VHP calls nationwide shutdown over Amarnath land issue

July 1st, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) The radical Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has called for a countrywide shutdown on Thursday to protest the Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to revoke the land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). “We will not stop until the Amarnath land is given back to the shrine board,” VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia told reporters here Tuesday.

He announced a phase-wise agitation until the government met the VHP demand.

In March this year, the government had allotted about 40 hectares of forest land in Baltal to the SASB that organises the annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine at Amarnath dedicated to Lord Shiva. But Tuesday, the government backtracked and cancelled the allotment order, putting an end to a controversy that saw violent protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley last week.

But this in turn angered people in the Hindu-majority Jammu region, where authorities banned processions and assembly of more than four people to avoid further trouble.

Togadia demanded a boycott of all goods from Kashmir.

“Kashmiri handicrafts, fruits and other products from the valley should be totally boycotted,” he said, adding that the Haj subsidy must be cancelled.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), one of the largest traders organisations in the nation, has supported the VHP call.

“We have sent a message to around 5,000 trade unions associated with us across the country to down shutters on Thursday as the decision has affected the sentiments of all Hindus,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the association.

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