8 Districts Under Curfew But Protests On With Stray Incidents Of Violence

8 Districts Under Curfew But Protests On With Stray Incidents Of Violence

11 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: As backlash of Kishtwar vandalism against minorities continued, eight out of 10 districts in Jammu region were brought under curfew and Army called out to maintain law and order even as another civilian was killed and four others were injured in group clash at Kajai in Gulabgarh area of Kishtwar last night taking death toll in the trouble torn district to three. Army was airdropped at Paddar, Atholi and Kajai in Gulabgarh areas after yesterday’s violence to maintain law and order. While Kishtwar was under curfew for past three days ever since worst ever riots against minorities took place on Friday, Jammu and Rajouri were put under curfew last night. Curfew was imposed in Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi and parts of Doda district early this morning. Army has been called out in all curfew bound areas for maintenance of law and order, which had virtually gone out of control yesterday. Veteran BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and RP Singh were detained at Jammu Airport this morning soon after they landed here from New Delhi and preventing from going to Kishtwar to assess the situation. They were sent back to New Delhi at 4 pm in the Indian Airlines flight. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and PCC (I) chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz were also not allowed to visit Kishtwar. BJP MP and Incharge Jammu and Kashmir, Avinash Rai Khanna was detained at Lakhanpur when he was trying to enter Jammu from Punjab to visit Kishtwar. BJP leaders Jitender Singh, Chander Mohan Sharma and Manish Sharma along with party workers were detained at Kud while trying to head towards the troubled town. Mr Jaitley told the Excelsior on his return to New Delhi from Jammu tonight that his detention at Jammu Airport was undemocratic and an Order served upon him to leave Jammu was illegal. He said the Government was trying to hide facts on Kishtwar and he would take up the issue in Parliament tomorrow. He lamented restrictions imposed on the media. Mr Khanna told the Excelsior on telephone that he would be moving an adjournment motion in Rajya Sabha at 8 am tomorrow seeking suspension of Question Hour at 11 am to discuss highly disturbing situation in Kishtwar in the presence of Minister of State for Home Sajjad Kitchloo and targeting of minorities in bizarre manner by the miscreants with the help of administration, which not only watched the vandalism and barbarism shamelessly but gave the urchins enough time to cause massive damage of the minorities’ property. He said a similar adjournment motion was likely to be moved in the Lok Sabha. Most of the pilgrims of Machail Mata Ji, who were stranded for past three days at Gulabgarh and Dool in Kishtwar district, were brought to Jammu under tight Army security in wee hours of this morning while three major pilgrimages including Machail Yatra, Amarnath Yatra and Budda Amarnath Yatra remained suspended. About 900 pilgrims were still stranded in Gulabgarh in the absence of private vehicles. Pilgrimage to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath Ji in South Kashmir Himalayas of Anantnag district also remained suspended from Jammu for third consecutive day today. Yatra to Shri Budda Amarnath ji shrine was also not allowed from Jammu Yatri Niwas at Bhagwati Nagar in view of curfew and tensions. SP Benam Tosh, Incharge Yatri Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar said about 250 pilgrims of Shri Budda Amarnath Ji and 75 pilgrims of Shri Amarnath Ji were stranded at the Jammu base camp. He added that a decision on releasing official convoy of yatra would be taken early tomorrow morning by the administration depending upon the situation. There was no let up in incidents of violence as mob set on fire at Sumo at Machine Domana, burnt a shop at Sarwal and damaged shops at Subash Nagar and Teli Mohalla in Raipur-Domana in Jammu district. Mob defied curfew at various places in Jammu, burnt tyres and effigies of the Government demanding stern action against those responsible for targeted violence against minorities in Kishtwar. Giving details of yesterday’s clash at village Kajai during a procession taken out by the minorities at Atholi and Paddar areas of Gulabgarh in Kishtwar district, sources said the processions was fired upon from inside the houses causing bullet wound to Sunil Kumar son of Swami Raj, a resident of Tatta Paani. The minorities retaliated. In the firing, Lassa Khandey son of Mohammad Khandey, a resident of Kajai was killed while three others were injured. They have been identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Khandey son of Mohammad Khandey, Imtiyaz Ahmad son of Rafiq Ahmad and Mohammad Altaf son Lassa, all residents of Kajai. Troops evacuated them from Kajai late last night in the ambulance and shifted them to Command Hospital, Udhampur. All of them had bullet wounds. They were responding to the treatment. Army was airdropped to Atholi, Paddar and Kajai last midnight to maintain law and order. Some shops had also been damaged at Kajai, reports said, adding that after deployment of Army situation had been brought under control. Army was patrolling sensitive areas in Gulabgarh. The body of Lassa Khandey was buried at his native village Kajai this evening amid tight security arrangements. Deputy Commissioner, Kishtwar, Baseer Khan has submitted official figures of loss in Kishtwar to the Government. As per his report, 68 shops, 7 hotels and 35 vehicles have been damaged during the violence and three civilians have been killed. Meanwhile, majority of pilgrims of Machail Mata Ji stranded at Gulabgarh and Dool in Kishtwar district were also shifted by the Army last midnight under tight security and brought to Udhampur and Jammu. The pilgrims had been stranded for past three days following large-scale disturbances in Kishtwar. However, about 900 pilgrims still remained stranded in Gulabgarh as there were no vehicles to shift them. Authorities said they would try to clear all passengers tonight. One of the pilgrims, Rameshwar Singh alias Shallu rang up the Excelsior from Gulabgarh and said about 900 pilgrims there were in worst condition. He said Army wanted civil authorities to arrange buses for the yatris and they were ready to provide protection for shifting them to Jammu. The pilgrims charged the district administration with doing nothing for the stranded yatris of Machail Mata Ji. Curfew continued in Kishtwar town and outskirts for third day today without any relaxation with Army patrolling streets of the disturbed areas. Army also conducted flag march at some places. There were no reports of any fresh violence from Kishtwar town today. Situation was completely normal but very tense in Kishtwar, official sources said. BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley along with his party colleague RP Singh were detained at Jammu Airport as soon they landed here from New Delhi in Spice Jet flight at 10 am today for proceedings to Kishtwar to assess the situation arising out of large-scale violence directed against the minorities by the miscreants of majority community. A helicopter, which the BJP had arranged for taking Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh to Kishtwar, returned to New Delhi in the afternoon. SSP Jammu Airport (Anti-Hijacking) Ashok Sharma told the Excelsior that Mr Jaitley was lodged in the VIP lounge and was served written order by the District Magistrate apprising him about imposition of curfew in Kishtwar and other places. Mr Jaitley, however, insisted on visiting Kishtwar to take first hand account of the situation. Senior BJP leaders including all four MLAs of the party, Jugal Kishore, Ashok Khajuria, Sham Lal Choudhary and Sukhnandan Choudhary besides Dr Nirmal Singh, who were on way to Jammu Airport to receive Mr Jaitley, were not even allowed to enter the Airport. They staged dharna outside the Airport shouting slogans against Omar Abdullah Government for not even allowing Mr Jaitley to visit Kishtwar. Mr Jaitley spoke to BJP leaders from inside the VIP Lounge on telephone to apprise himself of prevailing situation in Kishtwar. BJP president Jugal Sharma told Mr Jaitley that the minorities had been very badly targeted in Kishtwar with active connivance of Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo and the district civil and police administration. They demanded immediate dismissal of Mr Kitchloo and action against the rioters. The BJP leaders told Mr Jaitley that minorities were feeling scared not only Kishtwar but several other areas as the Government has miserably failed to provide protection to them. Mr Jaitley assured the BJP leaders that he would raise the issue in Rajya Sabha tomorrow to attract the attention of the Parliament and the nation towards atrocities on minorities. Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh were later forced to return to New Delhi in the Indian Airlines flight around 4 pm today. The BJP leaders also lifted their dharna outside the Airport later. Mr Jaitley held the Government responsible for the communal riots that rocked several places in Jammu over the past three days. He also blamed the authorities for hiding the ground realities that led to the violence. “Shops belonging to a particular community were burnt, their vehicles were torched, dozens of people were injured, some people have died also, houses have been looted and this violence has now spread to other towns,’’ he lamented “The BJP wanted its delegation to go there so that the confidence of the victims could be built up and also to find out the factual situation. Now, there is a complete censorship and the national media is not allowed there,” he added. “A lot of questions are being raised about the local MLA of National Conference who is also Minister of State for Home Sajjad Kitchloo as to how he provoked the entire situation. After all, we all want there should be calm, there should be communal amity and palpably it is evident that the government of Omar Abdullah has not taken adequate measures as were required to be taken,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Another BJP MP and Incharge J&K Avinash Rai Khanna was detained at Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir, when he was on way to Kishtwar from Punjab. Mr Khanna resisted his detention and was told that there was curfew in Kathua and other areas. He was detained along with other party leaders at Lakhanpur for two and a half hours before being asked to return to Punjab, SSP Kathua Mohan Lal said. Mr Khanna said he would move an adjournment motion in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow on Kishtwar violence in which large scale property of the minorities has been vandalized. Inter-acting with the Excelsior on phone, Mr Khanna regretted that even after three days the “shameless administration’’ of Kishtwar hasn’t even arrested a single person involved in burning, looting and damaging the property of minorities. He said his visit as also that of Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh to Kishtwar would have helped in restoration or normalcy. “I failed to understand what kind of Government is functioning in Jammu and Kashmir. The Government should itself facilitate the visit of different political parties to Kishtwar to inter-act with the people and help in maintenance of peace. Instead, they are preventing the political leaders from visiting Kishtwar,’’ Mr Khanna regretted. “We were proceeding in a group of about 250 activists and leaders from Pathankot, Kathua and other places towards Jammu. But Kathua police detained us as soon as we reached the Lakhanpur border. The police said that prohibitory orders had been imposed by the District Magistrate and we could not proceed further,” Mr Khanna said.. “From Jammu, I was to join Mr Jaitley and State BJP president Jugal Kishore for boarding a helicopter from Jammu for onward journey to Kishtwar, to attend a cremation of the youth killed in the violence. “However, we were detained, put on a bus and then released after about 90 minutes in Punjab territory,” Mr Khanna, who is BJP in-charge of J&K affairs, said. He alleged that local police in Kishtwar was not doing enough to control the situation. “I talked to the J-K Chief Secretary, the State’s DGP and other senior officials and they assured that situation was being tackled effectively, but on the ground the police is not doing enough. They should give the Army full control to tackle the situation, but that is not happening,” he said. “We don’t want the violence to flare up,” he added. BJP chief spokesman and National Executive Member, Dr Jitender Singh, who was detained at Kud along with veteran party leader Chander Mohan Sharma and Munish Sharma charged the Government and Kishtwar administration with all-round failure. He said they wanted to improve the situation but, instead, the Government has imposed restrictions on their visit. Chander Mohan Sharma also strongly criticised the Government for its failure to tackle the situation in Kishtwar. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti was also prevented from visiting Kishtwar. She was not allowed to leave Anantnag for Kishtwar via Synthan Pass. She too flayed the Government for stopping her from visiting Kishtwar saying she was going to talk to the two communities to bridge the gap and help in restoration of peace. PCC (I) president Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz said he too wanted to visit Kishtwar but was told by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the Government has taken an administrative decision not to allow any political leader to visit Kishtwar. Mr Soz met Omar Abdullah and sought time bound inquiry into the Kishtwar incidents. He said the Chief Minister assured him that there would be time bound inquiry and compensation released in record time. Meanwhile, authorities decided to bring most parts of Jammu region under curfew and deploy Army to prevent any flare-up in situation While curfew was clamped in Jammu and Rajouri last night, it was extended to Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi and parts of Doda districts today. Of 10 districts in Jammu, eight districts including Kishtwar were under curfew now. Only Poonch and Ramban districts were without curfew. Barring stray incidents of violence, situation remained peaceful in the entire Jammu region. Army staged flag march and patrolled curfew bound streets at various places including Jammu City. However, reports of curfew defiance were reported from almost all the places excepting Doda and Kishtwar districts. At Sarwal Chowk, the miscreants set on fire a shop and pelted stones. Later, troops took over control of the area. At Teli Mohalla, Raipur under Domana police station, the two communities pelted stones at each other causing injuries to half a dozen persons from both sides. The people were resenting refusal of a particular community to close down their shops at Teli Mohalla. As they approached Teli Mohalla, the people started stone pelting, which was retaliated by the protesters. Police personnel later rushed to the spot and resorted to firing of tear smoke shells and lathicharge to disperse the mob. The protesters later turned violent and set on fire a TATA Sumo at Machine Domana on Jammu-Akhnoor Road. The driver managed to escape from the vehicle and survived. Troops have been deployed in the area. Another group of protesters damaged a shop at Subash Nagar and threw its articles on the road. Police reached the spot and chased away the miscreants. Incidents of stone pelting on police were also reported from Janipura and various other parts of the City and outskirts. Police lobbed teargas and used lathicharge to chase away the miscreants. Police have detained a large number of stone pelters in different parts of Jammu City and outskirts. Some of the youths involved in torching shops and vehicles yesterday and today at New Plots, Sarwal and Domana were being searched. Almost the entire Jammu district was brought under curfew. Yesterday, curfew had been imposed in Jammu under jurisdiction of 12 police stations. Some areas, which were not under curfew, observed shutdown. Army and police had erected barbed wire fencing in several sensitive areas to quell the protests. Trouble erupted in Kathua this evening when youths fought pitched battles with police at New Bridge, Jarai Road and Main Chowk subjecting cops to stone pelting. Police resorted to lathicharge and teargassing to disperse the crowd. Situation was brought under control after over two hours. SSP Kathua Mohan Lal, DySP Rohit Basgotra and other senior officers were patrolling the town and the highway. Sources said curfew was imposed in Kathua, Lakhanpur and Hiranagar towns while prohibitory orders had been clamped in Bani, Basohli, Billawar, Ramkot and Nagrota. People, however, defied curfew restrictions and prohibitory orders at various places to register their protest against Kishtwar violence. In Doda, Deputy Commissioner, Mubarak Singh announced imposition of curfew at Bhaderwah, Gandoh, Thathri and Prem Nagar. Army was also deployed in major towns of the district. He said Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in the entire district for safety and security of civilians. CRPF and police were assisting the Army, Mr Singh said, adding that no untoward incident has been reported from any part of Doda district. Curfew, which was clamped in Rajouri town yesterday, was extended to Sunderbani today. In Ward No. 4, the shopkeepers clashed with cops, who wanted former to shut down their shops in view of curfew. However, the shopkeepers pelted stone on the cops, who used lathicharge. A shopkeeper, Zaheer Khan was injured in the clash. Situation in Rest of the areas of Rajouri remained peaceful. Poonch district was also normal. Entire Samba district also remained under curfew. NPP leader Rajesh Pargotra along with supporters defied curfew at Vijaypur but was immediately detained by the police. The protesters at some other places also defied curfew but the cops stopped them. Army remained deployed in all major towns of Jammu, Samba and Kathua falling along Jammu-Pathankot National Highway. Curfew was also clamped in Udhampur and Reasi districts early today but the situation was normal. All major towns of the two districts including Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar and Reasi reeled under curfew. Other areas observed shit down. In Reasi, bandh was observed at Pouni, Bharakh, Ransu, Arnas, Dharmari and Chasana areas. Police today out a procession from Chowk Chabutra to Hospital Road but dispersed later. Situation in both the districts remained normal with Army patrolling the sensitive areas. Katra town of Reasi district observed a bandh till 5 pm today. SP Katra Pawan Parihar said about 33,000 pilgrims performed darshan at Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine yesterday and 26,000 today. Situation in Ramban district, where there was no curfew, remained normal, Bandh was observed in Ramban while people took out a protest demonstration at Ukhral. Beopar Mandal, Ramban has given a call for bandh tomorrow. Banihal observed a bandh in response to a call given by the separatists. Meanwhile, traffic on Jammu-Pathankot, Jammu-Srinagar and Batote-Kishtwar National Highways and Jammu-Poonch road remained suspended as a precautionary measure. However, some private vehicles carrying stranded tourists and yatris were seen moving on the Highways and major roads. Meanwhile, Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, connecting the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, remained closed for the second day today, affecting the people’s movement in view of curfew and other restrictions. The highway was closed following tension at several places after clashes at Kishtwar on Friday. A traffic police official said no vehicle was allowed from Srinagar to Jammu for the second day today. This was a precautionary measure, he said, adding traffic would be resumed once the situation improved further. He said similarly all traffic from Jammu to the Valley has also been stopped. Sources said a large number of vehicles, including those carrying passengers, and trucks loaded with fruits were stranded at Qazigund, the gateway of Kashmir and other places on this side of the tunnel. A large number of Kashmir bound passengers besides Amarnath pilgrims and trucks loaded with essentials were also stranded at various places in Jammu. This is for the second time when the highway was closed because of protests and tension during the past one month.