Several protests, including one by National Panthers Party against reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, marked the opening day of various government offices here on Monday after biannual 'darbar' move to the winter capital Jammu of the new Union Territory.
The spate of protests erupted even as judicial works in the J&K High court and various lower courts remained affected for the fourth day on Monday amid the ongoing indefinite strike by lawyers.
The lawyers are on a war path against a recent decision by J&K administration to create a new department for registration of sale deeds and other documents pertaining to immovable property, divesting courts of their power to register them.
Shortly after the Civil Secretariat and other offices reopened here after functioning for six months in Srinagar as part of the darbar move, a group of NPP activists led by party chairman and former state minister Harsh Dev Singh assembled at the Exhibition Ground here and held a demonstration.
"We do not want a Union Territory and Lieutenant Governor... It is a crude joke with the people of Jammu and Kashmir," Singh told reporters as agitated protesters shouted slogans for the restoration Jammu and Kashmir's statehood.
Questioning the decision of the BJP-led Central Government, he said it has happened for the first time in the history of the country that a state has been downgraded to the status of Union Territory.
"Who is happy with this demotion?" the NPP leader asked and accused the BJP government of acting in a dictatorial manner and against the norms of democracy.
He said the NPP will continue its protest against the bifurcation of the state into two union territories and "will take the fight to Delhi by organizing protests outside Parliament as the Union Territory status is not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir".
"The NPP wants restoration of the statehood with a chance given to people to choose their representatives through free and fair elections to have a popular government," Singh said.
Earlier, police foiled separate attempts by retired employees of the State Road Transport Corporation and several youths of Reasi and Udhampur districts to march to the Civil Secretariat in support of their demands.
While SRTC's retired employees were demanding their pending dues including the sixth pay commission arrears, the youths, led by former NPP legislator Balwant Singh Mankotia, were agitating over the delay in release of the list of successful candidates in an interview held over a decade ago for some fourth class posts, said officials.
Following the strike by lawyers, work in all courts, including tribunals and revenue courts, remained affected for the fourth day on Monday.
The Jammu chapter of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association went on an indefinite strike on Friday against the government's decision and proposed shifting of the high court from its present location at Janipur to the outskirts of the city.
On October 23, the State Administrative Council headed by the then Governor Satya Pal Malik accorded sanction to the creation of a new department, which will function under the overall administrative control of the Revenue Department, to provide "hassle free and speedy service" to the citizens for registration of documents pertaining to immovable property like sale, gift, mortgage, lease and bequest.
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