Jammu Observes Complete Bandh On Day 1

31 July 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Jammu today observed a complete bandh on first day of 72 hours bandh call given by All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Coordination Committee seeking full-fledged AIIMS for Jammu and in protest against 'similar facilities of AIIMS' in both Jammu and Kashmir announced by Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda in New Delhi yesterday. Barring some incidents of violence including one outside the BJP Headquarters at Kachi Chawni, first day of the bandh by and large remained peaceful. Commercial traffic on Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankot National Highways and Jammu-Poonch road remained off while private vehicles plied normally barring the time the bandh protesters raised road blockades on the main roads by burning tyres and using other modes to block the roads. Tawi bridge, the vital road link between Jammu City, was also blocked for most of the time in the morning. Though the flights and trains operated normally, the people mostly the pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji and Shri Amarnath ji shrine had to face lot of difficulties to catch them due to non availability of commercial transport, which remained off the road throughout the day. The AIIMS CC activists including the lawyers led by CC chairman and Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Abhinav Sharma had major face off with BJP and BJYM leaders and activists outside the BJP Headquarters at Kachi Chawni at about 12 noon when the CC leaders were taking out a procession in the City while BJP and BJYM leaders and activists were coming out of their office celebrating sanction of equal AIIMS like facilities for both regions of Jammu and Kashmir, which were announced in New Delhi yesterday by Nadda. The CC activists indulged in massive sloganeering against the BJP charging the party with 'betrayal of Jammu cause' by getting approved only AIIMS like facilities for Jammu instead of full-fledged AIIMS, which had been promised in written assurance given to the CC by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and Forests Minister Bali Bhagat. The BJP and BJYM activists also started counter slogans dubbing the CC activists as 'stooges of NC and Congress', who were trying to destabilize the PDP-BJP Government at the behest of their 'political mentors'. Sensing trouble, CRPF and police, which had been deployed in strength at Kachi Chawni, swung into action and came between the CC activists and BJP workers. Senior police officers including SP City Shiv Kumar Chouhan, SDPO City Perbheet Singh and SHO Pacca Danga Kuldeep Khajuria tried to disperse both the groups but they indulged in massive sloganeering against each other. To avert clash between the two opponents, CRPF and police personnel fired teargas shells to disperse the two groups and prevent flare up in the trouble. Amidst tear smoking, some youths within the two groups also pelted stones on each other. After about 30 minutes of tear smoke shells and clashes, the two groups dispersed. Again after about half an hour, the CC activists tried to march towards Kachi Chawni but were prevented by police, which had blocked the road leading to the BJP Headquarters by raising barriers. However, the Advocates and other CC activists insisted on taking out the rally from outside the BJP Headquarters. After making all security arrangements outside the BJP office, police allowed the CC to take out the rally from Kachi Chawni. This time, the rallyists passed off peacefully raising slogans in support of their demand for full fledged AIIMS to Jammu and against the BJP for granting only AIIMS like facilities for Jammu. Right from the morning at 6 am, the bandh organizers parked vehicles in the middle of Tawi bridge and blocked traffic on either side of the City. While all mode of commercial transport was already off the roads as the transporters have also endorsed the CC's 72 hours bandh call, the movement of private vehicles was also disrupted. People travelling in private vehicles had to take to three other Tawi bridges to reach their destinations but this caused huge traffic jam despite commercial traffic being off the roads. The Tawi bridge remained blocked most of the time till this afternoon. Police, though, present in strength at the Tawi bridge, didn't try to remove the vehicles and other modes of blockades raised by the bandh supporters in a bid to avoid confrontation. The bridge was opened for traffic in the afternoon. The bandh supporters also blocked Jammu-Pathankot National Highway at Kunjwani and Bari Brahamana for a brief period by sitting on the road, burning tyres and parking vehicles in middle of the road. However, the highway was cleared for private vehicles by the police personnel after sometime. The bandh supporters dispersed peacefully. Majority of schools, colleges, Jammu University and other educational institutions remained closed in Jammu and other parts of the region though there was no official holiday declared by the administration. Attendance was also very thin in the offices of Central and State Governments in view of non availability of transport. Banks also remained closed. Only few Government employees could make it to the offices. Most of the commercial transport including buses, taxis, three-wheelers, trucks, matadors etc didn't come out of their Stands right from the morning. Few autos and buses, which came on the roads, went off immediately as the bandh supporters subjected them to stone pelting. Several vehicles were damaged in stone pelting. However, private vehicles remained on the roads barring the places, where the bandh supporters had raised road blockades by burning tyres and parking vehicles in middle of the road. There was no commercial traffic on Jammu-Srinagar, Jammu-Pathankot and Batote-Kishtwar National Highways in the absence of commercial vehicles, which didn't come out of the General Bus Stand and other such stands. Only private vehicles were seen plying on the Highways and other major roads like Jammu-Akhnoor-Rajouri-Poonch. Even private vehicular movement was disrupted on some occasion when the bandh supporters burnt tyres on the roads and highways. The people, who had to board flights and trains had to trek several kilometers. The worst affected were pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi ji and Amarnath ji shrines. However, the convoy of pilgrims of Amarnath ji left as usual from Yatri Niwas Jammu this morning for Pahalgam and Baltal. All shops, business establishments, hotels, cinema halls and other major installations remained closed in response to the bandh call. Some of the shops opened in the morning but shopkeepers downed their shutters later. Reports of complete bandh were received from Jammu City, its peripheries and outskirts and all major towns of Jammu district. Reports of bandh were also received from Udhampur, Ramnagar and Chenani towns in Udhampur district, Hiranagar, Dayala Chak, Chadwal, Rajbagh, Ramkot, Kathua, Basohli and Billawar in Kathua district. At most of these places, shops and other business establishments remained closed and traffic in the interiors was also off the roads. Private traffic continued to ply at all the places. However, no untoward incident was reported from any of the towns, where the bandh was observed. At various places, Advocates, youths, political activists and other people took out rallies on foot, bikes and scooters and marches in the towns in processions demanding full-fledged AIIMS for Jammu. At some of the place, they also shouted slogans against the BJP for backtracking from its promise of setting up independent AIIMS in Jammu and compromising on 'AIIMS like facilities' for the region. Police administration had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure peace during the bandh. CRPF and police had been deployed in adequate strength at all sensitive places to maintain peace. Barring Kachi Chawni, CRPF and police didn't have to use force anywhere to control the protesters. It may be mentioned here that Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda had yesterday stated that the Union Health Ministry is setting up an AIIMS in Jammu and Kashmir and will provide similar facilities of AIIMS in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions.