The Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHBA), which has been on strike since April 4, today gave a call for general strike in the region on Wednesday demanding deportation of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals from the area.
Other demands of the bar association include handing over of the Kathua rape-and-murder case to CBI and clarity of the state government’s stance on tribal affairs.
“Pursuant to our meeting with civil society and leaders of different political parties on Saturday, we decided to observe a general strike on April 11 in entire Jammu region in support of the demand for eviction of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals,” JHBA president B S Slathia said.
Work in the high court and other courts were hit for the sixth day today due to the lawyers’ strike. The association will continue the strike and will take a decision on future course of action on April 11.
“The Supreme court has asked for maintaining of status quo with regard to Rohingyas. We demand that they be shifted from here to any other part of the country and provided all facilities,” Slathia said.
Claiming mass support to the strike call, he said the bar was forced to agitate on the issues which are communal in nature.
“We are not communal. All people of Jammu region, whether Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians are brothers and the bar will not allow division of communities on communal lines and stand like a strong wall to frustrate designs of communal elements,” he said and asked people to maintain peace and communal harmony during the strike.
He said the people of Jammu have awakened and the government was caught in a “swamp due to its failure to keep its promises made to the public in Srinagar, Jammu and other parts of the state”.
The bar as well as the civil society had rejected the appeal of the BJP to end the strike and said it was ready for negotiation with the government but not any party, he said.
Defending its demand for handing over the Kathua rape-and-murder case of a minor girl to the CBI, Slathia said it only favoured “fair investigation” of the case as the government sidelined the Jammu crime branch and gave responsibility of the investigation to a special team from Kashmir.
“A criminal is a criminal and not linked to any religion. We demand severe punishment to those who have done wrong but we will not hesitate to raise our voice if the investigation is done in a wrong way,” he said, adding the government should have come forward on its own and handed over the case to CBI.
Slathia said the lawyers would visit different markets in the city tomorrow to educate people about the issues and seek their support for the bandh.
Meanwhile, BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta today appealed to the lawyers to not allow their “genuine concern for people of Jammu to be hijacked by the opportunistic Congress party, which has no popular support base and wants to piggy back on them for their survival politics.”
He said since most of the issues highlighted by the advocates are sub-judice, it would be better if the lawyers used their professional skills and prayed judicial remedy rather than dabbling in politics.