The lull that had descended in Jammu after a 10-day-long spell of shutdowns and curfews was broken on July 23 with violent protests after Kuldeep Kumar Dogra allegedly committed suicide to protest the government's?inaction? on the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board land row at the place of chain hunger strike.
The chain hunger strike organised by Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) against revocation of forest land transferred to the Amarnath Shrine Board. He made an emotional speech and recited a poem to the gathering, saying the revocation of the land transfer order to the shrine board had driven him to desperation. He said he was ?sacrificing his life for the cause?, and fainted soon after finishing it, an eyewitness said.
Dogra, 35 who had allegedly consumed poison before making the speech, fell unconscious. He was taken to a hospital where the doctors declared him dead. According to the suicide note found in Dogra'spocket, he was upset about Omar Abdullah'sremarks in Parliament on July 22 that Kashmiris would die but never give up their forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.
Soon after the news of suicide spread, hundreds of people took to street to protest against the Government. Samiti unanimously decided to call for Jammu bandh on July 24 and extended it upto July 27 in protest against the death of a youth who committed suicide by consuming poisonous substance.
Undeterred by the curfew and agitated over the government'salleged failure to restore land to the shrine board, people in several parts of this winter capital city and its suburbs held protest demonstrations and blocked the Jammu-Pathankote and Jammu-Srinagar national highways in protest against Omar Abdullah'sremarks in Parliament.
The protesters were raising slogans against Governor N.N. Vohra and National Conference president Omar Abdullah, whose effigies were burnt at various places.
The situation became tense early on July 24 when at 2.30 am some cops both men and women led by Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Bakshi Nagar, Mohan Lal Kaith descended on the hunger strike venue Parade Ground where Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti had kept the body of Kuldeep Kumar Dogra. The cops allegedly lifted the body from the venue on the pretext shifting it to the native town of the deceased and put it in a police vehicle.
The Samiti leaders and the family members of the victim including his wife who were present on the spot resisted the police move to shift the body. This led to scuffle between the police and those present on the spot. The cops, family members alleged, used force on those present there. They resorted to cane charge, dragged the family members, relatives and Samiti leaders into the police buses after bifurcating men and women. The bus carrying the men was shifted to unknown destination while the vehicles carrying the body and the women including the wife of the deceased were driven to the cremation ground at Bishnah where some cops had already made arrangements for cremation of the deceased.
The cops allegedly laid the body on an already prepared pyre at around 3.30 am and despite resistance of the female family members, the cops consigned the pyre to flames.
Shilpi, wife of the deceased Kuldeep Kumar Dogra alleged police put the body on the pyre despite my repeated resistance and tried to set it on fire by throwing kerosene oil and liquor?, she alleged, regretting that even the lady police Inspector didn'tallow her to even see the face of her husband last time. ?We requested the police not to cremate the body in the predawn hours but the cops did not accept our request. They snubbed all the women present at the cremation site and hurriedly consigned the body to flames?, she maintained. Shilpi, displaying the marks of torture, threatened that she too would end her life at Parade Ground if action was not taken against police officers and cops responsible for giving inhuman treatment to her husband'sbody and family members on July 23, night.
The priest of the nearby Ram Bagh Temple where a religious function (Jagrata) was going on observed some people cremating a body at the cremation ground, he raised hue and cry and also made announcement from the temple loudspeaker. The youth who were present in the religious function rushed to the cremation ground while the other villagers who woke up after the announcements followed them. Seeing the people rushing towards the cremation ground, the cops fled from the spot. The villagers extinguished the fire of pyre immediately using water and brought out the body, they said. The body suffered burns at toes and some part of the face by the time it was brought out. Some of the villagers chased the cops while others set ablaze the police vehicle in which the body was shifted to Bishnah near the cremation ground.
Irked over the police action, the people caught hold of four cops when they took refuge in a house near the cremation ground. The cops were subjected to severe thrashing by the mob. The mob tore off their uniforms, removed their caps and canes and set these ablaze.
The body was shifted by the people to Mahajan Sabha Bishnah. Hundreds of locals gathered at Mahajan Sabha. Some of them moved towards the Police Station Bishnah and started pelting stones on the cops. The handful of cops, who were present there, hid themselves inside the Police Station to save their lives. However, the additional troops were rushed to the spot from District Police Lines (DPL) Jammu and Kathua.
The cops took positions at various places in the town and the protestors clashed with them. The ding dong battle between police and the protestors continued at various places within the town till 1 pm. The protestors set ablaze tyres in the middle of the road and also raised several road blockades.
The situation remained tense in the town till the cremation took place in the afternoon at 1.30 pm. The army also staged flag march in the town at noon.
Thousands of people from all walks of life including several politicians attended the cremation.
Dogra'sdeath re-ignited protests in Jammu. His cremation fuelled the agitation in Jammu division, defying the curfew restrictions the protests broke at several places when the news of the whisking away of the body spread like wild fire. The protestors burnt tyres and effigies of National Conference president Omar Abdullah.
There was virtually no locality in the city where the people joined by women and children didn'ttake to streets shouting slogans against Governor N.N. Vohra, National Conference president Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. Protesters burnt tyres to block road and torched effigies of Vohra, Abdullah and Mufti raising slogans like ?Bum Bum Bhole? and ?Kuldeep Dogra Amar Rahe?. The people were demanding stern action against police officials responsible for desecrating the body of Dogra.
Jammu has been reeling under a spell of shutdowns and curfews since July 1 when the government cancelled its May 26 order of allocating nearly 40 hectares of forest land to the SASB.
The shrine board manages the annual Himalayan pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir, at an altitude of 3,888 metres, dedicated to lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity.
The government was forced to cancel the order following massive protests in the Kashmir Valley, which were triggered by fear and widespread perception that the land would be used for settling non-locals to change the Muslim-majority character of the Valley. The government'sreversal of the decision helped the Valley protests die down but Jammu erupted