Complete Bandh On Day 3; Cong Leaders Arrested, Minister Gheroed

2 August 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: As Jammu observed complete bandh for third consecutive day today, AIIMS Coordination Committee this evening extended the bandh call by another 72 hours demanding setting up of full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu. Third day of the bandh, by and large, passed off peacefully barring couple of stone throwing incidents at Purani Mandi and tiff between one of the traders and Bar Association president in Reasi. Today's peaceful bandh was contrary to large-scale violence witnessed yesterday, which had left several protesters and police personnel injured. A decision to extend the bandh by another 72 hours i.e. from August 3 morning to August 5 evening was announced by AIIMS CC leaders at a press conference this evening. The press conference was followed by a meeting of the CC members. The bandh was almost complete in all major towns of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi districts while commercial traffic remained off the roads for third consecutive day. Today being Sunday, the Government offices and educational institutions were already closed. AIIMS CC activists, who have been staging continuous dharna at Dogra Chowk on Tawi bridge blocked the road on spotting the vehicle of BJP leader and Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga coming on the bridge. However, there was no confrontation between the AIIMS CC activists and the Minister as police and CRPF personnel protected Ganga and threw cordon around him. As the protesters had blocked Tawi bridge, Ganga retreated and took Vivekanand Chowk route to proceed ahead from second Tawi bridge over Gujjar Nagar. At Purani Mandi in heart of the City, a number of youths for third consecutive day came out on the road and subjected CRPF and police personnel to heavy stone pelting defying prohibitory orders imposed in the Municipal limits of all tehsils of Jammu district by the administration under Section 144 CrPC. The CRPF and police personnel retaliated and chased away the youths but they regrouped twice and resurfaced on the streets throwing stones and burning tyres. Police resorted to lathicharge and chased away the youths. No one was injured in the clashes between police and protesters. SHO City Inspector Shakti Devi chased and apprehended one of the stone pelters. However, leaders and activists of the AIIMS CC today didn't take out any procession or held rally in any part of the City in view of prohibitory orders imposed in the City yesterday. They staged peaceful protest dharna at Tawi bridge, which was going on for past several days in support of their demand for setting up of full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu. Yesterday, the AIIMS CC leaders and activists had defied Section 144 CrPC at various places in the City, leading to clashes. Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders today defied prohibitory orders and staged a dharna at Maheshpura Chowk in Bakshi Nagar this morning demanding full-fledged AIIMS for Jammu. The Congress leaders including former Ministers Sham Lal Sharma and Raman Bhalla and Surinder Singh Shingari and Anil Chopra among others staged dharna at Maheshpura Chowk and raised slogans in support of their demand for independent AIIMS in Jammu. Later, they were arrested by Bakshi Nagar police on the charges of defying the prohibitory orders and were taken to Bakshi Nagar police station. After about two hours of detention, all 15 Congress leaders, arrested by the police, were released on 'muchalka'. Prior to dharna by the Congress former Ministers, Congress leader Surinder Singh Shingari along with party activists tried to held protest at Bakshi Nagar to burn effigy of the Government. However, police foiled his plan. Minor trouble erupted in Reasi when a local trader Vivek Anand refused to shut down his shop when the Bar Association was taking out a procession in Reasi town this morning. Bar president Vijay Sharma advised the shopkeeper to close the shop but he refused. The incident led to slogans and counter slogans. However, police intervened and both sides dispersed. Later, both the parties lodged written complaints at Reasi police station against each other. While making announcement for extension of bandh by another three days up to August 5, AIIMS CC chairman and Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Abhinav Sharma said they were forced to extend the bandh beyond first 72 hours due to 'utter failure of untrustworthy and mischievous elements, who were making mockery of the sentiments of the people of Jammu region'. To a question at a press conference this evening, Sharma said the CC was not standing on any prestige and would call off the agitation as soon as the competent authority in the Central Government make an official announcement about setting up of full-fledged and independent AIIMS for Jammu. To another question, he said 2008 Amarnath ji land agitation had united Jammu to such an extent that the people didn't have to struggle for getting separate Central University. Charging the BJP with failing to learn any lesson from three days successful bandh, Sharma said the BJP was resorting to 'white lies' to mislead the people. He said the BJP had resorted to circulation of bulk SMSes to spread lies. 'No where in the country, an AIIMS has been divided into two institutions,' he said, adding Jammu wants full-fledged AIIMS. Meanwhile, in an emergency meeting convened at Chamber House, the presidents and general secretaries of all major Bazars - Traders Associations - Industrialists unanimously urged to the president CCI Rakesh Gupta to extend the bandh by 72 hours unless and until the Government - administration produced an authentic document to support the claim of setting up of an independent AIIMS at Jammu. Among others present during the press conference including Rakesh Gupta, Chairman All J&K Passenger Transport Welfare Association, Trilochan Singh Wazir, former president JKHCBA, Jammu and senior advocate B S Slathia, Retd Sessions Judge and president JPPF, Pavitar Singh, Professor Hari Om Mahajan, president Amar Kshatriya Rajput Sabha, Narayan Singh and senior vice-president CCI, Jammu, Sham Lal Langar and president Two By Two Buses Association, Mohinder Singh. For third consecutive day today, commercial traffic remained off the road from Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar National Highways and Jammu-Akhnoor road. However, the highways and roads were cleared for private vehicles. Most of the commercial transport including buses, taxis, three-wheelers, trucks, matadors etc didn't come out of their Stands right from the morning. The private vehicles remained on the roads. There was no commercial traffic on Jammu-Srinagar, Jammu-Pathankot and Batote-Kishtwar National Highways. In the absence of commercial vehicles, which didn't come out of the General Bus Stand and other such stands. Only private vehicles were seen plying on the Highways and other major roads like Jammu-Akhnoor-Rajouri-Poonch. The people, who had to board flights and trains had to trek several kilometers. The worst affected were pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi ji and Amarnath ji shrines. However, the convoy of pilgrims of Amarnath ji left as usual from Yatri Niwas Jammu this morning for Pahalgam and Baltal. Number of pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji and Shri Amarnath ji shrine have reduced drastically due to bandh as people from outside the State have cancelled their visit in the absence of transport facilities. The yatris with their individual vehicles only were proceeding to the cave shrine. Today only 16,500 pilgrims reached Katra, the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine as against 21,493 on August 1. All shops, business establishments, hotels, cinema halls and other major installations remained closed in response to the bandh call. Some of the shops opened in the morning but shopkeepers downed their shutters later. Reports of complete bandh were received from Jammu City, its peripheries and outskirts and all major towns of Jammu districts. Reports of bandh were also received from Udhampur, Ramnagar and Chenani towns in Udhampur district, Hiranagar, Dayala Chak, Chadwal, Rajbagh, Ramkot, Kathua, Bani, Basohli and Billawar in Kathua district. At most of these places, shops and other business establishments remained closed and traffic in the interiors was also off the roads. Private traffic continued to ply at all the places. At several places excepting Jammu City, Advocates, youths and other people took out processions and rallies on two wheelers in support of the demand for setting up full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu. However, no untoward incident was reported from any of the towns, where the bandh was observed. At various places, Advocates, youths, political activists and other people took out rallies on foot, bikes and scooters and marches in the towns in processions demanding full-fledged AIIMS for Jammu. At some of the places, they also shouted slogans against the BJP for backtracking from its promise of setting up independent AIIMS in Jammu and compromising on 'similar facilities of AIIMS for Jammu and Kashmir regions'. Police administration had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure peace during the bandh. CRPF and police had been deployed in adequate strength at all sensitive places to maintain peace. Barring Kachi Chawni, CRPF and police didn't have to use force anywhere to control the protesters.