All party meeting on Amarnath forest issue evokes mixed reaction

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Srinagar, June 26 : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's decision to hold an all party meeting to resolve the issue over the transfer of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) today has attracted mixed reaction from political parties.

People's Democratic Party leader and former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohamad Sayeed rejected the proposal, saying it was too late to hold such consultations.

He has said if at all consultation was needed at the political level, it should have been done before issuance of order.

Former Chief Minister, Ghulam Mohammad Shah demanded the control of the shrine board to be handed over to local Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims.

Separatist leader Sayeed Ali Shah Gilani said: "We are not against Hindu religion or the Amarnath yatra." He called for cultural and political aggression.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has called for a shutdown in Jammu today. Other political members of the Sangh Parivar, the Shiva Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have endorsed the call.

Meanwhile, Hindu protesters burnt tyres in the middle of roads and staged demonstrations at various places in the city.

Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed while public transport was off the road in towns of the Kashmir valley.

Police had to fire tear gas shells at youth in Natipora, Rambagh, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Nowpora, Hawal and Gojwara, as the latter hurled stones.

Attendance at government and semi-government institutions was thin due to non-availability of transport.

At least three persons have been killed and nearly 100 others, including 35 policemen, injured in the police firing and clashes between stone-throwing demonstrators and security forces during the past four days in the city.

Kashmiri separatists allege that the transfer of land to the Hindu shrine is aimed at changing the demography of Kashmir. This has been refuted by the State Government.

Nearly 100 acres of forestland in Kashmir was transferred to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to erect temporary structures for pilgrims who annually trek to the cave shrine located, deep in the Himalayas.

ANI

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