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Sound & fury over nothing?

india Updated: Jun 28, 2008 02:01 IST
Arun Joshi

It can happen only in Jammu and Kashmir. If sources are to be believed, it seems that the ongoing protests across the Valley over allotment of land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) by the state government has spiraled out of nothing.

According to official sources, no such land has been allotted to the shrine board authorities nor has any land been demarcated for this purpose. So far, the land transfer is only on paper.

The sources further added that neither any request for such a transfer nor any payment in this regard has been made by the SASB. Still, the protests have spiraled out of control and so far consumed three lives and left scores injured.

“More than a month has passed when the state cabinet approved the “diversion” of 100 acres of land to the SASB on May 26. Thereafter, nothing else has transpired on the subject,” official sources told the Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.

“There is no change in the status. Officially, neither the shrine board has been handed over the possession of the land nor it has signed any documents to that effect. The land continues to be with the forest department,” sources added.

The state forest department had permitted the SASB to use its land for construction of prefabricated structures as per the order dated May 29, 2005. But the said permission was cancelled by the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

A Division Bench of the state High Court then stayed the cancellation and made it clear in its interim directions on May 17, 2005, that the land to be allotted to the board would be only for the purpose of the devotees and would remain limited for the duration of Amarnath Yatra.

“The board shall also identify the sites to be allotted for the purpose of ‘langar’, erection of detachable/prefabricated huts and toilets etc. which would not be permanent in nature and are liable to be removed after the period of Yatra is over,” the court had said.

Moreover, this has also exposed the fact that the SASB did not make any payment. However, former governor of the state S.K. Sinha maintains that the board had made a payment of Rs. 2.5 crore.