Controversy over land transfer to Amarnath shrine board

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Srinagar, June 20 : The issue of land transfer to the Amarnath shrine board in Jammu and Kashmir has snowballed into a full-blown controversy.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government recently transferred nearly 40 hectares of forest land in Baltal area to the Shri Amarnath-ji Shrine Board (SASB) for 23.1 million rupees.

The move drew sharp reaction across the political spectrum. It brought together two bitter factions of the separatist All-Party Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) to resist the move.

Hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said they would work together to oppose the move.

"We have decided that we will work together and decide on the future course of action," said Mirwaiz.

The shrine board's CEO Arun Kumar, who is also the Principal Secretary to the state Governor Lt. General (Retired) S.K. Sinha, confirmed this week that the land transfer was "permanent" and legitimate as the shrine board is a state body.

While the move implies an implicit approval of the Congress party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference Party have opposed the move.

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