Nowshera bandh enters 33rd day, people block Poonch highway

Nowshera people blocking Jammu-Poonch highway on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Bhat
Nowshera people blocking Jammu-Poonch highway on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Bhat

Gopal Sharma
RAJOURI, Mar 20: Hundreds of people from Nowshera and its adjoining villages today staged dharna on the Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch highway for more than seven hours while bandh in Nowshera and Kalakote towns continued in support of their demand of district and post of Additional Deputy Commissioner.
Indefinite bandh in the township of Nowshera continued on 33rd consecutive day today while JAC members at Kalakote started chain hunger strike in support of their demand.
The Joint Action Committee members at Nowshera including Beopar Mandal, Bar Association, Sanatan Dharam Sabha led by Subhash Kapoor ( president Beopar Mandal), Ravikant vice president and Jagdish Sawhney, president Snatan Dharam Sabha and members from many other organizations of the area took out strong protest rally in the town.
Click here to watch video
Students of Govt Degree College, two Higher Secondary Schools including girls and women activists also joined the protest rally and then they moved towards the Main Chowk at Highway near Tain bridge. They were shouting slogans in support of their demand. Several members addressed gathering.
The agitating people sat on dharna on the road and stalled movement of traffic at around 11 am. The vehicular movement came to grinding halt on the busy highway. Even the movement of Army convoy was stopped. The people burnt tyres and raised loud slogans against Chief Minister, BJP Ministers, Ch Zulfkar Ali, Abdul Ghani Kohli, local legislators and DC Rajouri.
They alleged that they have been befooled by the Government and the District Administration. They expedited the momentum of agitation after they came to know that no decision has been taken about the fate of Nowshera and Kalakote in today’s Cabinet meeting which was over at around 1.50 pm.
The JAC Nowshera had given ultimatum to the Government up to 4 pm on Monday as they had suspended their Jammu ‘Chalo programme on the assurance of Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Shahid Iqbal on Saturday. Thousands of people had returned from Lamberi after covering 20 km distance on foot.
The Government had sought time up to Monday afternoon. But there was no Govt order even on Monday. The DC then gave indication that announcement in this regard is likely in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and the JAC members were convinced to wait for the outcome of the Cabinet meeting. Even today, there was no announcement or decision taken in the Cabinet meeting.
A senior BJP Minister when contacted said that the matter was not taken up in the Cabinet today with regard to Nowshera. He said no consensus has been reached so far on the issue.
Deputy Commissioner Rajouri, Shahid Iqbal and SSP Rajouri Yougal Manhas were camping at Dak Bangalow Nowshera after visiting Kalakote.
The DC offered juice to the people sitting on hunger strike but people did not agree to suspend or call off agitation. Another group of JAC members went on chain hunger strike. MLC Surinder Choudhary , said that no announcement regarding Nowshera could take place in the Cabinet meeting this afternoon. He hoped that something positive would come out shortly. Choudhary said he was in Civil Secretariat Jammu and trying to meet CM, Chief Secretary and other top leaders.
Kalakote town also continued indefinite bandh on 18th day today, seeking separate ADC’s posting there. Entire market remained closed in the town and the vehicles also remained off the road. The Kalakote JAC led by Rashpal Singh (Ex-MLA), Randhir Singh and others took out strong protest march in the town and then moved towards the main dharna site. They rejected the Government formula of rotational ADCs for Kotranka and Kalakote.
Meanwhile, Kalakote JAC members have refused to go with Kotranka but preferred to go with Nowshera if the district status is accorded there. They said Kalakote is the largest Sub Division with more than 70 Panchayats while Nowshera had 36 and Sunderbani just 28. Keeping in view this all, a fair decision should be taken by the Administration.