The Governor NH Vohra administration thwarted Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS) to hold a public function to pay homage to the martyrs of the Jammu Agitation on August 20. The police opened fire, burst several teargas shells and resorted to brute lathicharge on a peaceful gathering of SAYSS outside Abhinav Theatre where the function was to be organised to present relief cheques worth Rs four lakh each to the families of 12 people killed and rendered blind during 62-day long agitation, spearheaded by the Samiti seeking restoration of 800 kanals land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).
Ironically, after permitting the booking of the venue, the management of the Abhinav Theatre cancelled the booking of the Sangharsh Samiti at the eleventh hour without prior notice under pressure from Governor'sAdministration. The Samiti leaders rubbished Abhinav Theatre management for cancelling the booking at the eleventh hour under the ?pressure of administration to sabotage the function to honour families of martyrs?. As the Samiti leaders wanted to enter inside the Theatre, a strong posse of police personnel deployed inside straightway started firing in air and burst several tearsmoke shells to disperse aged Samiti leaders. A number of them were hit by lathis by the cops causing them injuries.
In the meantime, when Mahant Rameshwar Dass tried to forcibly enter Abhinav Theatre in his Scorpio he was fired upon by the cops. A bullet pierced through his vehicle but the widely revered Mahant had a narrow escape. However, the Mahant and a number of young activists of Samiti broke open the locked gate of Abhinav Theatre and entered inside. They were pushed back by the cops by resorting to firing, teargasing and lathicharge but not before half an hour long clash in which the youths raised slogans inside the theatre complex despite being hit by lathis and rifle butts. Scorpio car of the Mahant was ransacked by the cops. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Dr Rama Kant Dubey, Samiti leaders Sneh Bali, Swami Dayanand and Shri Hari and Janata Party president Som Nath Dabgotra were hit by lathis of police and were injured. Even the relatives of the martyrs, who had come to receive the cheques, were also not spared by the police. They too were forced to flee from outside the Abhinav Theatre. Some of them fell down and were injured.
?It was a dishonour to the family members of martyrs and we condemn it,? said Lila Karan Sharma Convener SAYSS while talking to reporters. Angry over the unfortunate incident Convener SAYSS said that Samiti will not allow any function in Abhinav Theatre till persons responsible for the mess apologise. He also demanded an enquiry into the matter as to why first the venue was booked but later in mid-night hours it was cancelled. He added that Samiti members were holding a peaceful protest near gate of Abhinav Theatre but the police resorted to heavy baton charge and tear gas lobbing on peaceful protesters. He alleged that there are some elements in the government who do not want to restore normalcy in the state. Sharma said that government is backtracking from their words and maintained though Samiti assured full cooperation after Memorandum of Understanding signed between the government and the Samiti on August 31 but some major demands still are lying unresolved viz quashing of Public Safety Act (PSA) on Saint Dinesh Bharti.
When the media persons phoned the administrators most of them did not pick up the phone while some had switched off their mobile phones, however during late night press release issued by Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art,Culture and Languages stated that there was some fault in the electric system which causing cancellation of bookings.
An official handout issued by Information Department in the late hour, said that DC and SSP Jammu had rushed to Abhinav Theatre and requested organisers to shift the function to any other venue like Ravi Dass Hall or Geeta Bhawan.
According to the reliable sources, some top brass of the government had directed the administration not to allow the function on the ground that it will not only glorify the agitationists but also give a message that Abhinav Theatre has been allowed to be used for a ?political gathering?. However, the Samiti had on numerous occasions made it amply clear that they had no political affiliation and will not support any party in the coming Assembly elections.
Strong resentment prevailed among the Jammu people over the shabby treatment meted out to aged leadership of Samiti and cancellation of function to honour families of martyrs. ?When several politicians and separatists openly visit the houses of dreaded slain militants in Kashmir, most of whom are involved in several innocent killings, and pay relief to their families, they are not stopped. Why it is that the Government was bent upon to thwart the Samiti function. This clearly reflected the anti-Jammu postures of the government and the administration which was still unable to digest the victory of the people of Jammu achieved through a hard fought 62-day long agitation, backed by almost entire country?, a number of local people who are supporting the Samiti, asked these questions.