Amarnath pilgrims our guests, provide them food: Geelani

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Srinagar, Jun 27 (UNI) Appealing to people to provide food and shelter to Amarnath yatris, Chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat Conference (HC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani today said Kashmiris were not against the pilgrimage.

He said that since hotels and other restaurants were closed due to strike, people must come forward and provide food and shelter to yatris ''who are our guests.'' He appealed to people not to cause any harm to yatris who had nothing to do with the transfer of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

A spokesman of the HC Aiyaz Akbar said Mr Geelani, who is under house arrest for the past four days, condemned police action against peaceful processionists protesting against the transfer of 800 kanals of forest land to SASB by the government.

He urged people to carry on their struggle in a peaceful way. ''We should not allow our enemies to give it a communal colour,'' Mr Geelani said adding, ''we are not against Hindu religion or Amarnath pilgrimage.'' He said people of the Kashmir valley were in fact helping the yatris and treating them as guests.

The period of the yatra, which was just 15 days in the past, was extended to two months under a deep-rooted conspiracy, he said.

The Hurriyat chairman said the affairs of the pilgrimage were being managed by the Kashmiri pandits for centuries and they never felt the necessity for the transfer of land for the yatra.

He said the land transfer was part of a hidden agenda of the former governor Lt General (retd) S K Sinha to change the demography of the state, which always was a muslim majority.

UNI BAS QAB PK RAI1847

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