Jammu, 31 Jul (PTI): Amid massive protests and blockade of Jammu-Poonch highway, bandh was today observed in several towns of Rajouri and Poonch against death of Amarnath pilgrim, who sustained fatal injuries in stone-pelting in Ramban district.
Agitating protesters blocked Jammu-Poonch highway and several towns of Sunderbani, Noushera, Kalakote, Rajouri and Poonch observed bandh on call given by Bajrang Dal, VHP and Shiv Sena, official sources said.
Ravi Kant Sharma (38), a resident of Rajouri district of Jammu region, was injured at Awantipora, 32 kms from here, on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on July 19.
Sharma was hit by a stone on the head during protests against the killing of four persons allegedly by security forces in Ramban district the day before. He was admitted to SKIMS hospital where he breathed his last yesterday.
Expressing sorrow over his death, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had yesterday announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs two lakh to his family.
Over 1,500 protesters, raising anti-government slogans assembled in Sunderbani belt– native place of the deceased, and blocked the highway, which left more than 300 vehicles stranded on the route.
They demanded arrest of those involved in the incident and ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh and government job for the Sharma’s kin.
Four persons were arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in the stone-pelting incident which left Sharma critically injured.
The protests began last evening when news of Sharma’s death spread in the Sunderbani town and continued till late night, when the protestors marched to SDM office and burnt effigies of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Senior officials including Deputy Commissioner and SP rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the mob. The deceased’s body was sent to his home town today where the agitating mob kept it on the road and held protests.
Up on intervention of the district administration they agreed to lift the blockade on the highway and cremate the body late in the afternoon after some of their demands were conceded to, officials said.
Ravi was a rehri vendor and used to live along his wife and three children in a one room mud house.
“The stone-pelters of Kashmir valley have snatched the loner bread owner of the family–They should be arrested forthwith,” VHP State Chief Dr Rama Kant dubey said.