February 23, 2016 7:55:08 pm
Vehicular traffic along the Jammu-Kathua National Highway remained disrupted for over two hours as Gujjars, a day after attacking a police party and snatching weapons from the cops during resistance to their anti-encroachment drive, held a sit-in on the road at Vijaypur on Tuesday.
The protesters, who had kept the body of a member of their community who was killed during a scuffle with the police, were later joined by two former ministers of the opposition National Conference, Mian Altaf and Surjit Singh Slathia. Earlier, two former PDP ministers, Naeem Akhar and Choudhary Zulfikar, had expressed concern over the police action against Gujjars, saying that anti-encroachment drives should not be on a selective basis. They had demanded a judicial enquiry into the entire incident which led to the death of a civilian and injuries to ten others, besides the burning of their kullas (thatched huts).
Independent MLA Engineer Rashid, too, held a sit-in along with nearly a dozen supporters outside civil secretariat in Jammu in support of the Gujjars, accusing the administration of functioning at the diktats of RSS. He also visited the injured admitted to Government Medical College Hospital, but when he later tried to proceed to Bari Brahmana, police stopped him.
Under pressure from two major mainstream political parties, police immediately formed a special investigation team led by Additional SP Samba, Faisal Qureshi, and attached SHO Bari Brahmana Bharat Bhushan Sharma to the District Police Lines at Jammu. Senior police officials, who negotiated with the protesters to persuade them to lift blockade from the national highway, also assured them to release all those arrested by police in connection with the snatching of a carbine and an SLR from the cops.
Mian Altaf, when contacted, said that they defused the situation which otherwise would have become more volatile in view of the public anger over the killing of an innocent youth. “We only demanded that action should be taken against the policeman who shot dead Mohammad Yaqoob,’’ he added.
A civilian was killed and ten others including policemen injured as Gujjars resisted the attempt by the administration to evict from state land encroached upon by them along Sarore nullah ahead of the industrial town of Bari Brahmana in Samba district on the Jammu-Pathankote national highway on Monday.
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