Basharat Peer in Jammu
Jammu is observing a complete shutdown on Monday to protest against the ghastly killing of 27 slum dwellers by terrorists on Saturday.
The call for the bandh has been given by a newly formed 'Save Jammu Morcha', a forum consisting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata Party and a little-known Muslim Federation.
The ruling National Conference and the Congress party are the only ones to have not called for a strike.
"We are outraged and shocked by the killings here. So we supported the strike and closed our shops for the day," Sunil Gupta, a grocer, said.
The conduct of business in government offices and banks has been affected due to disruption of the public transport system as result of the strike.
But the locals are hopeful that the situation would not take any communal turn, given that the terrorists behind the Saturday carnage are suspected to be Lashkar-e-Tayiba members.
"We were apprehensive in the beginning. Apparently, it does not look like there would be any flare-ups. The city has remained quite peaceful. But you never know," Fayaz Ahmad, a Kashmiri hotelier, said.
Earlier in the day, some local students organisations took out a motorbike procession shouting slogans against the Farooq Abdullah government, calling for the establishment of a separate Jammu state -- a demand the RSS has been pressing for.
"But it has been peaceful throughout the city. There were no incidents of violence or arson," local police officials said.
However, as a precautionary measure the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force has been deployed in heavy numbers throughout the city.
The police and the army are combing the forests surrounding the site of massacre, but no arrests have been made yet.
Meanwhile, in the Narwal area, near the site of the massacre, panic struck again in the morning as a policeman mistakenly fired some shots in the air.
"We felt that the terrorists had struck again. But it turned out to be a policeman," Bihari Lal, a local shopkeeper, said.
He is visibly pained to see the normalcy of his city being shattered. "We are not used to this. It used to happen somewhere else," he said.
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