Jammu: Residents of Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera who have been agitating for nearly a month now to press for a district status to the town on Saturday started a march to the winter capital of the state. They are planning to gherao civil secretariat on Monday in support of their demand, district officials said.
However, the district administration on Saturday stopped several thousand marchers including women at Lambari village, around 20 km from the town, and started negotiations with their leaders to seek a peaceful end to their issues, the official said.
On March 9, the state government announced new posts of ADCs to work on rotational basis in Nowshera, Sunderbani Kalakote and Kortranka areas in an attempt to defuse the crisis.
However, the formula was rejected by the residents of the strike-hit areas. They threatened to intensify the agitation to press for the district status or permanent ADC posts.
People in Nowshera, Kalakote and Sunderbani towns are on an indefinite strike since February 16, after the authorities here announced to appoint Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) post only in Kotranka area.
The official said the protesters were initially stopped by police at Nowshera bridge but then allowed to avoid a clash.
They are camping at Lambari and efforts are on to persuade them to return, he said.
Meanwhile, BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said, “There was no justification in appointing an ADC to be seated at Koteranka, which became a Tehsil in 2014 and is a newly created sub-division, neglecting the claim of Nowshera, a Tehsil since 1947, which was promised a district status.” He said there must be certain norms that dictate whether a particular area qualifies for establishing the office of ADC.
“Arbitrary decisions brew resentment and are against the concept of good governance,” he said.
Gupta said the anger of the people of Nowshera was justified because they feel cheated for narrow political gains at their expense.
“While Kotranka was nowhere in contention, it was given preference over Nowshera, which has become the bone of contention and root cause of the agitation. There is no end in sight and a prolonged agitation in the border belt is a big security risk as well,” he said.