BJP protests opposition to transfer of land to Amarnath Shrine Board

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Jammu/Srinagar June 24 : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) protestors blocked the highway here today to counter a separatist campaign in the Kashmir Valley for the non-transfer of land to the Amarnath shrine board.

The highway was blocked for several hours.

Last week, local authorities said that nearly 100 acres of forestland in southern Kashmir was being transferred to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to erect temporary structures for thousands of pilgrims who annually trek to the cave shrine deep in the Himalayas.

The BJP alleged that political leaders in the valley were using the issue to play votebank politics.

Yugul Kishore, a state legislator of BJP, said, "The Amarnath Shrine Board has both Hindus and Muslims, and the BJP has faith in the board." "The land has been allotted for amenities, but today, they are demanding its withdrawal. We will not tolerate this at all," he added.

In a related incident, lawyers gathered under the banner of Kashmir Bar Association and staged a protest march against the allocation of land to the shrine board. The march started from the High court complex and concluded at the historic Lal Chowk.

Police had to earlier use tear gas to end a violent demonstration in the city.

Kashmiri separatists say that the fragile ecology of the mountainous region would be ruined by building "permanent" structures at the base camps leading up to the Amarnath shrine.

During the two-month-long pilgrimage, tens of thousands of Hindus trek to the cave, situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,700 feet), to pray to an ice stalagmite believed to be the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva.

ANI

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