A major political initiative in working out a roadmap to resolve the Amarnath land row ended in a stalemate as talks between the visiting all-party delegation led by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and the Shri Amarnath Sangarash Samiti remained inconclusive. The Jammu agitationists refused to scale down the intensity of their protests even after Patil promised that their demands would be “taken up for consideration with the Prime Minister”.
“We will try to work out a solution which is acceptable to the people of both regions — the Kashmir Valley and Jammu,” Patil told newspersons after day-long talks with several delegations in Jammu, including the Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti leading the 40-day agitation.
Jammu agitationists, however, rejected any suggestion to alter their demands or suspend their agitation. They were unwilling to settle for anything short of restoration of the land to the shrine board.
The Home Minister who led the central delegation promised all the facilities to pilgrims and compensation of Rs 3.50 lakh to the next of kin of all those killed in police and army firing during the agitation.
While talks were being held in a “cordial atmosphere” in a hotel, people defied curfew and came face-to-face with security forces raising their demand for the return of the land to the shrine board. Thousands of demonstrators were out on streets chanting religious slogans and carrying the tricolour.
The nearly two-hour-long talks between the all-party delegation and the sangarsh samiti took place only after four leaders of Jammu and Kashmir — former chief ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Farooq Abdullah — and PCC president Saifuddin Soz and People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti were excluded from the dialogue. Earlier, Samiti leadership had said it would “boycott” the talks if these leaders were present at the negotiations. They said these four leaders had “ignited communal passions” and “patronised separatists” by getting the land transfer order rescinded.
The Kashmiri leadership has already warned against any return of the land and Jammu’s anger against leaders of Kashmir was evident in the massive protests.