Markets were deserted, schools closed while fewer vehicles moved on roads as a 'bandh' called by the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) demanding a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case disrupted normal life across the region on Wednesday.
The region has been tense since the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic Muslim Bakerwal community. The police has arrested eight persons in the case but the Bar Association has opposed the action alleging "targeting of minority Dogras".
Some lawyers allegedly tried to prevent a police team from filing a charge sheet in the case following which another case was registered on Tuesday. The case has even divided the state's polity, with at least two BJP ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti government questioning the role of the police.
Markets as well as shops and schools in Jammu remained closed on Wednesday following the 'bandh' call while fewer vehicles were seen on the roads. Majority of private educational institutions also remained closed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident, officials said.
The strike, which was supported by several political and civil society groups, was peaceful though rallies and protests were staged by lawyers and their supporters at various places, they added.
So far there is no report of any untoward bandh-related incident from anywhere, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Vivek Gupta said.
He said police had made necessary arrangements to ensure that the day passes off peacefully.
The strike also had its effect in Kathua, Samba and Udhampur districts of the Jammu province, officials said.
Carrying a tricolour and chanting slogans in support of their demands, JHCBA members led by their president B S Slathia staged a rally near the High Court complex and visited various markets in the old city seeking public support.
A group of lawyers also blocked the court road near Janipur in the city while shouting go back, go back, Rohingyas go back.
Opposition Congress and Panthers party along with several civil society groups have extended support to the strike call.
National Panthers Party activists also staged a separate protest in the city in support of the bandh.
Reports reaching here from Samba said, bandh supporters blocked the Jammu-Kathua highway near Jatwal. However, the protesters later dispersed and the traffic on the highway was restored, the officials said.