PM seeks cooperation to end Amarnath shrine row

August 15th, 2008 - 9:42 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday described the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir as “a cause for concern” and appealed for cooperation from the people and political parties to end the bitter Amarnath shrine land transfer row. Addressing the nation from the Red Fort on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, the prime minister said that divisive politics would lead the country nowhere.

“The recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir are a cause for concern. In this hour of crisis, I appeal to all political parties to keep the long term interests of Jammu and Kashmir in view and come together to find a permanent solution to the problems of the state.”

Manmohan Singh’s comments came amid continuing unrest both in the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region over differences between Muslims and Hindus over the allotment of land - subsequently cancelled - to a board managing the annual pilgrimage to the Hindu Amarnath shrine.

The unprecedented communal divide has led to the deaths of around 40 people, mainly in firing by the police and other security forces.

In his speech, Manmohan Singh sought to emphasise how the pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine of Lord Shiva had brought Hindus and Muslims together for decades.

“The sacred shrine of Shri Amar Nath inspires all Indians to march together. This shrine is a shining example of our secular tradition, where Hindu pilgrims have been looked after for years by their Muslim brothers.

“Issues related to this sacred place, especially the issue of providing the best possible facilities to pilgrims, can only be resolved in an atmosphere of peace and goodwill,” the prime minister said.

He warned: “Dividing people in the name of religion can complicate these issues further which can also pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the country.

“I appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to cooperate with us in establishing peace in the state. It is my conviction that all issues can be resolved only through dialogue and peaceful means,” Manmohan Singh added.

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