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J&K land issue: 'It's a question of people's sentiments'
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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June 30, 2008 23:10 IST
All Party Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Monday said that the taking possesion of forest land by the Amarnath Shrine Board was not simply an issue of taking away land that belonged to a forest area.  

Speaking to, Mirwaiz said: "The people took to the streets on their own; Nobody instigated them. Don't Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley have sentiments? Can't they buy land in their own state to create facilities to visit the Amarnath cave? It is a question of people's sentiments. The yatra has been going on for over 150 years and we have welcomed our Hindu brothers for the yatra. Even today, I went myself to the Valley to distribute food to pilgrims."

Admitting that he would not mind if the Amarnath shrine board was headed by Kashmiri Pandits, Farooq said: "You are talking about a piece of land when people in the Valley are talking about Azadi (Freedom)."

The Mirwaiz accused the media of playing the Centre's game by asking the APHC if they were planning to contest the forthcoming assembly elections. "We have already made it clear that we are not going to participate in the elections," Farooq said.

When asked whether the Pakistani government had prevented the Hurriyat delegation from participating in some events, the APHC chairman said incidents were being blown out of proportion by some vested interests.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh had declared that his party would make the allotment of land and its subsequent withdrawal by the Gulam Nabi Azad government, a national issue. Senior party leaders will meet on Tuesday in New Delhi [Images] to decide the party's course of action on the issue.

"It must remain matter of huge concern that the newly-appointed Governor (NN Vohra) has gone by Azad's line, which is as dubious and decietful as it is communally-motivated. The BJP demands that Azad's government, which has become a national security risk, be thrown out and the state be placed under president's rule before the elections are held," R P Singh, J&K BJP leader told

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