Normal life affected at many places; Uttar Pradesh remains peaceful
JAIPUR: Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists stormed into the “Vishram Sthali” (temporary shelter) for Urs pilgrims to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s dargah in Ajmer during the bandh called on the Amarnath shrine land issue on Thursday and hurled stones, damaging a large number of shops and vehicles.
Terrified pilgrims ran helter-skelter and many of them were injured. Sangh Parivar workers also tried to put roadblocks outside the city to stop buses carrying pilgrims to the dargah. The 796th Urs is likely to start on Saturday after the sighting of the moon for the Rajab month of Hijri calendar.
The police chased away demonstrators and tightened security around the dargah. Thousands of pilgrims are arriving in Ajmer to attend the annual week-long Urs, for which the flag ceremony was held this past Monday.
Elsewhere in Rajasthan, incidents of violence were reported in Bhilwara, Didwana, Udaipur, Chittaurgarh and Sriganganagar. With the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party extending support to the bandh, markets were closed in the majority of towns across the State.
There was a clash between members of two communities in Bhilwara, though no one was seriously injured.
Commuters had a tough time in Jaipur as the city buses did not ply. The bandh call had a poor response in Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts of Shekhawati region.
Atiq Khan reports from Lucknow: The bandh passed off peacefully in Uttar Pradesh with no incident of violence reported from anywhere. However, BJP and VHP activists stopped the Shatabdi Express at Agra Cantonment railway station and the Ahmedabad-Varanasi Sabarmati Express at Orai railway station.
I-G (Law and Order) Bhanu Pratap Singh told reporters here that the train stoppages were for barely a few minutes. Mr. Singh said similar scene was witnessed at Mughalsarai railway station where the Howrah-Dehra Dun Express was stopped by the agitators.
In Lucknow, the BJP MLA from Lucknow Cantonment, Suresh Tewari, was arrested along with about 55 BJP workers at the Alamnagar crossing. They were taken to the police lines from where they were released after some time, the police officer added.
Shopkeepers downed their shutters in the Naveen Market area of Kanpur city where BJP and VHP activists forcefully tried to close some other shops but were chased away by the police.
Reports of protests were also received from Ghaziabad, Jalaun and Sitapur. About 70 per cent shops remained closed in Sitapur where the protest was led by former BJP Member of Parliament Janardhan Prasad Mishra.
Rajesh Ahuja reports from Chandigarh: The BJP-VHP bandh call evoked a mixed response in Haryana and Chandigarh. There was tension in Sector 22 here when some VHP activists tried to forcibly shut down commercial establishments which were open as usual. The police had to resort to a mild cane charge to disperse the activists who earlier had scuffles with shopkeepers.
Reports from Haryana said educational institutions remained open and rail and road traffic plied as usual. Activists enforced bandh in some parts of Sonepat, Karnal, Rohtak and Ambala. They also burnt an effigy of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Sonepat.
C.K. Chandramohan reports from Dehra Dun: The bandh call evoked a near total response in most urban centres of Uttarakhand on Thursday.
In Dehra Dun, VHP and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party workers marched through the main bazaar and forced closure of a few shops that were open.
The activists stopped trains at Kichcha in Udham Singh Nagar, Roorkee and Hardwar.
Educational institutions and main markets remained closed in all the districts. The response was, however, partial in the interior areas.
No major untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State, officials said.