31 August :The more than two-month-long agitation in Jammu over the Amarnath land transfer row ended on Sunday as the state govt and the group spearheading the movement signed an agreement allowing the shrine board to make use of 40 hectares of land in Kashmir during the yatra period. The breakthrough in the negotiations evoked mixed response with street celebrations in Jammu while Kashmir Valley witnessed sporadic violent protests against the agreement which was rejected by PDP and separatist groups but welcomed by BJP, NC and VHP.
The agreement was reached in the wee hours on Sunday after six hours of talks between Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS) and the four-member panel of the state government headed by S S Bloeria, Adviser to Governor N N Vohra.
Curfew was clamped in Jammu city and army called out as a precautionary measure to prevent people from participating in the ‘vijay’ (victory) rally called by SAYSS keeping in view of reports of presence of militants who could use the occasion to trigger violence.
Addressing a press conference with Bloeria shortly after signing the accord, Samiti’s convener Leela Karan Sharma said, "We have suspended the agitation for the time being and not called it off, as some of our demands are yet to be met.
"The exclusive use of the land has been given to the (shrine) board without charging any money. This has been agreed upon."
Under the deal, the government has agreed to set aside 800 kanals of land at Baltal and Domail in Kashmir without any payment.
Bloeria said the proprietary status, ownership and title of the land shall not undergo any change. The board shall use the land for the duration of the yatra including the period of making the required arrangements and winding up of the same.
Expressing satisfaction over the accord, BJP leader L K Advani claimed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told him the government will not succumb to "pressure from separatists.
"And now the decision has been reached, I feel happy," he told reporters in Delhi on Sunday.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and NC leader Farooq Abdullah termed the accord as "a very good sign", which indicated that the over two-month-long dispute over land transfer had reached an "amicable end".
However, rejecting the accord, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said the decision over-ruled the sensitivities of the state’s majority community.
"The decision has been taken unilaterally by the Central government, which has not taken care of the sensitivity of the majority community," she said.
The VHP hailed the agreement and congratulated the Samiti for "fighting a long hard battle for Amarnath and winning it with glory". Meanwhile, the coordination committee of separatist groups rejected the accord.
"Although the land issue has no importance for us at the moment, we reject the agreement," a spokesman of the Committee said in Srinagar.
On the other hand, sporadic violence occurred in Kashmir Valley with mobs indulging in clashes with police prompting authorities to re-clamp curfew in parts of Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara districts.
At least nine persons were injured as police fired rubber bullets and teargas shells to disperse mobs protesting the accord, arrest of separatist leaders, youth and high handedness of security forces, official sources said.