Both sides show restraint: VHP activists detained, released

Both sides show restraint: VHP activists detained, released

3 June 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal &Avtar Bhat

Jammu: With both sides showing restraint, all Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists including some of their leaders were peacefully detained by police under preventive measures in the City here this morning as they tried to start yatra to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji in South Kashmir Himalayas on the eve of Jyeshtha Purnima tomorrow. The event passed off peacefully as their was no provocation from either side with the VHP activists not making major attempts to break police barricades at Parade and other parts of Jammu region while police didn’t use force anywhere to arrest them. In fact, police and civil administration arranged ‘langars’ for the detained VHP activists at Yatri Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar, the base camp of Amarnath yatra here and District Police Lines (DPL), Kathua before they left the venues late this evening. The VHP activists were also arrested at Kathua, Udhampur, Samba, Rajouri, Sunderbani, Ramban, Miran Sahib, RS Pura, Akhnoor and various other places of Jammu region this morning when they tried to march towards Parade Ground to join the VHP backed yatra to Amarnath ji shrine. The VHP activists protested before being detained by police at Parade Ground. However, all of them were detained peacefully, lodged in the buses and shifted to Yatri Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar, where they were served ‘langars’ and allowed to go wherever they wanted including Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine in Trikuta Hills of Katra. Civil and police administration including Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pradeep Gupta, IGP Jammu Dilbagh Singh, DIG Jammu-Kathua range JP Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Verma and SSP Jammu Prabhat Singh persuaded the VHP activists and leaders, who had come from different parts of the country that conditions were not conducive for starting yatra to Shri Amarnath ji shrine at this stage in view of heavy snowfall along both tracks of Baltal and Chandanwari. A police official said 600 VHP activists were detained from Parade. VHP national spokesman Dr Surinder Jain, however, declared that the VHP activists would make another attempt tomorrow to take out the yatra to Amarnath ji shrine. He said Mahamandleshwar of Haridwar, Uttarakhand and BJP leaders JP Nadda and Tarun Vijay would also join them tomorrow. The administration also showed latest photographs and videos of the Baltal and Chandanwari tracks to some of the VHP leaders, which had been taken by Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) through helicopters. The photographs and videos showed heavy accumulation of snow on the tracks. However, the VHP leaders rejected the photographs and videos saying the snowfall was not an unusual phenomenon as it occurred even during the yatra. 'It was only an excuse to curtail duration of the pilgrimage under pressure’’, they lamented. In the morning, VHP leaders and activists including Mahamandleshwar Manmohan Dass from Madhya Pradesh, Kailash Singh, Surinder Jain and Rama Kant Dubey among others gathered at Parade and held a rally before starting their yatra to Shri Amarnath ji shrine. In their address, VHP leaders flayed authorities of SASB on the ground that they have failed to keep the pilgrimage to two months duration, started in 2003. They were of the view that the SASB and civil administration have not been making any attempt to clear the tracks and make them fit for the yatra. They said from 60 days, duration of pilgrimage has been reduced to just 39 days and, if the present trend continued, it may well be brought down back to 30 days. They cautioned the SASB, Centre and State Governments against taking sentiments of Hindu community leniently, which could result into a countrywide backlash. After the address, the VHP activists, majority of whom were drawn from other parts of the country and very few from Jammu, tried to march towards Srinagar in violation of Section 144 CrPC, which had been imposed in entire Jammu district by District Magistrate, Sanjeev Verma. Police had barricaded all routes leading to Jammu-Srinagar National Highway from Parade. Some of the VHP activists marched toward Ranbireshwar temple while some others moved towards Palace Road. However, police personnel peacefully persuaded them to sit in the buses arranged for them as they were being detained in violation of Section 144 CrPC on the ground that weather was not conducive for undertaking pilgrimage to Amarnath ji shrine, at present. All VHP leaders and activists, barring those who left the venue on their own, were taken into custody by police, lodged in the buses and taken to Yatri Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar, which served as base camp of Shri Amarnath shrine yatris. Sources said about 600 workers were lodged at the Yatri Niwas. Police arranged a langar for them in the Yatri Niwas and persuaded them to visit Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and come again for Amarnath yatra after getting themselves properly registered between June 25 to August 2. Some of the activists left for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine while others headed back home. Few others stayed at Ved Mandir. In Kathua, over 50 VHP activists from Punjab led by Ashok Bhatia, who were detained last night and lodged in the District Police Lines (DPL), Kathua were served langar before being released this evening. Another group of VHP activists started a march from Degree College Kathua. Police stopped their march at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park but some of the youth grappled with the cops leading to minor injuries to both sides including Additional SP Kathua Zahid Manhas and Additional DC Ajay Jamwal. Later, police detained all of them at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park and released them in the evening. The VHP activists from Udhampur started the yatra from town. They were stopped at Jakhaini on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The VHP workers tried to march ahead but were detained peacefully. They were sent back in the same buses and freed late in the afternoon. The VHP workers from Samba marched towards Mansar route but were detained and lodged in the DPL Samba before being freed. The VHP activists from Rajouri were detained at Kallar bridge while those marching from Sunderbani were detained at the town. VHP activists in Miran Sahib, RS Pura, Ramban, Akhnoor and various other places were also detained in the morning when they tried to march towards Parade Ground to join the VHP yatra to Srinagar or directly proceed to the Valley. Police said all detainees had been released by this evening. Late this evening, another bus from Punjab was heading towards Jammu was stopped at Kot Punnu in Kathua. Earlier in the morning, the atmosphere at Parade Ground was surcharged as a number of Amarnath bound yatris including sizable number of women chanting ‘Bum Bum Bhole’ and ‘Jaikara Veer Bajrangay, Har Har Mahadev’ assembled in front of Brahman Sabha to leave for holy cave of Swami Amarnath ji to perform darshan there on Jyeshtha Purnima tomorrow. Mahamandleshwar Swami Radhey Radhey Ji led the yatris carrying saffron flags in their hands. After VHP national spokesman, Dr Surinder Jain asked yatris to march round the city and have the darshan of various temples here for which the Jammu is word-wide famous till arrangements of vehicles is made, the pilgrims in the shape of a procession proceeded towards Geeta Bhawan from Brahman Sabha but they were not allowed to move further by the police, which had cordoned off the road in front of PDD office Parade. The yatris bid to move via Raj Tilak road was also foiled as a big pose of police deployed there stopped them from proceeding ahead and forced them to move via Women College Parade towards Kachi Chawni. But another police party, which was deployed there did not let them go ahead. This resulted into jostling between the police and yatris at a number of occasions. However, police and yatris maintained utmost restraint and everything went off peacefully. The scene continued for about half an hour with yatris chanting ‘Bum Bum Bole’ and making rounds of Parade to and fro till a group of 50 odd Bajrang Dal activists managed to break the police cordon and run towards the Raj Tilak road. But they too were chased by the police and pushed back after covering a distance of over 30 meters. To prevent any untoward incident, the pilgrims were detained. They were put into 10 buses and taken to Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas where from they were released in the afternoon. An official spokesman said that the yatris were served lunch and soft drinks at Yatri Niyas before their release. Those who were arrested included Mahamandleshwar Swami Radhey Radhey, State president, VHP Dr Rama Kant Dubey, Leela Karan Sharma, ex president SAYSS, Nand Kishore regional convener Bajrang Dal, Sat Sharma (CA) general secretary BJP, Munish Sharma, state president VHP, Engineer Ghulam Ali, a Gujjar leader, Rajesh Gupta district BJP chief and several social and political activists. Addressing the gathering at Parade, Mahamandleshwar said Mulayam Singh Yadav had also tried the same tactics on Ram Bhakts in Ayodya but did not succeed. He said the views of Jagat Guru Shankaracharya should have been respected by the Government and SASB, who had recently said that yatra should run for two months from Jyeshtha Purnima to Shrawan Purnima. He also criticized the Chief Minister and State Governor, who is also the Chairman of the SASB, for their negative role on yatra. Dr Jain, while addressing the gathering at Parade, said the Shiv Bhakts, who have the security cover of Lord need not be afraid of terrorists. He also questioned the SASB’s decision of declaring the yatra date nine months ago asking'how could they ascertain that weather would be pleasant from that period only’’? He however maintained that VHP’s Amarnath movement is peaceful and appealed the yatris to maintain calm and cool while leaving for holy cave. He urged them not to indulge in any sort of violence. ' We should be ready to go to jail instead of indulging into violence’’, he added. Engineer Ghulam Ali said that Gujjars and Bakerwals are ready to render every kind of assistance and help to pilgrims including clearance of road. He too demanded that the yatra should be of two months duration and start from Jyeshtha Purnima. Later talking to reporters, Dr Jain condemned the administration for arresting yatris and not allowing them to leave for holy cave. He said five pilgrims were arrested near Baltal yesterday and claimed that a ‘Jatha’ of pilgrims is also on their way to holy cave from Kashmir today. He alleged that hundreds of pilgrims were arrested at different places including Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Sunderbani and Rajouri and were not allowed to proceed further. Maintaining that it is the constitutional right of every Hindu to have the pilgrimage, Dr Jain said the Chief Minister was supposed to flag off the yatra today and Shrine Board should have made the arrangements in which they including the administration failed. He said despite the curbs imposed by police and administration hundreds of Shiv Bhakts managed to reach Parade today. He said tomorrow also hundreds of Shiv Bhakts will assemble at Parade before leaving for holy cave and in case they were not allowed they will resort to sit in dharna and road blockade. The yatra tomorrow will be led by Mahamandleshwar Haridwar Swami Divyanand Ji Maharaj and BJP national general secretary JP Nadda and MP Tarun Vijay will also participate in it. He made an appeal to all political parties including NC to participate in the yatra. He said the yatra will also leave from all district headquarters of Jammu region tomorrow and in case the pilgrims were not allowed they will resort to dharna and protest. Meanwhile, majority of yatris who had reached here from UP, MP, Haryana and other States said that they will return to their home states after the administration did not allow them to proceed further. Ram Kumar, a pilgrim from Shamli, UP who also was arrested said that he would return to his home as their chances of leaving for holy cave for darshan are bleak. He, however, criticized the Government for not allowing the permission of pilgrimage from Jyeshtha Purnima saying that hundreds of pilgrims, who have reached here have been put to trouble by not allowing them to proceed further. 'What is the fun of sending pilgrims here when negative is the attitude of the authorities in J&K’’, said Gaytri Devi, who had for the first time come to have the pilgrimage of Swami Amarnath. Chagger Singh, another pilgrim from Gawaliar (MP) said that he would not have come had he earlier come to know that the administration would not accord permission to the yatra. Singh, who had come for pilgrimage of Swami Amarnath along with his other members of family, said they would return by tomorrow or day after tomorrow. Some pilgrims were saying that they would proceed towards holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi as they had come here for pilgrimage and they will not return without the same. Chanchal Devi from Jagadari Haryana, who accompanied a group of 20 pilgrims from the State said they would have the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi now as they have the return ticket of Wednesday.