At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the Jammu and Kashmir government declared that 100 acres of land in Kashmir would be set aside for the exclusive use of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.
The sprawling lawns of the state guesthouse in Jammu erupted in celebrations. For minutes, nothing could be heard as the advisor to the Governor, S.S. Bloeria, emerged with a paper in his hand at 4.45 am, reading out the clause of the agreement.
The clauses dealt with issues ranging from the exclusive use of the land by the board for the yatra period to raising prefabricated structures for pilgrims. The conduct of the pilgrimage is the sole responsibility of the board, the government asserted.
The ownership of the land, however, will stay with the state government.
The Samiti announced it has suspended the agitation, which virtually meant calling it off, as this was aimed at watching the government deliver on its promise of withdrawing criminal cases against the youth and others held during the 61-day agitation.
Manmohan Khajuria, retired police chief of the state, said the intensity was “unprecedented and unheard of” in Jammu, which did not sleep on the night of Saturday-Sunday waiting to hear the result of the talks between the Samiti and Governor’s panel.
But what followed was clamping of curfew and calling of the Army. This immediately halted the celebrations, which could have provoked a violent backlash in the Kashmir Valley.
Despite the agreement, the Samiti declined to call off its provincial-level rally scheduled for Sunday morning at the Maulana Azad Memorial stadium. “The rally could have become the target of terrorists who are still around,” said K. Rajendra, Inspector General of Police, Jammu zone.