their demands. He thanked the people, social and religious organisations of Jammu, Nowshera, Sunderbani, Kalakote, Bhamla, Siot and other places, who stood by them in the hour of crisis. Mr Sharma also thanked the representatives of majority community for visiting the houses of minorities, which had been damaged by the cops, who went berserk after Thursday's clash. The cops had damaged several houses and other assets of minorities. Mr Sharma said both communities want to live with love and peace in Rajouri but there were some miscreants, who had tried to create differences between them. BJP leader Vibodh Gupta expressed thanks to the GoM for conceding demands of the minorities leading to lifting of curfew and restoration of peace in Rajouri after about 10 days. The minority delegation, which met the GoM comprised Kuldeep Raj Gupta, Vibodh Gupta, Yogesh Sharma, all from BJP, Rajinder Gupta, former chairman, Municipal Committee, Rajouri, Vijay Gupta, president, Beopar Mandal, Rajouri, Hardev Raj, Incharge RSS Rajouri-Poonch, Bharat Bhushan Vaid, BJP, Kamal Gupta, BJP, Sushil Vaid, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, KK Langer, Lalit Gupta, Thakur Kamal Singh and Lovely Gupta among others.