M A I N   N E W S

Amarnath Land Row
Hope floats in Jammu
Governor’s panel and Samiti leaders speak of ‘fruitful’ discussions; sources said the J&K government had
proposed the use of the 40 hectares of controversial land in Baltal during the Amarnath Yatra
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 23
A solution to the Amarnath land issue appeared in sight today after a “broad understanding” was reached following three rounds of talks between a four-member panel formed by Governor N.N. Vohra and the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti. The panel will report the outcome of the talks to the state government.

Brig (retd) Suchet Singh, Samiti leader, said the agitation over the issue would continue till a solution is arrived at. After the first two rounds, the two sides had termed the dialogue as “fruitful and productive”.

Sources said the state government had proposed the use of the 40 hectares of controversial land in Baltal during the Amarnath Yatra.

However, it was not yet clear as to how land use would be allowed — through the state tourism department or by diverting it to the shrine board.

Talking to mediapersons after the second round of talks, Dr S. S. Bloeria, adviser to the Governor, said the two sides had a “fruitful discussion in a congenial atmosphere” and “we have decided to meet again.”

On being asked as to what proposals were discussed, he said, “I could not let everything out as of now.”

Samiti members Tilakraj Sharma and Brig Suchet Singh said, “The talks were positive.” They said they were again going back to the core committee of the samiti for some clarifications.

They, however, clarified that there was no stumbling block in the dialogue process and it was heading in a positive direction.

They said they focused primarily on their core issues of restoration of the land to the shrine board and autonomy of the board.

On queries regarding any compensation for the losses suffered by Jammu due to the agitation and withdrawal of FIRs against protesters, they said, “We have not deviated from the core issue, which is the restoration of land to the shrine board.”

The samiti again held a meeting in the evening, in which the government’s proposal was discussed threadbare among the members of its 21-member core committee and four-member legal panel to have a clear idea of what was being offered.

Earlier, the Governor’s panel exchanged views with the representatives of the samiti for well over one and a half hour during the first round of talks that started around 9.45 am.

The samiti members then headed to the Geeta Bhawan to discuss the proposal put forth by the government.

The two parties were again back on the negotiating table in the afternoon and held discussions that lasted for around a couple of hours.

The samiti members refused to divulge the proposals being put forth by the government. They said, “It is too premature to disclose anything about the proposals. We will put all the proposals before the samiti and further decision would be taken thereafter.”

Meanwhile, the two sides remained tight-lipped on the proposals they discussed during the three rounds of talks.

However, there were reports of the proposal for the reconstitution of the shrine board by nominating at least six members from the state.





The challenge is to take valley along

The government may have taken some positive steps in resolving the Amarnath land row, but the biggest challenge it faces is to make them acceptable both to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

It will have to allay fears of the people in the valley regarding the ownership rights of the land and setting up of permanent structures on it.

At the same time, it will also have to address the concerns regarding the land
being diverted to the Shrine Board headed by a non-state subject by reconstituting the board.

The government would also have to ensure that there is absolute clarity in the solution so that there is no scope of any misinformation campaign raising its head in the valley. — TNS



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