Friday, March 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shoot orders in Jammu
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, March 23 — The Army was called out and shoot at-sight orders were issued after demonstrators, protesting against Chatti Singhpura carnage, clashed with the police while trying to storm into the civil secretariat here this afternoon.

The police burst several tear gas shells and resorted to lathi charge to push back the swelling ranks of protesters. The demonstrators carrying rods and lathis, clashed with the police and pelted stones on them. Four constables and 10 protesters were injured.

Demonstrators split into several groups and started stoning government buildings, including the legislators hostel where some panes were smashed. Later another group attacked an old Bus Stand and the police chased them away when they tried to indulge in arson.

One CRPF company opened several shots in the air to push back a group of Muslims who had come out of their houses after rumours reached their area that a group of protesters were planning to attack them. The misunderstanding was removed and additional security forces were deployed in sensitive areas.

As the authorities feared bigger trouble the army was ordered to move in battle dress. The troops carried out a flag march in several localities warning people that anyone defying curfew restrictions or indulging in violence would be shot.

A group of protesters managed to march to Raj Bhavan where they insisted on submitting a memorandum. They were pushed back and chased away from the spot.

The district authorities said that some mischievous elements had sneaked into the ranks of the protesters who had earlier assured them they would march peacefully up to Raj Bhavan as they had done yesterday. But these mischievous elements misguided the demonstrators and egged them on to storm the Civil Secretariat.

More than 20 protesters have been arrested.

In the afternoon a massive group of protesters, including Hindus, defied curfew restrictions and reached on foot, on matadors and trucks from Simbal camp, Satwari and Nanak Nagar areas to reach a gurdwara in the city.

The police had put up a barricade in front of Hotel Asia but as the demonstrators protesting against the carnage in Chatti Singhpura village insisted on marching to Raj Bhavan the barricade was lifted to save the situation from assuming ugly dimensions.

The protesters, shouting anti-Farooq Abdullah slogans and demanding his immediate dismissal, assured the police that they would not indulge in violence.

Protesters announced that hartal and demonstration would not be called off till the Chief Minister resigned.

At the railway station here several thousand passengers found hard to put up with the absence of passenger transport services. Later Mr Tripathi intervened and directed the State Roadways Transport Corporation authorities to press into services their fleet for carrying passengers to their destination.

Shopping centres in the city remained closed and work in Government offices and banks was totally affected as the employees could not reach their offices.

The Jammu Municipality Administrator, Mr K.B. Jandial, today arranged curfew passes for the employees especially for the safai karamcharis who had refused to work for fear of being hauled up for violating curfew restrictions. Mr Jandial had been instrumental in pressing into service several hundred safai karamcharis to clean the streets during the night.

The visitor’s gallery in the state Assembly was empty.

Today was the third consecutive day of curfew restrictions in the winter capital. The police and para-military forces were deployed at focal points to ensure the enforcement of curfew restrictions.

The Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Mr P.K. Tripathi, told TNS that protesters had not defied curfew restrictions yesterday, but had been allowed to march to the Governor’s residence for submitting a memorandum. ‘‘We take decisions on the spot and at times some unconventional ones. Our stand has been appreciated by senior citizens and political leaders,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, a senior Akali leader, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, arrived here today along with an Akali jatha to study the situation. He held a detailed discussion with senior Sikh leaders and later addressed a public meeting.

It was in March 1990, when militancy was at its peak that Mr Mann had visited Srinagar and created an atmosphere for the return of several thousand Sikh families which also had migrated along with Kashmiri Pandits in January 1990.

The district authorities relaxed curfew restrictions for one hour between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in areas north of the Tawi bridge which had been the least affected areas in the city.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr P.K. Tripathi, curfew relaxation was given on the demand of the people and there was no untoward incident in the area.

Srinagar: Shops and business establishments in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley remained closed for the second day today, this time on a call given by the All Party Kashmir Hurriat Conference (APKHC) some other political organisations to “protest” against the killing of 35 Sikhs.


Protesters damage buses
From Our Correspondent

New Delhi, March 23 - The Delhi bandh call given by different Sikh organisations and the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) evoked a mixed response.

Party activists tried to burn two buses and broke window panes of a few others, the police said, adding they resorted to a lathi charge and used tear gas to control the situation.

While the shops were closed and traffic was blocked by party activists in the Sikh-dominated areas, life was completely normal in other parts of the Capital.

The bandh call was given in protest against the killing of 35 Sikhs by militants in Kashmir earlier this week.

A number of Sikh bodies have decided to hold a demonstration in front of Pakistan High Commission tomorrow in protest against its alleged role in abetting and sponsoring militants in Kashmir.

The national general secretary of the SAD, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, claimed that the “bandh was a complete success especially in the Sikh- dominated areas.”

The party’s Delhi unit president, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, demanded the Centre to grant Rs 50 lakh and the Jammu and Kashmir Government to grant Rs 10 lakh to the families of those killed.

He blamed the “security and intelligence failure” which encouraged the militants to carry out their attacks on the Sikhs in the village.

He described the killing as an act of “ethnic cleansing” and worst since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This is the first time that the Sikhs have been targeted by militants in the decade-long strife in Kashmir.

The Sikh Students Federation condemning the incident demanded the resignation of the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani.

Condemning the incident, the All India Sikh Welfare Council said there should be an independent inquiry into the incident and the guilty must be punished. The council demanded the resignation of the state Chief minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah.

The National Akali Dal which held a demonstration in front of Pakistan High Commission urged Islamabad to stop abetting militancy in Kashmir.

The schools, colleges and offices of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) remained closed in response to the bandh call.

The DSGMC would give Rs 51,000 to the families of those killed in the incident and Rs 11,000 to those injured, the acting president of the committee, Mr Baldev Singh, said today.

In a tribute to those dead, an ‘akhand path’ will begin tomorrow at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib here and its ‘bhog’ will take place on Sunday at 10.30 a.m.

In Calcutta, the Sikhs urged the Centre to institute an inquiry by an agency of international repute to probe the massacre. They also called upon their brethren in Kashmir to strengthen themselves with arms and not to migrate from the valley.

In Raipur, members of the community downed the shutters of their business establishments and observed a day-long dharna at the Shastri Chowk. Representatives of different political parties also joined the dharna, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ramesh Bais and Madhya Pradesh Commercial Tax Minister Satyanarayan Sharma met the protestors.

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