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Amarnath shrine board not to pursue land transfer
Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
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June 29, 2008 15:01 IST
Last Updated: June 29, 2008 20:22 IST

The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board on Sunday gave up its claim on the 39.88 hectares of forest land after an assurance from Jammu and Kashmir [Images] government that it was capable of providing all facilities to pilgrims going to the shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.

In a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad, Governor N N Vohra, the shrine board chairman, said in view of the firm commitment that interests of the pilgrims will be fully protected, the board does not need to pursue its earlier request for forest land to create facilities.

Governor NN Vohra, who also heads the SASB seems to have worked out this solution which addresses the current unrest in Kashmir on the controversial forest land transfer to SASB, without ruffling the feathers anywhere else. 

The communication is a smooth attempt to transfer the management of the annual yatra back to the state government, which is likely to end the controversy over the forest land transfer to SASB.

Azad, in reply, assured the governor that it was fully capable of undertaking the task. The state government is in a better position to provide better facilities to the pilgrims on a larger scale than the board, Azad told media-persons after receiving the letter from Vohra.

Azad said while the state government will look after all the logistics including security, lodging, boarding, temporary shelters on way to cave shrine, the shrine board will look after the religious rituals associated with the annual yatra.

Asked if the controversial order transferring the land to the board would be rescinded, the chief minister said the state cabinet will take action based on the governor's letter.

"When the shrine board does not need the land what is the importance of the order (transferring the land to shrine board)?" Azad asked when persistently queried about it.

Azad again sought to clarify that the land in question had not been transferred to the shrine board as formalities for the same had not been completed.

For the transfer of land, the money had to be deposited (by the board) with the government and the land had to be demarcated. None of these things have happened. The order just remains on paper, the chief minister added.

In his letter to Azad, the governor said: "I appeal to the leaders of all sections of the society to urgently call upon their followers to halt the ongoing protests with immediate effect so that peace and normalcy are restored and the Amarnath Yatra, which is a shining symbol of the deeply secular traditions of Kashmir people can go on." .

Additional Reportage : PTI

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