New Delhi bureau and agencies
BJP to continue agitation till its demand for land transfer to shrine board is met
NEW DELHI: Violence marred the “Bharat bandh” called by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Thursday to protest against non-transfer of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board in Jammu and Kashmir. Four persons died in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, where agitators set cars and buses afire and clashed with the police.
Curfew was imposed in four areas of Indore after the violence. Group clashes and violence were also reported from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. VHP-Bajrang Dal activists also fanned out in large numbers in different parts of the State capital to enforce the bandh. There was an angry face-off between groups belonging to two communities near Bhopal Talkies in the old Bhopal area. This was followed by heavy stone-throwing as a mob went berserk damaging property near Sabji Mandi. Police lobbed tear-gas shells and resorted to lathi-charge to control the crowd.
Many persons were injured during protests in Jammu and a large number of people were arrested.
The BJP said it would continue its agitation till 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 spokesperson 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?”
Billboards outside the party’s central office in New Delhi said that “100 crore Hindustanis will not beg for 100 acres of land” and “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 downing shutters voluntarily while in others groups of BJP workers forced them to shut down. Train services were affected at 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 Venkaiah Naidu, took part in the protests.
In West Bengal, the bandh had little impact, but in Kerala the state-run transport services were partially withdrawn after incidents of stone-throwing. In Karnataka, the response was mixed. In Maharashtra, VHP supporters reportedly halted traffic on some major roads in North Mumbai. Normal life was affected in parts of Punjab with the police using their canes to disperse crowds. Road and train traffic was affected in Ludhiana and Bhatinda and in Ambala protesters burnt effigies. In Gujarat, a BJP-ruled state, life was near normal. Mr. Javadekar said the state would register its protest another day as Jagannath yatras were being taken out at 21 places on Thursday.