Jammu Serves Another Ultimatum To Centre, State With Unprecedented Bandh

27 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In a strong message to the Centre that it wouldn't tolerate any injustice on the issue of setting up of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jammu today observed another unprecedented bandh, second in little over a month, that even prompted Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to remark that it was worrisome for the BJP that the region was shut during his visit here to celebrate one year of Narendra Modi Government. After complete shutdown on April 24, Jammu observed another bandh today in response to the call given by the Coordination Committee led by Bar Association Jammu and supported by Chamber of Commerce and Industry and various other political, social, transport, trade and religious organisations demanding setting up of AIIMS for Jammu, which has been shifted to Kashmir by the present PDP-BJP Government after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the Institute for Jammu and Kashmir. 'A very strong message has gone to BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre and PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir with today's spontaneous bandh by the traders, transporters, shopkeepers, educational institutions and even by the Government staff by staying away from the offices that the brazen act of discrimination with Jammu region by denying it the deserving AIIMS will not be tolerated,' a cross section of society to whom the Excelsior spoke during the bandh in the day today said. They said the BJP shouldn't live in fool's paradise that by joining the Government it can do whatever it wants to appease the people of Kashmir at the cost of Jammu. 'We (the people of Jammu region) deserve the AIIMS and we know how to get it. We will get it at any cost. We have fought many agitations in past to get our rights and we are ready for big struggle to achieve our goal,' they added. Though there were very few bandh organizers on the road, the shopkeepers and traders voluntarily downed their shutters right from the morning including the Jammu City, its peripheries and outskirts. All kind of commercial transport was off the roads. All major towns in Jammu also observed complete bandh with shops closed and traffic off the roads. At some places, the Advocates were seen moving in the vehicles calling upon the people to observe bandh but the traders had already downed their shutters. Bar Association president Abhinav Sharma personally spearheaded the Bar campaign against the bandh on Jammu roads. All kind of commercial transport remained ground at the Bus Stands and other places. Buses, matadors, three wheelers and other modes of commercial transport were off the roads in entire Jammu City, other major roads and National Highways of Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar. Only private cars and scooters were seen moving on the roads and the Highways. Apart from shops, all other major business establishments, including vegetable and fruit markets, hotels, guest houses etc remained closed. Except yatri vehicles, commercial transport didn't come out of Katra bus stand, the base camp of holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi ji. However, the yatri vehicles plied normally but the pilgrims had to face inconvenience in the absence of buses and most of them had to take the train route to reach to Jammu to pick long route buses and trains. Transport authorities hadn't made any arrangements to take pilgrims from Katra to Jammu. All major towns on the two National Highways of Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar, Jammu-Akhnoor and Jammu-RS Pura roads also observed complete bandh in support of the demand for opening of AIIMS in Jammu. Not only the shops were closed, even rehris didn't turn up on the roads as a mark of support to the bandh. All long route intra-State and inter-State buses didn't ply throughout the day today leaving National Highways and major roads virtually deserted. Only few private cars and two-wheelers were seen moving on the roads. Few commercial vehicles, which turned up on the roads early in the morning went off within few minutes after volunteers told them to do so. 'It was a unique bandh. We have seen the BJP activists only enforcing bandh but today the Congress and National Panthers Party workers and activists of various other social, religious, trade, industry and transport organisations apart from the Bar Association, the major bandh organizer along with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were seen enforcing the bandh while the BJP workers were busy mobilizing the people for the rally of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh,' the eye-witnesses said, adding that complete bandh in Jammu in little over a month has given very strong and clear message to the BJP that bandh can be observed without them and even against them when justice with the Jammu region matters. All educational institutions including Jammu University, colleges, Government and private schools, banks and majority of Government offices were also closed during the bandh. Majority of the Government staff couldn't make it to the offices, colleges and schools in the absence of conveyance. Some of the institutions had postponed their exams in view of the bandh call. It was an unofficial holiday in the educational institutions and Government offices as neither the staff nor the students could make it to the schools or offices due to strict bandh. Some of the banks, which opened in the morning, were closed immediately after the bandh volunteers approached them. Though police authorities had made elaborate security arrangements in Jammu with deployment of para-military and police personnel and barricading several Chowks, the bandh passed off peacefully with no untoward incident being reported from any part of the region. 'There was no report of any clash between bandh supporters and police as the former remained completely peaceful and didn't indulge in any kind of violence. Authorities had, however, deployed adequate police and para-military personnel on the roads used by Rajnath Singh to travel in Jammu during his day long visit. There were very few places on the roads, where the bandh supporters had to burn tyres to block the traffic as there was virtually no traffic on the roads. Work in all the Courts including main Courts in Jammu was disrupted as Advocates stayed away from the work as it was the Bar Association, which had given the call for Jammu bandh, which had been supported by others. Works in all district and tehsil courts was also badly hit. Advocates held protest demonstrations at various other places and extended full support to the demand for establishment of AIIMS. In Kathua, a complete bandh was observed with shops and all other business establishments closed and traffic off the roads on the Highway and main City roads. Few vehicles were seen plying in the internal roads. Several organisations took out protest demonstrations and burnt effigies of the Government demanding setting up of an AIIMS in Jammu. All major towns on the National Highway from Jammu to Kathua also observed bandh. In Udhampur, the bandh was total with shops and other business concerns closed. Traffic was off on the Highway while private vehicles plied on the interior roads. Bandh supporters marched to National Highway and major roads and blocked traffic while shouting slogans against Centre and State Governments for denying AIIMS to Jammu. Other important towns of Udhampur district including Ramnagar also observed bandh. Reasi town too observed complete bandh but it was business as usual in Katra town, the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine, where shops, hotels, dhabas and other establishments remained open. However, shops were closed in Reasi town. Katra town had been spared of the bandh to ensure that the pilgrims were not subjected to inconvenience. However, commercial traffic was also off the roads in Reasi. An official handout issued by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Bar Association Jammu said the All Party Co-ordination Committee met after complete bandh in Jammu under the chairmanship of Bar president Abhinav Sharma and hailed Bar Associations in Jammu region and business and social organisations for extending their support to bandh. The meeting was also attended by Rakesh Gupta, president, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tarlochan Singh Wazir, chairman Transport Association, Annan Sharma, president Tankers Association, and Yash Pal Gupta, president Federation of Retailers Association. The handout said the peaceful procession of these Associations was taken out in Jammu City from High Court complex and later to KK Resorts, where Rajnath Singh was addressing the rally. 'The processionists communicated strong resentment on behalf of the people from Jammu province and sought reversal of the Government decision of shifting AIIMS from Jammu to Kashmir,' the handout added. It said Abhinav Sharma, chairman, Coordination Committee reiterated his demand to the elected members from Jammu province in the Government formation to make public statement with regard to their stands on the AIIMS, which is genuine demand of the masses of Jammu province. He added that future course of action to get the AIIMS for Jammu will be decided in next meeting scheduled to be held shortly. Meanwhile, the slogan coined by BJP to brow beat its opponents for decades together during the protest rallies and demonstrations for the rights of nationalist people while being in the opposition today boomeranged on it when the bandh enforcers and protestors demanding establishment of AIIMS at Jammu used it against the party. The protestors and bandh enforcers were so critical of coalition Government in general and BJP in particular for playing with the aspirations and sentiments of Jammu people that after giving police and security agencies a complete slip at Bohri Chungi, Naka they managed to reach the front gate of K K Resorts, the venue of Rajnath Singh's rally just few minutes before the arrival of Union HM. The protestors who came in four vehicles including members of Bar Association and other organizations were led by president of Bar Abhinav Sharma. Shouting slogans on roof tops of vehicles that Jammu should get back the AIIMS and 'Desh Key Gadaroon Ko Jutay Maro Saloon Ko', they accused BJP leadership of 'betrayal with Jammu'. The tampers ran high as some BJP activists also came out from K K Resorts creating an awkward position for police and security agencies. The protestors with black flags and black badges protested in front of the Gate for about 10 minutes. Later the Bar president addressed the protestors and warned BJP not to play with people's sentiments. 'It was with the support of common masses of Jammu and not with the support of Party activists that BJP got 25 seats and joined power'. 'The Party will face a complete rout in case it betrays the people and fails to come up to their expectations', he added. He warned the Party leadership not to take the people of the region for granted and realize their duty towards the masses. To give police a slip, the protestors came with BJP flags in their hands to cross Bohri Chungi and other police nakas and after reaching the venue of rally they threw the Party flags on ground and took up black flags and badges and protested in a dramatic way just few minutes after the arrival of Union Home Minister. Later senior police officers reached the spot and convinced the protestors to disperse and tension was defused.