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Land row: 2 killed in Jammu clashes

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
August 01, 2008 22:51 IST
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Situation in Jammu worsened further on Friday evening after two persons were killed in during clashes in the highway town of Samba.

Curfew imposed in Jammu

Police had to fire at the agitating mobs after they blocked the road, pelted passing vehicles, ransacked a post office and attacked the office of the district magistrate and town's police station, resulting in on-the-spot death of two persons and injuries to four others.

Besides the four injured civilians, 13 cops have also been shifted to Jammu hospital for specialised treatment.

However, K Rajendra, Inspector General of Police (Jammu zone) told "The two persons were killed during firing exchange between two groups. Police didn't open fire in Samba."

Rajendra said an indefinite curfew had now been imposed in the Samba town and paramilitary forces deployed to restore order.

"We tried to persuade them to clear the Jammu-Srinagar highway, but instead they indulged in violence," Saurav Bhagat, deputy commissioner-Samba, said.

Jammu has been in the throes of violent protests, demonstrations and intermittent curfew and a total shut down for the last ten days in protest against the cancellation of the land allotment order to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board by the state government following an agitation in the valley.

The resultant agitation in Jammu has gained intensity in the past one week.

The authorities had a difficult time on Friday after thousands of protestors blocked the airport road and later indulged in stone pelting at the airport complex, where former state chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba

Mufti had come for a meeting with the state governor. The two leaders were driven to Raj Bhavan in a security-fortified motorcade by state Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khuda.

At one time the state authorities planned to airlift Dr Farooq and Mehbooba Mufti to Raj Bhavan, after protestors refused to make way for the two leaders to be driven to Governor's residence in Jammu.

As the two leaders reached Raj Bhavan, thousands of protestors gathered outside and indulged in pelting on police.

The protestors torched a police post at Panjthirthi near the Raj Bhavan.

The authorities imposed curfew late this afternoon in Jammu city to control the situation and the army and paramilitary asked to standby to meet any eventuality of the situation.

The state governor in a bid to mollify the leadership of the Amarnath Sanghersh Samiti called a meeting of its leaders who, however, refused to budge from the stated position and demanded the restoration of the land and management of annual yatra to the Shrine board as a condition for continuation of the talks. 

The priority for the state government now seems to clear the Srinagar Kathua national highway to restore flow of supplies to the valley and also facilitate the transportation of Kashmir fruit to Delhi and other places.

Due to the blockade of the highway, the plucked fruit is rotting in various stores in the valley.
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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar