With the tension mounting in Jammu, authorities have clamped curfew at the district headquarters of Rajouri even as the options of imposing curfew in the capital of Jammu and denying permission to a BJP delegation’s visit to Kishtwar were being considered at a high level meeting late on Saturday night.
Superintendent of Police Rajouri Mubassir Latifi confirmed to The Hindu that curfew was imposed on the township indefinitely late on Saturday. “We had serious apprehensions of trouble. Deputy Commissioner has now imposed curfew”, Mr Latifi said.
Sources said that in view of certain untoward incidents at New Plot and Gujjar Nagar on Saturday evening, tension was building up fast and the authorities were likely to announce imposition of curfew in the capital city of Jammu anytime around the midnight.
Authorities are understood to have decided to deny permission to a BJP delegation’s visit to the curfew-bound Kishtwar on Sunday. The BJP delegation, headed by the senior party leader Arun Jaitly, is scheduled to arrive at Jammu airport at 9.00 a.m. Mr Jaitley’s requisition for a helicopter to ferry the party’s delegation to Kishtwar was unlikely to meet a positive response.
Well placed authoritative sources revealed that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was not in favour of permitting any political visit to Kishtwar for the next few days as the situation in the curfew-bound town had not stabilized. Mr Jaitley and his party colleagues, according to the sources, are likely to be intercepted at Jammu airport and sent back in a plane as had been done by the Omar Abdullah government when Mr Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj wanted to join a BJP youth rally at Lakhnapur, on Punjab-J&K border, a few years back. Sources said that section 107 Criminal Procedure Code was likely to be invoked to prevent the BJP delegation from visiting Jammu, Kishtwar and other towns.
Party’s J&K spokesman and a member of the National Executive Dr Jitendar Singh has been reportedly stopped at Batote on Saturday and told that the Government was not permitting any political delegation’s visit to Kishtwar for now.
Tension prevailed in Jammu as the BJP in the evening announced to extend the shutdown to 72 hours. “Bandh will continue in Jammu province on Sunday and Monday”, a senior leader said.
Curfew continued in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday and the Army conducted a flag march to restore order after Friday’s riots left two persons dead and about 80 injured.
The Hindu-dominated Jammu province observed complete shutdown on a call from the Bharatiya Janata Party while the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley remained equally paralysed with a strike call from Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the radical faction of Hurriyat Conference.
Sources said that notwithstanding violent incidents and clashes over the last few days, pilgrimages to Budha Amarnath (Poonch), Machail (Kishtwar) and Amarnath (Kashmir) had not been terminated. “These are all in progress, though one or two of them has been suspended temporarily,” an official said.
Funeral rites of the two persons, Arvind Kumar Bhagat and Bashir Ahmad Mochi, were performed in the afternoon at Sangram Bata, in the periphery of the district headquarters in an emotionally-charged atmosphere. Twenty-three-year old Arvind is said to have died of bullet wounds near Kuleed Chowk where the clashes originated. Hindu activist groups insisted that the young man was fired upon from .12 bore single barrel gun by an arsonist while Muslims insisted that Arvind died in police firing. Everyone, now, is awaiting the post-mortem reports.
Bashir’s nondescript house is yards away from Arvind’s at Sangram Bata. Residents said that Bashir, the poor 4th class employee of the Public Health Engineering Department had been captured by a mob, beaten up mercilessly and burnt alive just as a hotel had been set ablaze. His charred body was later shifted to Chowgan Grounds. It was identified in the morning as Bashir had a metallic rod in his fractured arm. “Tragedy is not new to this family. Bashir’s brother Farooq who was a painter, fell last year from a jail building that was under-construction and died,” a relative said.
“Who cares for these sweepers and scavengers?,” sobbed Ghulam Mohammad, another relative.
Bashir’s wife Waheeda works as a sweeper at a tuition centre. His daughter Rabia is an Anganwadi worker and his son Danish is a 10th standard student.