Azad announces all-party meet on land row

June 25th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 25 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir govenrment Wednesday decided to convene an all-party meeting soon to work out a consensus on the land allotment to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). “Some people are trying to play negative politics by dividing the masses on religious lines on this issue. My government would not allow this,” Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told a media conference here, breaking his silence after the controversial allotment sparked widespread protests in the state.

“No permanent construction of any sort would be allowed on the land diverted to the SASB,” he said.

Azad said the issue should normally have been sorted out through debate, discussion and seminars but certain vested interests were forcing people to take to the streets.

The chief minister distributed a background note on the allotment of 39.88 hectares of forest land to the SASB by his government March 5, 2008.

“Please read this note carefully. It is not land allotment to the SASB. It is simply diversion of forest land to the board for facilitating the Amarnath Yatra and the diversion is purely temporary,” he said.

The diversion of forest land to the SASB at Baltal in Ganderbal district has generated a controversy here.

The Kashmir Valley has been paralysd as thousands of protesters here have been demanding immediate rescinding of the land allotment to SASB, which manages the Hindu cave shrine of Amarnath. The shrine attracts tens of thousands pilgrims every year.

For the third consecutive day Wednesday violence, demonstrations and road blockades threw life out of gear here in Srinagar and a number of towns.

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