Normal life across Jammu region was disrupted as people, as a mark of their first major unrest against BJP, on Friday observed bandh in protest over “arbitrary shifting’’ of AIIMS to Valley.
While it was complete bandh in Jammu district, with all business establishments and educational institutions closed, the commuter services were off the road at other places like Udhampur, Samba and Kathua districts.
Significantly, all these places had during the 2014 assembly polls voted for BJP to enable it to have its biggest ever tally of 25 MLAs in the State Legislative Assembly.
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The call for bandh was given by Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and it also had the support of Jammu Bar Association, transporters, social and political organizations including Congress and the National Conference. In a major embarrassment to BJP, even Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal had also supported the bandh.
“You give four AIIMS to Valley, we do not have objection. But Jammu shall not be deprived of the one announced for it by the Central government in its union budget,’’ said Rakesh Gupta, president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The BJP shall have to honour its commitments to issues on which it has come to power in Jammu Kashmir, otherwise we (people of Jammu) know how to make governments fall,’’ Gupta said.
While Bajrang Dal workers took out a procession in Jammu city, Congress and National Conference workers held demonstrations at various places and burnt the effigies of the BJP-PDP coalition government. State Congress vice president and former health minister Sham Lal Sharma slammed BJP silence over the “shifting of AIIMS announced for Jammu to the Valley’’.
Describing it a “sell out’’ by BJP so as to stay in power in coalition with PDP, Sharma said that they have no objection to Valley and Ladakh also getting an AIIMS each, but Jammu shall not be deprived of the one specifically announced for it by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech in Parliament.
The state government in March 15 state governor’s address to a joint sitting of both the houses of state legislature talked of establishing AIIMS in Valley even when it got a letter from Union Health Minister J P Nadda asking for identification of land for it on April 1. The letter was received by Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, he pointed out.
The AIIMS controversy, which has the potential of dividing people on regional lines, has already divided BJP in the state with its many senior leaders discreetly supporting the bandh call. “Just for the sake of power, I cannot betray people of Jammu,’’ said a senior BJP leader who wished not to be named.