Board gives up claim on forest land in J&K | india | Hindustan Times
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Board gives up claim on forest land in J&K

A day after PDP pulled out from the Cong-led coalition Govt in J&K, Governor N N Vohra said the Amarnath Shrine Board will not pursue transfer of land.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2008 18:00 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 government that it was capable of providing all facilities to pilgrims going to the shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

In a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Governor NN 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 of forest land for creating facilities.

The latest letter from Vohra to Azad comes in the wake of exchange of letters between the two earlier over the past two days and is likely to end the seven-day strike and violent protests that have rocked the Kashmir valley.

Vohra had sought to know from the state government if it could cater to the needs of the pilgrims and ensure a smooth and safe pilgrimage.

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 reporters after receiving the letter from Vohra.

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Asked if the controversial order transferring the land to the board would be rescinded, the chief minister said the state cabinet will take action based on the governor's letter.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

He 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."