Protests continue over land allotment to Amarnath Shrine Board

June 29th, 2008 - 10:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Srinagar , June 29 (ANI): People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday questioned Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision of transferring the forestland to Amarnath Shrine Board after it withdrew support to the Congress-led coalition in the state.

On Saturday, PDP, a partner of the Congress party-led coalition, pulled out its support from the ruling coalition over the issue.

The government’s decision of transferring 40 acres of forestland to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has triggered large-scale protests and violence in the state.

PDP demanded from the government not to take this responsibility in their hands. But if government had decided to take up this responsibility, then they should have simultaneously revoked their decision of transferring the land to the shrine board. So I feel that this transfer of land was not required as the state government had earlier stated that it would facilitate all necessary arrangements for the pilgrims, said Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, president, People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

However, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said while addressing a news conference about the letter which he had received from the Governor N.N. Vohra, wherein Vohra as chairman of Shrine board has declared that their demand for land transfer would not be pursued any further considering the firm commitment of the state government of providing all necessary facilities to the pilgrims.

Governor as the chairman of Shrine Board wrote a letter to me, which read that considering firm commitment of the ruling government to provide facilities to the pilgrims during Amarnath pilgrimage, it will not pursue its demand for land allotment from forest department any further, said Azad.

When asked about, the status of the coalition government, he added that the governor has accepted the resignations of all the nine PDP MLAs and his government will complete its tenure.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to intensify its protests in case the decision regarding land allotment to shrine board was repealed.

In any case, the land allotment to Amarnath Shrine board should not be cancelled. The pilgrims should be taken care of. And if the land is taken back anyhow, BJP will not limit the protest to the boundaries of state. We will spread it across the nation, said Rajnath Singh, BJP president.

Meanwhile, Kashmiri Pandits, who left their ancestral homes in droves 19 years ago during a bloody rebellion against New Delhi ’s rule in Kashmir, took to streets of New Delhi , on Sunday in support of land transfer to the shrine board.

The protestors, who rose anti government slogans and burnt the effigy of Mehbooba Mufti, for withdrawing support to the ruling coalition in the state, also termed the entire matter as well-crafted exercise by the separatists groups.

Amarnath Yatra is being carried out for so many years. The government allots 75 crores of subsidies for Haj every year and so if few acres of land is being given to Shrine Board, why is it being made such a big issue that all Muslims have come out on streets to cause violence, said MK Kaw, President, All India Kashmiri Samaj.

The PDP’s withdrawal from the ruling coalition follows intense protests in different parts of the state for about a week, demanding revocation of a government order transferring 39.88 hectares of forestland to the Amarnath Shrine Board.

PDP has 18 MLAs in the 87-member State Assembly while Congress has 21 members. The ruling coalition has the support of eight independent members and two Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MLAs. (ANI)

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