New Delhi bureau and agencies

Four killed in violence in Indore, normal life hit in parts of Punjab

NEW DELHI: Violence marred the ‘Bharat bandh’ called by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to protest against non-transfer of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board. Four people died in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, where agitators set cars and buses ablaze and clashed with the police. The BJP said it would continue its agitation until its demand for transfer of land to the board was met. Protest rallies are being planned in various State and district capitals from July 4 to 11.

Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said: “Nearly half of Jammu and Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan and huge chunks have been grabbed by China, what is the problem with giving a few acres of land to the Shrine Board?”

Bill boards outside the party’s central office said that “100 crore Hindustanis will not beg for 100 acres of land” and the “BJP will not tolerate insult to devotees of Lord Shiva.”

The response to the bandh call was partial in most States with shops in some areas voluntarily downing the shutters while in others BJP workers forced them to shut down. Train services were affected in several places.

In Uttar Pradesh the Shatabdi Express was stopped at Agra Cantonment, the Ahmedabad-Varanasi Sabarmati Express at Orai and the Howrah-Dehra Dun Express at Mughalsarai, each for a few minutes. More than 50 BJP workers were arrested in and around Lucknow, while in Delhi senior BJP leaders, including M. Venkaiah Naidu, participated in the protests.

In West Bengal the bandh cal had little impact, but in Kerala state-run transport services were partially withdrawn after stone-throwing. In several places protesters blocked highways.

In Karnataka the response was mixed – while in Bangalore life remained near normal with schools and business offices open as usual, in some districts of Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Udupi and Mysore, bus services came to a halt and business activities shut down.

No major untoward incidents were reported barring stone pelting in a few places.

In Maharashtra VHP supporters halted traffic on some major roads in North Mumbai causing snarls and delaying office-goers. The police later dispersed the protesters.

Normal life was affected in parts of Punjab with the police wielding canes to disperse crowds. Road and train traffic was affected in Ludhiana and Bhatinda and in Ambala protesters burnt effigies.

Near-normal in Gujarat

In the BJP-ruled Gujarat, life was near normal.

Mr. Javadekar said the State would register its protest on another day as Jagannath yatras were being taken out at 21 places on Thursday.

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