AIIMS CC Suspends Jammu Bandh As GoI Writes To State For Identifying Land

5 August 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Nishikant Khajuria

Jammu: Amidst a high voltage drama and vociferous reservations of a few members, the AIIMS Coordination Committee today suspended its six-day long Jammu bandh after a written communiqué of the Government of India regarding identifying land for setting up AIIMS at Jammu but the ongoing chain hunger strike and peaceful movement will continue till further clarification on the target. Even as the president of Bar Association Jammu and Chairman of the AIIMC CC, Abhinav Sharma; president of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Rakesh Gupta; chairman of Transporters Association, Trilochan Singh Wazir and others expressed satisfaction over the essence of Government order on identifying land, Judge (Retd) Paviter Singh, Advocate B S Slathia and a few other members of the Coordination Committee loudly registered their reservation on suspending Jammu Bandh and strongly pressed for continuing the agitation. Differences in the ACC led to a high-voltage drama and open allegations against each other at the Jammu Club this afternoon and thereafter at Chamber House before a formal announcement on suspending Jammu Bandh was made in the evening. 'The Coordination Committee is suspending the Jammu Bandh as we are satisfied with the Union Health Ministry's official communiqué to State Government for identifying alternate sites of 200 Acres land at Srinagar as well as Jammu for establishment of AIIMS in J&K but our peaceful chain hunger strike and mobilizing public opinion will continue till further clarification on full fledged AIIMS in Jammu with all 26 Faculties, separate budget and independent directorate,' said Abhinav Sharma, while addressing a crowded press conference along with other members of the Committee. Justifying the decision of suspending Jammu Bandh, the ACC chairman said that getting further clarification on the issue, as demanded earlier by them, was not possible for the Union Government as the Parliament Session was in progress. 'We are closely watching all the related developments and if the Government of India fails to comply with the clarification, the AIIMS CC will resume its strike with indefinite Jammu Bandh,' he added and informed that the Coordination Committee would meet soon for discussing further strategy on the issue. 'We are satisfied with the essence of the Government communication on land identification and also convinced that right step has been taken by the Union Health Ministry. Let us give them some time till the Parliament Session is on,' said Rakesh Gupta while rejecting the criticism of AIIMS CC decision on suspending Jammu Bandh. In response to a query that there was no mention of two separate AIIMS in the Government communication, the CCI president quipped, 'if we get all the AIIMS facilities in Jammu, then what is the problem in accepting the same?' Except Judge (Retd) Paviter Singh, Advocate B S Slathia and other senior members of the Coordination Committee were present in the press conference. They included Sham Langer, Narayan Singh, Anan Sharma, Arun Gupta, Rajiv Chuni and others. Earlier, talking to media persons at the State Guest House, Minister for Health, Choudhary Lal Singh informed that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked the State Government, through a communication, to identify alternate sites of 200 Acres land for setting up of AIIMS in Jammu and Srinagar. 'Joint Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Sunil Sharma in a letter to Secretary Health and Medical Education Department, Jammu and Kashmir Government, M K Bhandari, has asked to expedite the process for establishment of AIIMS in J&K as two Central teams have been constituted to visit the State to finalize the sites at Jammu and Srinagar,' he said and added that the Union Health Ministry has also sent a check list with certain instructions to be followed while identifying the two sites. Producing copies of the communication, he said that immediately after receiving the letter from Union Health Ministry, the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu have been asked to start the process for identification of suitable land in the twin capitals of the State. 'The process of land identification is being taken up immediately in consonance with the instructions given in check list as the Union Health Ministry has advised the State Government to complete the process so that the Central teams visiting the State could finalize the sites to pave the way for laying foundation stone to establish AIIMS in Srinagar and Jammu as early as possible,' he added. Besides lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Union Health Minister J P Nadda for considering the demand on AIIMS in Jammu, Lal Singh also appreciated the AIIMC Coordination Committee for its struggle. Minister for Industries and Commerce Chander Parkash Ganga, Minister for Social Welfare, Bali Bhagat, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for Transport Abdul Gani Kohli, Minister of State for Education, Information and Culture Priya Sethi, MLAs Sat Pal Sharma, Rajesh Gupta and Shakti Parihar were also present in the press conference. Soon after the announcements by Choudhary Lal Singh and AIIMS Coordination Committee, entire Jammu once again came to hustle bustle after a complete Bandh since last Friday. Even as a few shops were seen open in the markets on sixth day of the Bandh earlier, the public transport completely remained off the road thus forcing the people to march on foot for reaching their destinations. All private schools remained closed while the attendance in Government run educational institutions and offices, was thin. At a few places, supports of AIIMS CC were seen raising slogans but no untoward incident took place as there was heavy deployment of Police all over the city and adjoining areas. As the differences among ACC members surfaced over the issue of Jammu Bandh, both Abhinav Sharma and B S Slathia levelled allegations against each other while addressing the gathering at site of chain hunger strike. When the ACC members were addressing press conference at Chamber Bhawan, Mr Slathia reached at the dharna site and alleged sell out by some vested interests without naming anyone. Later, Abhinav Sharma along with Narayan Singh also reached there and countered the allegations by justifying the decision to suspend Jammu Bandh even as Mr Slathia had left the scene by then. Abhinav alleged that some members were playing in the hands of Congress party and had been acting like guided missiles. According to sources, a series of meetings were earlier held between the AIIMS CC members and the Administration wherein the agreement was reached out for suspending Jammu Bandh keeping in view latest development on Government communiqué for identification of the land sites. However, following stiff resistance of a few members against suspending Jammu Bandh, the decision for holding a joint media briefing by the ACC and Health Minister Lal Singh was put off thus resulting to separate press conferences, sources said. The press conference by ACC was even delayed for some time following open revolt against suspending Jammu Bandh. Even as a last ditch effort was made to pacify all and an emergency meeting was held, Paviter Singh, Inderjeet Khajuria and other members of JPPF refused to attend the press conference while B S Slathia had already left the venue. A few agitated members were seen openly hurling allegations of sell out by the Coordination Committee members.