Police resorted to cane-charge and teargas firing to disperse pro-AIIMS protesters at three places amid clashes in Jammu city, where a bandh was observed for second consecutive day today over the demand for establishment of AIIMS in the region.
The district authorities today ordered imposition of restrictions under CrPC section 144 in Jammu district to ensure peace and normalcy even as police arrested eight protesters during the violent protests.
Congress activists took out anti-government rallies and burnt effigies in Jammu city.
AIIMS Coordination Committee activists also took out rallies in several parts of the city in cavalcades of vehicles. As they reached Jewel, Indra Chowk and Kachi Chawani areas, police stopped them from moving towards the BJP headquarters, resulting in clashes.
Police resorted to cane-charge and teargas shelling to disperse the protesting mobs even as some protesters pelted stones.
"Police resorted to cane charge and teargas firing at three places to disperse the protesters. The situation is being brought under control. No one has been injured," SP Jammu Rajiv Pandey told PTI.
However, the protesters disperse and reassemble at other places resulting in cane-charges on them, he said.
"Eight people have been taken into custody," Pandey said.
ACC went ahead with their three-day bandh in Jammu, which started here yesterday, after rejecting the Centre's announcement for "AIIMS-like facilities" in the region.
As the violent protests and rallies spread to various areas of Jammu city, District Magistrate Simrandeep Singh today imposed restrictions on Assembly of four or more people and all kinds of rallies in all the municipal limits of Jammu district under section 144 of CrPC.
"This applies to the municipal limits of Jammu city and peripheral tehsils also. Anyone violating shall be booked by police under section 188 of RPC," the DM said in an order.
Yesterday, ACC activists had clashed with BJP activists amid stone pelting as police resorted to cane charge and tear gas shelling to disperse them at Kachi Chawani area near BJP headquarters here.
Jammu observed a bandh for second consecutive day today over the demand of AIIMS in Jammu. All business establishments, market places and shops remained closed and public transport remained off the roads. Protesters blocked the highway and various roads in the city by burning tyres.
ACC Chairman and Jammu Bar Association President Abhinav Sharma said the fight will continue till their demand for AIIMS in Jammu region is not met.
ACC, an amalgamation of over 70 organisations, has been leading an agitation for setting up of AIIMS in Jammu region.
"Let us all participate in this bandh in way that the eyes and ears of BJP government in the state and the Centre open and they see clearly that the struggle for establishment of AIIMS in Jammu is in fact an issue of basic self-respect of the people of Jammu region which they have never compromised," he said.
Rejecting the clarification given by state Health Minister Lal Singh at a press conference here yesterday, Sharma said, "Nothing less than a full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu is going to satisfy the people."
Led by Congress spokesman Ravinder Sharma, over 200 Congress activists took out a rally from their office and paraded through the city.
Raising anti-government and anti-BJP slogans, they burnt effigies of BJP state and Central governments and demanded immediate announcement of a separate and independent AIIMS for Jammu.
"We strongly condemn the attempt to disrupt the movement of Coordination Committee for AIIMS and the alleged attack on the agitating and peaceful members of Bar and Coordination Committee by some frustrated elements at Kachhi Chowni area outside BJP office and urge people to unitedly strengthen the movement and expose the sabotage by the BJP," Sharma said.
The Congress spokesman accused the BJP of betrayal and deception and said the party was trying to sabotage the movement for AIIMS.
The CPIM today said the government is creating a wedge between the people of Jammu and Kashmir regions in the name of AIIMS. "The AIIMS is necessity for both the regions of the state to provide latest medical facilities to the people of the state", a CPIM spokesman said.
Reports from Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Reasi districts said bandh was observed in these towns while reports from other districts of Rajouri, Poonch, Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda said partial bandh was observed in these areas.
Holding the BJP responsible for the ongoing agitation in Jammu over the setting up of AIIMS, vice president of JKPCC Sham Lal Sharma said the Saffron party has "betrayed" the people of Jammu who gave them a massive mandate to end the discrimination with the region.
"The people of Jammu are fed up with the treacherous attitude of the BJP, which has stabbed them in the back for the sake of power. The lies and the false promises made by the BJP is the sole reason that the people of Jammu are on the streets today", the former minister said.
Sharma said that when the entire country was mourning the demise of the former president A P J Abdul Kalam, the BJP leaders "danced" at the beats of drums and distributed sweets, to celebrate a farce announcement by the union health minister J P Nadda.
"The people of Jammu want a full-fledged AIIMS and not the AIIMS like facility, the BJP leadership must stop hoodwinking the people of Jammu," he said.
Sharma accused the BJP of using force to quell the protest. "The ACC has been holding peaceful protest, but the BJP used police to quell the protest, they resorted to cane charge on the peaceful protesters."
Sharma alleged that BJP workers resorted to stone pelting on the ACC activists in which "several ACC members were also injured."
He said that the state government was adopting double standards as it was doing nothing against those who protest with Pakistan and ISIS flags, but resort to cane charging on the people who carry the tricolour.
He claimed that chairman of the ACC Abhinav Sharma was also injured in the cane charge besides several other members.
"We will not give up this agitation until and unless the rights of the people of Jammu are not restored. We won't settle for anything less than a full-fledged AIIMS for Jammu", former Congress minister Raman Bhalla said.
He said that the citizens have every right to hold protests in favour of their demands, but the action of police and the civil administrator was uncalled for.