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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Highway cleared for traffic, Amarnath yatra resumes

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Jammu, July 20, 2013
First Published: 19:50 IST(20/7/2013) | Last Updated: 23:56 IST(20/7/2013)

The Jammu-Srinagar national highway was reopened for vehicular traffic and Amarnath yatra also resumed on Saturday evening, two days after four people were killed in a firing allegedly by the Border Security Force (BSF) in Gool area of Ramban district, about 200 km from Jammu city.

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The traffic authorities decided to open traffic only from Srinagar to Jammu around 5pm after protests in Banihal subsided by the afternoon. Bandhs and protests were held in Banial town for the second consecutive day and protesters had blocked the national highway and burned tyres.

About 1,000 vehicles, mostly of Amarnath pilgrims, from Kashmir division crossed Jawahar tunnel and passed off peacefully. In the evening, the administration also decided to resume the yatra and at 5pm a batch of 1,834 pilgrims left from Jammu base camp.

However, the local administration said the decision to allow the next batch on Sunday would be taken only after reviewing the situation.

In Gool area, where killing had taken place, a complete bandh was observed. Local residents had given a call for three-day bandh, which would end on Monday. Though the BSF battalion had left the area and moved to its headquarters in Ramban town, simmering unrest was witnessed in the area.

Local residents have demanded immediate action against the accused. The Jammu and Kashmir government had already announced magisterial inquiry and registration of an FIR in the case. The home ministry, which controls paramilitary forces, has already ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Bandh was also observed in Dharam, Sangaldham and Magarokote area of Ramban district, though commercial establishments remained opened on Saturday. The continuous suspension of Amarnath yatra had put pilgrims in discomfort.

"We had come here on Thursday and for the past three days we are staying in the camp. Our return tickets stand cancelled as we wouldn't be able to come back on the scheduled date. It has affected our budget also. We might cancel the yatra only and return to our homes without darshan," said one of the yatris camping at a base camp in Jammu city.

Meanwhile, outgoing deputy commissioner (DC) Shyam Vinod Meena had denied media reports that he had issued orders for the firing.

The violence on Thursday was on account of a suspected desecration of the Quran. The BSF dismissed the allegations, saying that a mob had attacked their camp, indulged in firing and tried to storm the storehouse of arms and ammunition around 6.30am on Thursday.

Pakistan on Friday expressed "its deep concern" over the incident and called for an investigation.


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