Violent protests broke out in Jammu as a three-day shutdown called from Friday to press for setting up of AIIMS in the region disrupted normal life and opposition parties took to streets accusing ruling BJP of “betrayal”.
Clashes broke out between activists of BJP and AIIMS Coordination Committee (ACC), which has called for the bandh to press for setting up the premier health institution in Jammu, forcing police to cane charge and use tear gas shells to disperse them.
Rejecting the Centre’s announcement of “AIIMS-like facilities” in the region, activists of ACC took out an anti-government rally in the city demanding a full-fledged AIIMS as has been proposed for Kashmir.
As the slogan-shouting protesters reached Kachi Chawani belt near BJP headquarters, party activists came out and raised counter slogans. The confrontation soon turned violent with the two sides pelting stone.
“There were clashes between BJP activists and protesters at Kachi Chawani area here. The situation has brought under control. There was minor cane charge. No one was injured,” Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Rajiv Pandey said.
“The situation is under control. There have been some rallies. At some places tyres have been burnt by protesters,” he said.
Protesters broke window panes of some vehicles on Akhnoor-Canal road and highway. They blocked the highway at Digiana in the city by burning tyres and squatted on the road for two hours.
Opposition National Conference and Congress staged demonstrations here in support of the demand.
NC workers, led by district president (Jammu Urban) Dharamveer Singh Jamwal, took out a protest rally from Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan, Residency Road.
State Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma led a Congress march in RS Pura border town of Jammu in support of AIIMS demand. Extending its full support to the strike, the party accused the BJP of “trying to sabotage” the people’s struggle for the issue.
“All claims and promises made by BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are proving to be hollow election slogans. BJP has sold out the mandate for the sake of power,” Sharma, who is senior vice president of the state unit, said.
Meanwhile, ACC, an amalgam of over 70 organisations that has been leading an agitation for setting up of AIIMS in Jammu region, said it will continue with the bandh.
“We will continue with the bandh until the central government announces a full-fledged AIIMS institute for Jammu.
“What has been announced by Union Health Minister JP Nadda is a cruel joke with people of Jammu,” ACC Chairman and Jammu Bar Association President Abhinav Sharma told reporters here.
Jammu, the winter capital of the state, observed a complete shutdown with most business establishments, market places and shops remaining closed while public transport was off the roads.
Bandh was also observed in Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Reasi districts in support of the demand for AIIMS in Jammu.
Reports from districts of Rajouri, Poonch, Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda said that partial bandh was observed in these areas.
However, Jammu-Srinagar National highway and Jammu-Pathankote highway remained open for vehicular traffic and no effect of bandh was seen on the highway except brief disruption.
Working in government offices was affected. Attendence in schools and other educational institutes was also hit.
After the band call was given by ACC, Health Minister JP Nadda had yesterdy said that Jammu region will also get AIIMS like facilities in the wake of demands by locals. PTI