Thousands court arrest in Orissa over Amarnath land row

August 21st, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 21 (IANS) Thousands of agitators Thursday offered themselves for arrest in Orissa to demand restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, the police said. The activists under the banner of Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) marched on the streets shouting slogans and staged protests against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance central government.

They courted arrest after holding demonstrations in front of the offices of the collectors in most districts of the state, the police said.

“The number of activists courting arrest would be thousands,” state SASS leader Subash Chouhan told IANS.

The jail bharo (fill-the-jails) agitation in the state was part of the nationwide protest that has been launched by SASS, he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parisad, Bajrang Dal and Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh participated in the agitation. Those who courted arrest include BJP national vice president Jual Oram at the steel city of Rourkela, Chouhan said.

“The central government is surrendering to the diktats of Kasmhiri separatists and we are determined to fight against it,” said Chouhan.

The genesis of the trouble lies in the Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision in May to allot 40 hectares of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board that manages the annual pilgrimage to the high altitude shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The decision led to massive protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. Its revocation July 1 ignited a counter agitation in the Hindu majority Jammu region.

Shutdowns, curfew and violent clashes have polarised Jammu against Kashmir and led to about 40 deaths in the state. Protests over the Amarnath land row have been held in several other states too.

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