Breakthrough likely in Amarnath land row (Third Lead)August 23rd, 2008 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, Aug 23 (IANS) A solution to the festering Amarnath land row in Jammu and Kashmir seemed to be in sight after a government panel and agitators Saturday discussed the use of controversial 40 hectares of land during the Hindu pilgrimage season.During the second round of talks between Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) and Governor N.N. Vohra’s panel that lasted for about one and a half hours Saturday afternoon, the focus was on the diversion of the piece of land at Baltal in north Kashmir for about three months.
According to sources, both the sides have made a “substantial progress” in resolving the Amarnath land row issue at the end of the second round of talks.
The third round of talks would be held in the evening.
Though the government side remained tight lipped over the nature of the progress on the issue, SASS spokesperson Suchet Singh said the talks were “fruitful and productive”.
“We are progressing,” he told waiting reporters.
Informed sources said the government was willing to give 40 hectares of land in north Kashmir to the shrine board for use during the pilgrimage period of two or three months. The issue as to how it would be done was being sorted out.
SASS leaders have discussed the matters with their experts to get legal definition of the diversion of the land to the shrine board in a more specific and firm manner.
According to sources from both sides, they were inching towards a solution that would help in normalising the situation in Jammu region, where an agitation for the restoration of the land to the shrine board has been going on for almost two and a half months.
“We have exchanged constructive views with each other and will meet again,” the governor’s adviser S.S. Bloeria, who led the four-member government committee, told reporters after the first round of talks in the morning.
SASS leaders said the talks were held in a “cordial atmosphere”.
“The dialogue shall succeed,” said SASS spokesperson Tilak Raj Sharma.
The state government had May 26 transferred a 40-hectare plot of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board but withdrew this following protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. The revocation July 1 ignited an agitation in the Hindu majority Jammu region.
The SASS insists that the land be restored to the shrine board. “Nothing short of it,” panel member Suchet Singh had told reporters before the talks started.
The four-member government panel has Bloeria, retired high court judge G.D. Sharma, Jammu University vice chancellor Amitabh Mattoo and Amarnath Shrine Board CEO B.B. Vyas, who is also the governor’s principal secretary.
The three representatives of the SASS are Tilak Raj Sharma, Narinder Singh and Pawan Kohli.