Over 36 people, including some policemen, were injured as police fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas shells to disperse a violent stone-throwing mob in Jammu on Tuesday.
The mob had gathered around Abhinav Theatre where government functionaries were attending a cultural show to mark the closing ceremony of Independence-day celebrations.
Rumours had it that former chief minister Farooq Abdullah was in the audience and groups of youth from various localities gathered outside the building.
As the clashes spread to adjoining areas, the police had to cordon off the place.
The protesters demanded that the function organised by the Department of Information and Public Relations and attended by top administrative and police officials be immediately stopped.
As the fracas grew violent, the Rapid Action Force joined the police and the army too was called in. As the protesters pelted stones, security forces caned the people and used tear gas shelling to disperse the crowd.
Sub Divisional Police Officer (Jammu West) R.K. Chalotra was among the injured. Hindustan Times photographer Mukesh Gupta was also hurt. The function had to be called off mid-way. Security forces had erected barbed wires at the protest venue.
Solution in sight?
A new formula that the government hopes will be acceptable to all has been worked out. An invitation has been sent to the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti.
As per the formula, the government is ready to work out an arrangement of use of the land by the shrine board for the pilgrimage period and all the pilgrimage responsibility will be that of the Samiti.
The move has been initiated by Governor N.N. Vohra. Meanwhile National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan will be visiting the state on Wednesday to make a spot assessment of the situation.