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Amarnath fire spreads to hills

The agitation in Jammu over the land transfer to the Amarnath shrine being revoked has now spread to hilly areas as well, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2008 00:28 IST
Arun Joshi

The agitation in Jammu over the land transfer to the Amarnath shrine being revoked has now spread to hilly areas as well. Authorities clamped curfew on the communally sensitive areas of Rajouri and Udhampur districts and Bhaderwah town on Sunday. The state government also blacked out two local news channels — Take 1 and JK channel — and suspended SMS services to check “rumours”. However, late in Sunday, the Government claimed it had lifted “ban” on two local TV channels.

“There was a threat of the situation taking a turn for the worse. In order to save lives and property, we have tried to put a lid on the situation by imposing curfew,” said K Rajendra, IG, Jammu.

Officials descended on the premises of the two channels and served notices on them, charging them with broadcasting “provocative” material on the unrest in the region.

Moreover, some senior journalists were injured and manhandled in police action on Sunday. Aaj Tak bureau chief Ashwani Kumar was seriously wounded as the police threw teargas shells on journalists. An NDTV cameraman, Ashu, was manhandled and assaulted by policemen.

The whole media fraternity has condemned the incident as a “hammer stroke on the freedom of expression”. Army flag marches continued at regular intervals to keep the volatile situation in check.

The two districts of Jammu and Samba are already under curfew. The army has been staging flag marches in the town since Saturday, a day after the situation became highly volatile following the two persons being killed in police on Friday.

However, authorities ensured supplies to the Valley. More than 500 trucks carrying food have reached Srinagar, said officials. The police and army have provided security cover to the trucks plying on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only road link between the Valley to the rest of the country.

Sonia calls up Rajnath

In a new political initiative, Congress president Sonia Gandhi called up BJP chief Rajnath Singh to seek his party’s cooperation to stop violence in the Jammu region over the Amarnath land transfer row.

Describing him as a “matured” leader, she asked Singh to see if his party leaders could persuade the agitation leaders to call off their stir.

In his response, Singh told her that the government should take some initiatives to calm down the inflamed passion in the region.