M A I N   N E W S

Sangharsh samiti suspends stir
Pact reached on Amarnath land row
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 31
After over two months of stir, the Amarnath land row was finally resolved with the state government agreeing to set aside 800 kanals of land in Baltal exclusively for the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board during the annual Amarnath yatra period. With this the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti also announced to suspend its ongoing agitation over the issue.

The final agreement was reached after over seven hours of discussion between Governor N.N. Vohra's four-member panel and the samiti in the wee hours today.

Later, addressing a crowded press conference at 4.30 a.m., Adviser to the Governor S.S. Bloeria said: "The state government shall set aside for use by the shrine board, exclusively, the land in Baltal and Domail (compartment No. 63-S, Sindh forest division) comprising an area of 800 kanals traditionally under use for the annual yatra purposes." He, however, said the propriety status /ownership/title of the land shall not undergo any change.

Bloeria said the board shall use the land for the duration of the yatra, including the period of making the required arrangements and winding up of the same. The land shall be used as per the board's requirements from time to time, including raising of temporary pre-fabricated accommodation and toilet facilities, establishment of tented accommodation by private camping agencies and setting up of the shops by shopkeepers (locals, permanent residents of the state), he said. It had further been agreed that the board shall continue to function for overall yatra arrangements for the pilgrims on all routes during the period of yatra by the shrine board as mandated by the provisions of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Act, 2000.

Addressing the media, samiti convener Leela Karan Sharma expressed satisfaction that the core issue had been resolved, adding that unlike the previous occasion, the shrine board has been allowed the exclusive use of land without charging any money. He also said the shrine board would be reconstituted keeping in view the provisions of the Act and the past precedents. He termed the agreement as the “victory of the people of Jammu” and said the samiti had got “much more than it had fought for”.

Sharma said the samiti also presented a 14-point “charter of demands” for consideration by the state government. The main demands relate to withdrawal of cases registered against the protesters during the stir, compensation to the families of the deceased and to the injured, and working out appropriate packages of financial assistance to compensate losses of the transport sector, trade and industry, horticulture sector, hoteliers and tourist operators. The government had agreed to examine all these demands in an appropriate manner on a time-bound basis.

As regards the registration of criminal cases against various persons during the period of agitation, it was agreed that all cases of non-serious nature, which shall mean bailable and compoundable, would be withdrawn. The remaining cases would be reviewed, on the merits of each case, by a committee headed by Anil Goswami, principal secretary (home), within 60 days. Till the completion of this process, no action would be taken in such cases.

Ex gratia would be extended in favour of next of the kin of the deceased and those permanently disabled and injured in all cases would be covered under the existing rules of the government.

A working group headed by the Chief Secretary would address all compensation issues relating to both Jammu and Kashmir divisions and the Central government will be approached for extending enabling financial support to the state government for this purpose within two months.

It was agreed that the Law Department would examine the issue of disposal of LPA in terms of the understanding made hereinabove within one month.

Bid to allay 
valley’s fears

The government has made all efforts to address the concerns of the valley over the land row issue. It has made it clear that the proprietary status of the land would not change. Last time, when the previous Congress government had diverted the land to the board, there were rumours that the land had been diverted permanently to the board. There were also apprehensions of a “demographic change” in the valley. The government has also taken care of it by agreeing that the shops and other structures on the land would be the responsibility of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The government has also made it amply clear that the land will be available for use by the shrine board only during the yatra period.

Pact Highlights

800 kanals of land in Baltal and Domail to be set aside exclusively for use by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board during the Amarnath Yatra.

The land shall be used for raising only temporary pre-farbricated structures. No amount to be charged for use of land by the shrine board.

Only permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir would be allowed to set up tented accommodation and shops on the land.

The shrine board to function for overall yatra arrangements for pilgrims on all routes during the yatra period.

Bailable cases registered against the protesters during stir to be withdrawn Ex gratia for those killed and injured during the agitation.

Working Group to address all compensation issues relating to trade and industry, transporters, hoteliers, tourist operators, horticulture sector.

Samiti spokesperson Narinder Singh clarified that the samiti had not called off its agitation as it would see as to how the state government proceeds on implementing the agreement. "There are various issues involved in it. Firstly, the government has to issue an order on setting aside the land exclusively for the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. Secondly, the government has to withdraw the cases, depending on their merit, within 60 days. Thirdly, ex-gratia relief has to be given to the families of the martyrs. Similarly, the time limit to address compensation issues is also two months," he said. The process to lift the Public Safety Act from Dinesh Bharati and a Hiranagar youth was also on, he added.



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