Jammu-Srinagar highway shut to prevent BJP march

Monday, January 24, 2011

SRINAGAR - The strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway was Tuesday shut to traffic to scuttle attempts by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists to sneak into the Kashmir Valley to go ahead with their planned Republic Day-flag hoisting in the summer capital.

Prohibitory orders were also issued in Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda districts to prevent BJP activists from these adjacent districts to enter the valley.

“The highway shall remain closed today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday),” a state traffic department official said, refusing to elaborate further on the decision to close the highway.

Authorities have decided to impose curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar to scuttle both the BJP and the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) marches in city centre Lal Chowk on Republic Day Wednesday, official sources here said.

“Profiling of passengers arriving here by air has also been started,” a source told IANS.

Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj told reporters in Madhopur in Punjab that her party would go ahead with the Tiranga Yatra.

She said she would enter the state with her party colleagues and “thousands of BJP activists today (Tuesday) despite the official high-handedness”.

The stand-off between the Jammu and Kashmir government and the BJP is headed straight for a showdown.

Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were taken into custody at the Jammu airport Monday and moved out of the state in a police convoy that escorted them up to Madhopur.

Persuasion by the state chief secretary and director general of police had failed to find reason with the senior BJP leaders who staged a sit-in protest at the tarmac and later in the terminal building of Jammu airport before the police moved them out Monday.

Tensions are rising in winter capital Jammu with BJP activists camping at some community halls - waiting to start the march.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already taken union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on board to deal with the law and order situation.

“No question (that) anyone would be allowed to disturb the peace here,” a senior police officer said.

A senior minister in the Omar Abdullah-led Congress-National Conference coalition government said: “The BJP is playing cheap politics by trying to exploit the sentiments of the common man in the country.”

“Security forces are already over-stretched maintaining law and order in the state and today these are being challenged by the activists of a national political party. Sad and regrettable,” he added.

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