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Vohra advocates conciliatory approach on Amarnath land deal
Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar
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June 26, 2008 23:04 IST

Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Governor NN Vohra on Thursday advocated a conciliatory approach to the issue of transfer of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board and appealed the people to maintain peace and calm.

Vohra who took office on Wednesday urged all segments of society including all political and social organizations to "view various issues dispassionately and support all initiatives" to restore peace and order, which he strongly emphasized, is "crucial to maintaining an atmosphere of harmony and amity for which Jammu and Kashmir have been known for centuries."

Vohra expressed sorrow over the lives lost in the last few days and conveyed his sincere sympathy to the bereaved families.
Vohra was confident that all sections of the society will come forward and help in the urgent restoration of public order.

The governor said that Shri Amarnathji Yatra has been a "unique example of Kashmir's pluralistic ethos for centuries and owes its successful accomplishment to the active participation of the majority brethren." Vohra observed that the "success of the yatra without the support of local population is unimaginable" and hoped that "the people would continue to carry forward their glorious legacy without getting swayed by suspicions and provocations."

The governor said that the SASB is "deeply sensitive to the sensibilities of the people on various issues including the environmental aspects of the yatra zone" and said that "every possible effort will be made to meet fully the ecological requirements."

He said the SASB shall be open to "each and every suggestion in this regard and all necessary measures will be implemented on time bound basis."

Immediately after his swearing-in, Vohra conferred with SASB officials and was informed that not a single permanent structure had been constructed in the base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal or enroute to the cave Shrine.

Vohra issued strict instructions that besides maintenance of existing temporary structures no other activity shall be undertaken.
The governor mentioned that "we must have to respect and assuage the urges and aspirations of all sections of society and strive for a peaceful and progressive Jammu and Kashmir".

 The Communist Party of India-Marxist on Thursday accused former Jammu and Kashmir Governor S K Sinha of helping fundamentalist and extremist forces to make the pilgrimage hostage to communal politics.

In an editorial in the latest edition of the party mouthpiece People's Democracy, the CPI-M asked the Government to review the decision to transfer 39.88 hectares of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

'The decision to transfer forest land should be reviewed. All the secular parties and forces in Jammu and Kashmir should ensure that the yatra is not made hostage to communal politics,' it said.

Pointing fingers at Sinha, who stepped down as the SASB chairman and state Governor, the party said, 'Sinha is known for his pro-Bharatiya Janata Party proclivities. He was appointed as the Jammu and Kashmir Governor after his stint as the Governor of Assam. It is a mystery why the UPA government persisted with him in this sensitive position for the full term. The role of Sinha has only helped the fundamentalist and extremist forces like Syed Ali Geelani's Hurriyat, to exploit this issue. The Hindutva forces are stoking feelings in Jammu and coming out in the streets,' the party said.

Noting that the land transfer has aroused fears that this will alter Kashmiri identity, the party claimed that the manner in which Sinha behaved as the governor and chairman of the SASB has exacerbated these fears.

Sinha also came in conflict with Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad by insisting that the duration of the Amarnath yatra be increased to two months as against the one month schedule being continued by the state government, it noted.

Additional Reportage: PTI

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