Amarnath talks delayed by a few hours (Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Aug 30 (IANS) The talks scheduled Saturday late afternoon between a governmental panel and the conglomerate of Hindu groups agitating for the return of controversial forest land to a temple trust have been delayed by a few hours.Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS), an umbrella organisation of some 30 Hindu outfits, earlier demanded that the Jammu and Kashmir government be specific about the use of the 40 hectares of land to the management board of high altitude cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

The SASS has been heading the over two-month-long Jammu agitation for the restoration of the land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. The land was first allotted to the board and the allocation then cancelled by the state government following massive protests in the Kashmir valley. The cancellation calmed tempers in Kashmir, but ignited a counter-agitation in Hindu-dominated Jammu.

The fourth round of talks between the government appointed panel and the SASS in resolving the land row were to start at 4.30 p.m. but didn’t start at the scheduled time.

Neither side appeared at the state guest house, the venue of the talks.

All the four members of the panel appointed by Governor N.N. Vohra - S.S. Bloeria, Amitabh Mattoo, B.B. Vyas and G.D. Sharma - are in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Bloeria and Vyas flew in from Srinagar this afternoon.

The SASS said it received the invite for talks very late and would take some time to be at the venue.

“We will decide our timings after deliberating on the whole issue again,” SASS convenor Leela Karan Sharma told reporters.

Earlier Suchet Singh, spokesperson of the SASS, said the formula for use of the land at Baltal for the pilgrimage period should be specific. “It shouldn’t be vague,” he told reporters.

Suchet Singh is head of the four-member panel of the SASS that has been holding talks with the governor’s panel since Aug 23.

However, a government official insisted that the SASS had been informed about the timing of the talks.

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