Complete, peaceful bandh in Jammu20 December 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: A complete and peaceful bandh was observed in almost all the parts of Jammu region on the call given by the Bar Association of Jammu and supported by various political, trade, social and other organizations in protest against the Government’s move to transfer powers of registration of land documents from Judicial Officers to the Executive Officers. The agitating lawyers also held protest demonstration and staged dharna outside the official residence of Minister for Revenue, Raman Bhalla at Gandhi Nagar and in front of Mini-Stadium Udhampur where Minister for Higher Education, Abdul Gani Malik was attending a function. Due to the strike, normal life remained out of gear with public transport remaining off the roads causing great inconvenience to the common masses in general and tourists and pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi in particular. All the business establishments and majority of the educational institutions remained closed and attendance was thin in the Government offices and banks. All the bazaars of the Jammu wore deserted look throughout the day as there was hardly any association or body which had not extended full support to the Bar Association of Jammu in its ongoing struggle against the Government’s ‘ill-advised’ move. A number of tourists and pilgrims were seen covering distance on foot from Railway Station to their respective destinations and others putting up in the waiting halls of the Railway Station till this evening when some passenger vehicles started plying on few routes. In Jammu, over 1000 lawyers led by Bar president, B S Slathia, gathered in the High Court Complex and held massive protest demonstration before taking out rally in protest against the Government’s move to transfer registration of land documents from Judicial Officers to Executive Officers, which according to the agitating lawyers, would promote corrupt practices. Due to massive participation in the protest, Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court remained trapped in the jamming on the road leading to High Court for sometime. The rally, which started from the High Court Complex at Janipur passed through various areas of the Jammu before reaching Gandhi Nagar, where the lawyers held protest demonstration and staged dharna outside the official residence of Minister for Revenue, Raman Bhalla amidst anti-Government slogans. On way to Gandhi Nagar, the agitating lawyers also blocked the Tawi Bridge for quite sometime. The lawyers expressed serious concern over the stoic silence maintained by the Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand and Minister for Revenue, Raman Bhalla, even after a month long agitation against the Government move, which they said would only facilitate the land-mafia and regulate the illegal land-encroachments by the powerful and influential persons. Interacting with media-persons outside Mr Bhalla’s residence, Mr Slathia expressed dismay at the immaturity being exhibited by the Government. He urged the Government in general and the Ministers from Jammu in particular to read the writing on the wall and take immediate steps to assure the people across the State of a good-governance. He lambasted the Government for imposing a system upon the common masses which only facilitates the land-grabbers and land-mafia active in and around Jammu province. The Bar president urged the Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, to issue a whip to the Ministers from Congress party for reviewing the decision of the Cabinet on registration issue keeping in view the aspirations of the people. Addressing the agitating lawyers, general secretary of the Bar, Vikram Sharma, warned the Government against going ahead with its pro-land mafia move. 'The Bar Association has taken up the cause for the benefit of the general public and in no way will allow the Government to impose draconian concept of transferring powers of registration from Judicial Officers to Revenue Officers', he said. Usman Salaria, vice-president said, 'the Government is meant for the benefit of the common masses and it should realize that common man doesn’t want to be thrown into corruption-ridden system', adding 'Government should respect the sentiments of common masses, who are feeling insecure by the encouragement being given to the land-mafia'. Reports said that complete bandh was also observed in Reasi, Katra, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Hiranagar, R S Pura, Rajouri, Poonch, Nowshera, Surankote, Ramban, Batote and tehsils of the Jammu province. At all these places, the agitating lawyers took out protest rallies against the Government. In Udhampur, a group of agitating lawyers held protest demonstration outside the Mini-Stadium where Minister for Higher Education, Abdul Gani Malik was attending a function. Meanwhile, the Bar Association of Jammu, which is spearheading the agitation with the active support of several political parties, transport, trade, social and other organizations, will decide future course of action in the General House Meeting to be held tomorrow afternoon.