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JK: Amarnath Samiti ends stir after signing accord

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: August 31, 2008 15:26 IST
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The two-month-long agitation over Amarnath land row ended on Sunday after the state government and the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (AYSS) entered into an agreement in Jammu.


The agreement followed hours of hectic negotiations between the four member governor's panel headed by his advisor S S.Bloeria and the four-member team nominated by the AYSS.


Announcing the terms of the agreement to the media Bloeria said, "The land has been set aside exclusively for use by the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) which, however, would not have any proprietry/title rights on it and shall not raise any permanent structures thereon."


"The board can use the land for raising temporary pre-fabricated accommodation and toilet facilities and setting up of the shops by shopkeepers."


"The land will remain in use of SASB according to the board's requirements, from time to time for raising various facilities."


AYSS convenor Leela Karan Sharma who was also present at the press conference while announcing the suspension of the agitation described the agreement as "a victory for the people of Jammu".


Sunday's agreement supersedes the earlier government order which had revoked the forest land allotment to SASB and assigned the annual yatra arrangements to the state tourism department.


Bloeria announced that the SASB will be reconstituted "keeping in view the provisions of the Act and the past precedents."


The Samiti also put forward its other demands which relate to withdrawal of criminal cases against various persons during the period of agitation, provision of compensation to the families of the deceased and to the injured and working out of appropriate packages of financial assistance to compensate losses of the transport sector, trade and industry, horticulture sector, hoteliers and tourist operators.


The state government has agreed to examine all these demands in an appropriate manner on time-bound basis, according to an official spokesman.


Meanwhile, authorities imposed a strict curfew in the winter capital where the Samiti planned to hold a huge rally today as a precautionary measure against militant threat.


Army, police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to enforce the curfew restrictions in Jammu.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar