The tricolour fluttered in Jammu as surging crowds trooped out, breaking barricades, shouting slogans and courting arrest.
The calm that prevailed till mid-morning was suddenly shattered when crowds from narrow lanes and by-lanes sprung out, surprising the security forces and the media.
The zoom and pan of the camera fell far short of the marching men, women and children.
“More than three lakh people had come to take part in our jail bharo andolan, from Lakahanpur to Banihal,” said Leela Karan Sharma, convenor of the Shri Amarnath Sangarash Samiti. “All communities and parties took part in it.”
Such was the number of those courting arrest that police had to herd them into the MAM stadium, which has a 70-000 capacity. Some incidents of violence were reported with vehicles being set afire and others being damaged.
“I have not seen this kind of frenzy ever before. It shows our determination,” said Tilak Raj Sharma who had participated in 1953 Praja Parishad agitation.
People scaled walls of police stations at Pacca Danga, Rehari in the city and in the highway town of Udhampur to force entry. They took control of the police stations, some filled the verandas others took to rooftops.
Many were garlanded, an “honour” that came with being a volunteer for the Samiti’s court arrest plan. “Yeh matwale kahan chale? Jail chale, jail chale (Where are these people headed? To jail) and “Bamb Bamb Bhole” rent the air.
“We will not rest till the land is restored to the shrine board,” Sharma declared to a thunderous applause.
By afternoon, there was no place where the authorities could take the agitators. They were let off. Now they are waiting for tomorrow, when women will stage the court arrest. “Yet another tough day ahead,” an official said.