Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti to boycott talks with all-party delegation

August 9th, 2008 - 11:31 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shivraj Patil

Jammu, Aug 9 (IANS) The Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti, which has been leading protests against the revocation of land allotment to the Amarnath shrine board, Saturday declared that it will not hold talks with the all-party delegation led by central government’s Home Minister Shivraj Patil since the team consists of people “responsible” for the land row. “We had decided to take part in the all-party meet and place our viewpoint before them, but the very presence of three major Kashmiri leaders - central Water Resources Minister Saif-ud-din Soz, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti - has made us rethink our decision and boycott the meet,” Leela Karan Sharma, chairman of the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (AYSS) told IANS.

“Soz, Mehbooba and Farooq are responsible for the fire in which the state is engulfed. They are the culprits. How can we talk to them?” he added.

The delegation was expected to reach here Saturday to hold talks with the AYSS, a conglomerate of over 30 Hindu groups, spearheading the agitation in Jammu for allocation of 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath temple managing board.

The decision to send a delegation was taken at an all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday. On Sunday, the delegation is scheduled to visit Srinagar, where dozens of protesters, including policemen, were injured Friday when security forces foiled attempts by demonstrators to reach the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOG) office.

Terming the AYSS decision to boycott the talks as “unfortunate”, an official said the programme of the delegation will be rescheduled. They will now meet meet the political parties in Jammu and try to assess the situation.

Stir over a plot of forest land, first transferred to and then reclaimed from the management board of Amarnath cave shrine, has nearly created a communal bridge between the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley and Hindu-majority Jammu region.

While Muslims in the valley were opposed to the land transfer, Hindus have been protesting and demanding the allocation of the land to the temple trust. At least 15 people have been killed during the over five-week-long agitation in both Kashmir as well as Jammu.

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