Some incidents of stone-pelting were reported today as Jammu city witnessed a near total bandh in protest against alleged desecration of a temple here last night, an issue which resonated in the state Assembly as well.
Fearing a flare-up, the government suspended mobile Internet services and deployed police in strength to maintain law and order.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for calm, saying, "Jammu and Kashmir is the most secular place" and it should not be "hijacked extremist forces".
She said some elements were "hell-bent" on creating communal tension in the region but the people of Jammu, irrespective of their religion, must unite and fight the nefarious designs of such forces.
She warned that communal politics in Jammu region could have a disastrous effect as the state was already facing separatism in the Kashmir valley.
"Separatism and communalism are the two faces of a same coin and they ultimately divide the society and the country," she said while addressing a function at Jammu University.
The city last night saw protesters setting on fire three vehicles and resorting to stone pelting on police after the alleged desecration of an ancient temple situated in Roop Nagar area apparently by a "mentally disturbed" person.
Today, a few incidents of stone pelting were reported, barring which the situation across Jammu region remained by and large normal.
Even though no political or social organisation had called for bandh, the businessmen and transporters decided to observe a shutdown in protest against the "desecration" of the temple.
Most of the shops and business establishments remained closed whereas traffic remained off the road.
"The situation right now is normal barring a few incidents of protests by local residents. We have deployed adequate number of police personnel," Jammu Deputy Commissioner Simrandeep Singh told PTI.
He said that even as the mobile Internet services have been snapped, no curfew or Section 144 is in force in any part of the city.
Police said the person accused of desecrating the temple was "mentally unstable" and that he had been arrested.
The issue also resonated in the state Assembly where BJP members created ruckus as soon as the House assembled. "It is matter of serious concern…Some anti-social elements have carried out an anti-social act. The situation in Jammu is bad. The government should make a statement," BJP MLA Ravinder Raina said.
National Conference's Altaf Ahmad Kaloo and Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed also joined in, demanding that the government should ensure safety of Kashmiris in Jammu region.
"Four boys from Pahalgam area have been arrested in Jammu. What is their fault?" Kaloo asked.
The BJP members took offence to intervention from Rasheed and Kaloo and exchanged heated words.
CPI(M) MLA M Y Tarigami intervened, saying the entire House should condemn the incident and appeal for maintaining calm and brotherhood. "Let us not divide this state along communal lines," he said.
Leader of Opposition Omar Abdullah supported Tarigami, saying, "It would have been better if the suggestion had come from the Treasury Benches."
"Usually, the Chief Minister comes here (assembly) and intervenes but today neither she nor the Deputy Chief Minister is here when the situation in Jammu is on the brink," he said.
Omar said that instead of fighting over the issue, the legislators "should set an example for the people to follow on ground. What we do here will be cue for the people in Jammu".
Earlier, Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan made a statement on the issue, saying "As per information received by Roopnagar police station, one mentally disturbed person, identified as Yasir of Doda, tried damaging and defiling a temple in Janipur area."
The accused was arrested by police but while he was being taken away, "the temple priest and some local residents tried preventing police from discharging their duties," he said.
"The residents held protests outside the police station and resorted to violence, setting several vehicles, including two police buses, on fire," Khan said, adding three policemen including the SHO were injured in the incident.
Khan said police resorted to use of "mild lathicharge" and fired teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
He told the House that the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh could not be present in the Assembly as they were in Jammu to personally monitor the situation.
A similar statement was made in the Legislative Council by Education Minister Naeem Akhtar after members of BJP, NC and Congress demanded answers from the government.
Akhtar said two cases have been registered at police station Janipur and investigation into the incident has been initiated. Some accused persons have been arrested so far.
"The preliminary investigations suggest that the accused person who entered the temple is a lunatic patient," he said.
RUCKUS IN LC
Meanwhile, the Upper house witnessed ruckus over the sacrilegious act in Jammu temple, with legislators of BharatiyaJanata Party and Congress demanding action against the police personnel for beating people and damaging property after the incident.
Condemning the Act, the BJP legislators stood up from their seats in protest and created ruckus in the Legislative Council against the incident. They were demanding action against the accused persons and police for failing to tackle the situation which lead to wide spread protests.
"We condemn this sacrilegious act, but unfortunate part is that a boy who had gone to report to police station was beaten by ASI which triggered protests," said BJP Legislator Ramesh Arora.
He said that FIR has been lodged against the accused person but what about the police official who thrashed the boy.
Arora said that the government is stating the accused is mentally ill. "But why does not the government constitute a team of doctors and examine such persons who go astray and harm harmony."
Supporting the BJP legislators, Congress Legislator, Naresh Gupta while condemning the incident said: "There are some elements who are hell bent to repeat 2008 like situation in Jammu," he said adding that Police committed atrocities on people following the incident.
Replying on behalf of the government, Minister of Education, Naeem Akhtar said the situation is under control in Jammu as both CM and Deputy CM are monitoring the situation there.