Police Arrest Leaders To Stifle Amarnath Land Row

27 July 2008

Srinagar: In a massive crackdown on pro-Amarnath land protesters in Jammu, the police have arrested several leaders in an effort to suppress the agitation against the revocation of the land allotted the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Those arrested include, Jammu mayor Kavinder Gupta, Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS) convener Leela Karan Sharma, senior BJP leader and former defence minister of state Chaman Lal Gupta and Jammu Bar president BS Salathia. The arrest follows as a consequence of the renewed agitation launched by SASS after Kuldeep Dogra, an SASS activist, who allegedly committed suicide to protest against the revocation order in the Amarnath land row. For the past four days, Jammu has been seething with anger prompting authorities to clamp curfew in some parts of the winter capital. People have defied restrictions and fought it out with the police. Several, including cops, suffered wounds in the clashes. “We had given a call for Sankalp Yatra (which expressed its full support and sympathy with the people fighting for their rights in Jammu in connection with the Amaranth issue) and the people were participating at the Parade Ground when a police contingent began arresting several leaders including Leela Karan Sharma who is spearheading the campaign against the land order revocation,” said Anan Sharma, president of the Kranti Dal, a constituent of SASS. Former defence minister of state Chaman Lal Gupta was also arrested from the Gandhi Nagar area from where he was heading to the Parade Ground. “He was not allowed to go to the ground. But authorities do not realise that this agitation will not fade away even if they arrest leaders,” said Sharma. State BJP chief, Ashok Khajuria, vowed to continue this struggle despite the arrest of several leaders. “Nothing can bog us down. Not even these coercive measures,” he said. “It is a renewed agitation. People are even offering water to protesters, which is an indicator of the public support they are receiving,” said Sharma.