Normalcy returns to Kashmir valley as protests end

July 2nd, 2008 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Srinagar, July 2 (IANS) Schools, shops and offices in the Kashmir valley reopened Wednesday as normalcy returned after nine days of violence over allotment of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Official said Amarnath pilgrims covered the 84 km distance between the base camp of the cave shrine to Srinagar safely.

Educational institutions, markets, government offices, banks and business establishments in the valley were working as usual.

However, long queues of vehicles were seen outside petrol stations in Srinagar. Owners said they had exhausted their stocks.

“I waited from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. to get petrol,” said 28-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad.

The Jammu-Srinagar highway, through which all supplies are brought into the valley, continued to be blockaded by protesters demanding allotment of land to the SASB for the second day Wednesday.

Fuel tanker owners also went on strike to support the protests against revocation of land allotment to the shrine board.

The state government Tuesday cancelled its allotment of 40 hectares of forestland to the SASB, which organises an annual pilgrimage to the high altitude Amarnath shrine in Kahsmir dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The decision - taken by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad after a three-hour meeting with cabinet colleagues - quietened the violent protests against the allotment in Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. Five people were killed during the protests last week, allegedly shot by police.

But the revocation of the allotment order led to protests by Hindu groups in Jammu.

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