Parts of Jammu on Tuesday observed shutdown over the killing of 7 Amarnath pilgrims and injuries to 14 others in a suspected militant attack in Islamabad district of Southern Kashmir.
Muslims too downed their shutters and joined the protests voluntarily. Muslim dominated localities of Gujjarnagar, Talab Khatikan, Bhathindi, Sunjawan, Gujjar Colony, Ustad Mohallah, Sidhra, Qasim Nagar, Chatta and Bajalta in Jammu district observed complete shutdown over the killing of the 7 Hindu pilgrims. Mohalla committees of all these localities voluntarily decided to participate in the Bandh against the killings. They held protest demonstrations, demanding that the perpetrators of this ghastly act should be dealt the way Islam teaches.
Mobile internet services were snapped late in the night while only Broadband was working all over Jammu region.
Minority community members downed their shutters in Bhaderwah, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Banihal, Rajouri, Poonch, Surankote and Nowshera areas of Jammu region.
Both Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankote highways remained shut for traffic due to protests, tyre-burning and sit-downs by the activists and workers of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Congress, National Conference and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Though the vehicles carrying Amarnath bound pilgrims were allowed to ply on both the highways but no movement of local vehicles was permitted.
All Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Srinagar, Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi bound vehicles were halted at Nagrota and other places. They were told to return back as police and administration apprehended trouble. Police advised all travellers to re-schedule their travel plans. Sources in the police told Kashmir Life that they had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure that there are no retaliatory attacks on the truckers and vehicle owners with Kashmir numbers.
They added that the comprehensive security cover ensured safety of the vehicles stuck in various parts of the Jammu region on the Jammu-Pathankote and Jammu-Srinagar highway. Police confirmed that there was no report of any attack on vehicles with registration number of Kashmir valley. Attendance in government offices remained thin while authorities had already ordered closure of all the educational institutions that had opened purely for the admission purpose.
Banks too witnessed thin attendance. Meanwhile, day-long shutdown saw activists and workers of National Panthers Party (JKNPP), Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Congress, National Conference and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) holding protests, taking out bike rallies, burning effigies of state government, stopping traffic on highway and forcing shopkeepers to down their shutters.
Protestors blocked highways at several places in Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Samba districts. Over 200 activists of the JKPCC thronged Rehari belt of Jammu city and held protests against the killing of pilgrims. They raised anti-government and anti-BJP slogans and demanded that the PDP-BJP government should be sacked. Led by ex-Minister Harshdev Singh, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) activists held demonstration in Dogra Chowk.
They burnt tyres and demanded that Mehbooba Mufti government be sacked for its total failure to protect the pilgrims. “This is the biggest failure of the BJP-PDP government in J&K and the BJP government at the Centre on the security front. They should own responsibility for failure to prevent the terror attack and resign,” said Harshdev Singh. He added that the attack took purely because of the in-effective state government.
Congress workers led by former Minister Raman Bhalla also took out a rally and held demonstrations in the city. Amid anti-government slogans, they burnt effigy of the state government and demanded imposition of Governor’s rule in the state. In Udhampur, JKNPP held protests and burnt tyres on the highway amid anti-government slogans. The VHP and Bajrang Dal also held rallies in the city amid anti-government slogans.
National Conference workers took out protest rallies against the state government and sought adequate protection of the Amarnath Yatra bound pilgrims. NC provincial President Devinder Rana said that it is a nefarious design to vitiate the secular fabric of the state and we all must unitedly work to thwart this conspiracy against the idea of Jammu and Kashmir and the idea of India. Describing Amarnath Yatra as perhaps the only unique pilgrimage across the world which is being performed by one community and facilitated by the another community.
“Amarnath Yatra is a shining symbol of Kashmiriyat and the valley’s pluralistic ethos that has withstood test of times”, Rana said while exuding confidence that militants cannot succeed in breaking the core of Kashmir ethos by such dastardly acts. He said people of the state and country will see through nefarious game plan and remain vigilant against their mechanizations. “We, in Jammu and Kashmir, should close our ranks in combating terror and isolate the peace inimical elements by further strengthening bonds of amity and brotherhood”, he maintained.
President of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Rakesh Gupta said “This Bandh is to send a clear message to the perpetrators of this ghastly crime that the state is united against them. They would not be allowed to succeed in their evil designs.” He added that the call has evoked maximum response from all over Jammu region. “We are united and that is what is needed. We won’t let the militants succeed in their evil designs,” added Gupta.