The Jammu bandh to protest the Pulwama militant attack turned violent on Friday with unruly elements from two communities coming on the roads against each other, torching vehicles and damaging property worth crores, forcing the administration to call in the Army and impose curfew in Jammu city.
Nearly 40 people were injured and one Narinder Targotra (42) of Muthi died after a heart attack while he was raising slogans.
Nearly 60 vehicles were damaged. Stones were pelted on various buildings, with Gujjar Nagar and Maharaja Hari Singh Park areas being the worst affected by violence.
Jammu District Magistrate Ramesh Kumar imposed curfew under Section 144 of CrPC in areas under the jurisdiction of 10 police stations. The Army was called to conduct a flag march in Gujjar Nagar.
Normal life came to a halt with traffic off the roads and all business establishments across Jammu region shut.
The bandh, called by Jammu Chamber of Commerce, was supported by various political, social, religious and trade organisations. The J&K High Court Bar Association had also given a call to suspend work in courts across Jammu region.
Lawyers took out a procession from the High Court complex, while senior BJP leaders, including state president Ravinder Raina and MP Jugal Kishore, held a dharna blocking the busy Tawi bridge.
People holding the Tricolour came on the roads Friday morning, raising slogans against Pakistan and militants. A group of protesters, who had reached Gujjar Nagar, alleged that stones were thrown at them when they were moving around peacefully in the area. However, local residents accused the protesters of setting on fire nearly half-a-dozen vehicles, parked along the road outside the Jogi Gate cremation ground, without provocation.
As both sides started pelting stones at each other, senior officers with strong contingents of police reached the spot. They resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the groups.
The situation deteriorated as a police constable’s gun suddenly went off and the bullet hit a flag post on a tower at Gujjar Nagar Chowk, with the Tricolour on top falling down. The demonstrators turned violent and moved towards the Maharaja Hari Singh Park where they damaged another half-a-dozen vehicles.