Police halt Hurriyat signature campaign, dozens arrested

June 17th, 2008 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Ali G

Srinagar, June 17 (IANS) Dozens of activists of the separatist Hurriyat Conference were arrested here Tuesday while they were conducting a signature campaign against the controversial allotment of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Activists of the breakaway Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani gathered in Regal Chowk area of the Residency Road here, protesting the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to SASB in north Kashmir’s Baltal area in Ganderbal district. They claim the land allotment would harm the delicate ecology of the north Kashmir forests.

The protestors had started a signature campaign against the land allotment when police intervened.

“Dozens of our peaceful activists were taken into custody,” one of the activists said.

Both the factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference have decided to join hands to agitate against the allotment of land to the SASB.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), headed by former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, tried to distance itself from the controversy, saying that it was the Congress party that had decided to allot forest land to the shrine board.

Incidentally, the forest portfolio is currently held by PDP leader Qazi Muhammad Afzal.

Opposition National Conference (NC) leaders, meanwhile, blamed the PDP for being party to the controversial land allotment.

“They have now started to oppose the allotment while they have all along been in power when the allotment was made,” said Abdul Rahim Rather, leader of the opposition in the state assembly.

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