Government and Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti sign agreement (Second lead)

August 31st, 2008 - 8:07 am ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Aug 31 ( IANS) The leaders of Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti and the Governor’s panel signed an agreement early Sunday after a three-hour-long fifth round of talks in which the government gave exclusive rights to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASS) to use the land at Baltal in Kashmir during the Amarnath yatra period.Addressing a joint press conference Sudhir Singh Bloeria, the advisor to Governor, and Samiti convenor Leela Karan Sharma announced that an agreement has been reached.

Samiti also announced the suspension of its agitation and said that it would like to watch action on the ground regarding the revocation of cases against the people booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Bloeria, reading out the broad contours of the agreement said that the land at Baltal and Domail shall be set aside exclusively for the use of the shrine board and the board would be reconstituted and the board would be responsible for holding the yatra from both the routes - traditional Pahalgam route and the shorter route via Baltal - to the cave shrine of Shri Amarnath.

The title of the land would remain unchanged.

It was also agreed that the shops and other structures would be the responsibility of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sharma described the agreement as “victory of the people of Jammu” and voiced his jubilation saying that the Samiti has got “much more than it had fought for”.

While Bloeria and Sharma were holding press conference at 4.45 a.m., drum beats and slogans of “Bamb Bamb Bhole” hailing lord Shiva were heard by newsmen who had been waiting at the state guest house, which was the venue of the talks.

The fourth round of talks - after the three rounds held on Aug 23 - started at 8.45 p.m. Saturday evening and lasted till midnight, before the Samiti panel of four went back to their leaders for further consultation.

The leaders returned at 1.30 a.m. Sunday with all their 21 leaders for the fifth round, which lasted till 4.30 a.m., and immediately thereafter an agreement was signed.

The agreement effectively ends the more than two-month-long agitation in Jammu for the restoration of the land to the shrine board. The agitation began after the state government cancelled its earlier decision of allotment of nearly 40 hectares of land to the board.

The state government had cancelled the allotment as the decision had triggered protests in the valley. The protests were fuelled by the fear that the demographic character of Muslim majority Kashmir would be altered with the settling of outsiders on the piece of land allotted to the shrine board.

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