SASS defers protest plan after meeting with government

February 12th, 2009 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Amarnath ShrineJammu, Feb 12 (IANS) The Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS) Thursday announced that it has deferred plans to hold demonstrations from Feb 13 following assurances by the Jammu and Kashmir government that it will implement all clauses of the agreement that they signed in August last year.
“We had a meeting with government officials this morning. They have assured us that all our demands would be met before Feb 28. Accordingly, we have decided to defer the agitation that was to start from tomorrow,” said Narendra Singh, an SASS spokesperson.

The SASS, a conglomerate of more than 30 groups, had held massive protests for two months last summer for allocation of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) in Kashmir.

The government had first allotted 100 acres of land for building facilities for the pilgrims on May 26, 2008 but cancelled it after a series of massive street protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. This triggered protests in the Hindu majority Jammu region.

The Amarnath land row was suspended after an agreement was reached on Aug 31, 2008 between a government panel and the SASS, giving exclusive rights to the SASB to use the land during the pilgrimage season.

However, the SASS announced Wednesday that it would resume protests from Feb 13 as the government had not lifted the Public Saftey Act imposed on Dinesh Bharti, one of the leaders of last year’s agitation.

This was one of the points of the agreement between the SASS and the government.

“We are surprised as to why the government has not honoured the agreement of lifting PSA from Dinesh Bharti, while it has set free 15 separatists and lifted PSA from them,” said SASS convenor Leela Karan Sharma.

PSA is a legal provision invoked against separatists and rioters under which they can be booked for a period of two years without producing them before a court.

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