Barring Kathua district, adjoining Samba town and Jammu city, the bandh called by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association in Jammu evoked no response elsewhere in the region on Wednesday. The bandh was called to press the demands for deportation of Rohingyas from Jammu, shifting of investigations into the rape and murder of an eight year old Bakarwal girl from state Crime Branch to Central Bureau of Investigations, and withdrawal of the minutes of meeting of the Tribal Affairs Department imposing restrictions on eviction of Gujjars and Bakerwals encroaching upon forest and state land. The Bar president B S Salathia had claimed that the bandh call had the support of civil society involving leaders of various social, religious, trade union and political organisations.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, had opposed the bandh call, with its president Rakesh Gupta saying that it does not hold good when matter pertaining to deportation of Rohingyas is sub judice in Supreme Court and the Union Home Ministry has categorically assured that no new Rohingya will be allowed in Jammu and Kashmir without its prior approval. About restrictions on the eviction of tribals, he said that these were only minutes of a meeting of the Tribal Affairs Department and as such, these hold no constitutional or legal validity.
Describing the rape and murder of the minor Bakarwal girl as “heinous” crime he said that guilty should be awarded “highest punishment ” under the law irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. Moreover, as the crime branch investigations were being monitored by the state high court, it was for the judiciary to see the authenticity of the charge sheet filed by investigating agency before the court, he added.
Meanwhile, the Wednesday bandh in Kathua district remained confined only to towns and villages situated along the national highway, besides adjoining Samba town and Jammu city. Elsewhere Jammu region, all the shops, and other business establishments opened as usual and traffic plied normally during the day. However, in Samba town shops and other business establishments reopened in the afternoon.
Along the national highway passing through Kathua district, protestors holding tri colour blocked the road at different places. While highway was cleared of demonstrators after a while at all the places, it continued till evening at Kootah where women folk from Rasana village have been holding fast for the past few days. A group of people at Hiranagar also tried to sit on dharna along the railway track, but they were dispersed by police after sometime.
In Jammu city too, protestors carrying tri colour took out processions and held demonstrations at different places to press their demands. However, there no untoward incident were reported from any place.
The Bar Association president B S Salathia described the bandh as successful, saying that people have shown that they will not allow Rohingyas to stay in Jammu citing threat to their security. Seeking their immediate deportation, he asked separatist Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to take them to Kashmir if he wanted, but people will not allow them to stay in Jammu.
About CBI enquiry into rape and murder of Bakarwal girl, he said they too wanted the guilty to be hanged. “We are not seeking release of the accused, but did government not order a CBI enquiry into sex scandal in Kashmir”, he asked.