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Jammu still tense, curfew extended
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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July 04, 2008 12:11 IST

The situation in the entire Jammu city and adjoining towns continued to be tense, even as the authorities extended curfew to Kathua district on the Pathankote Jammu national highway following largescale violence in the town.

Contingents of Rapid Action Force were airlifted from outside the state and reached winter capital Jammu on Thursday.

Following largescale violence in Kathua town on Thursday, when mobs torched state government offices and several vehicles of police and government departments, the authorities imposed a round the clock curfew in the town.

Hundreds of Valley-bound trucks carrying supplies had to be halted at Madhavpore in Punjab, bordering the state of Jammu and Kashmir [Images] by the state authorities fearing violence by mobs against them.

Sources in Srinagar [Images] said violent mobs late on Thursday torched the commercial tax department at Lakhanpur, the entry point into the state.

The army staged a flag march in town to defuse tension.

Curfew continued without any relaxation for the third day running in Jammu city, adjoining Samba and in the Bhaderwah town of hilly Doda district.

At some places in Jammu city, mobs defied curfew restrictions and held protests against the cancellation of the land allotment order to Sri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad appealed to people of Jammu, particularly the youth "to maintain peace and help in restoring normalcy in the region which has been vitiated by certain vested interests who want to exploit the situation to garner support in the forthcoming elections."

"I appeal to the common masses who are peace-loving not to get misled by a handful of people who are using religion, caste and regionalism for dividing the people to take political mileage," Azad said.

Azad said that the initial Cabinet decision to divert the forest land to SASB was taken after protracted correspondence for three years between the shrine board and the forest department.

He said that the ownership rights of the land remained with the forest department and it was only diverted to SASB for building temporary shelters.

He clarified that "some mischief mongers tried to project the deal as an attempt to change the demographic profile of the region which is absolutely baseless."

"The second decision of the government was taken after a communication from SASB asking the government if it would undertake the responsibility of making arrangements and providing security and other facilities to the yatris during the entire yatra period and if the government could provide these facilities, then the board need not pursue its request for diversion of the land," he said.

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