Amarnath talks: Fourth round begins in Jammu (Second Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 11:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Aug 30 (IANS) The fourth round of talks between a government panel and the conglomerate of Hindu groups agitating for the return of controversial forest land to a temple trust began here late Saturday evening.The Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS), an umbrella organisation of some 30 Hindu outfits, has demanded that the Jammu and Kashmir government be specific about the use of the 40 hectares of land to the management board of a high-altitude cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

All four members of the panel appointed by Governor N.N. Vohra, S.S. Bloeria, Amitabh Mattoo, B.B. Vyas and G.D. Sharma who held three round of talks with SASS Aug 23, arrived at the state guest house around 8.45 p.m.

The talks, scheduled to start at 4.30 p.m., were delayed by a few hours. Neither side appeared at the venue at the earlier scheduled time. The SASS said it received the invite for talks very late.

Transfer of forest land meant for creating facilities for Hindu pilgrims to the Amarnath cave shrine, and its subsequent revocation have had Jammu region and the Kashmir valley on the boil for the last two and a half months.

At least 50 people have been killed, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the agitation.

First Muslims in the valley protested against the land diversion and later Hindus demonstrated against its revocation allegedly blocking the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway - the only motorable link to the Kashmir valley.

SASS spokesperson Suchet Singh 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.

Singh is head of the four-member SASS panel holding talks with the governor’s panel.

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