Azad announces SASB's decision not to claim forest land

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Srinagar, Jun 29 (UNI) A day after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) withdrew support from the Jammu and Kashmir government on the issue of forest land being alloted to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today announced that the SASB has taken its request for the land back.

Mr Azad told newspersons that state Governor N N Vohra, who is also SASB chairman, had conveyed this information to him in a letter.

He had also asked the government to make all the necessary arrangments for ensuring a smooth pilgrimage.

Clarifying that the SASB was not dissolved as being alleged by some people in the state, the Chief Minister said the government would only provide facilities to yatris and not interfere in the religious matters.

Mr Azad said he had earlier received a letter from Mr Vohra asking if it was possible for the government to make all arrangements for the pilgrims during the yatra period.

In his reply, the Chief Minister had said the government would be more than pleased to provide all facilities to the yatris.

Mr Azad said he had then received a fresh letter from Mr Vohra in which he had stated that the SASB did not need any forest land as was requested earlier.

''We withdraw the request made earlier for diversion of forest land to the SASB for making arrangments for the yatris,'' Mr Vohra was quoted by Mr Azad as saying.

However, the Action Committee Against Land Transfer (ACALT) has decided to continue the agitation till the transfer order of the land was not revoked.

Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoum, who was appointed head of the ACALT by both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference, said the agitation would continue till the cabinetd revoked the order and placed it before the public.

''Peaceful agitation would continue and the call for a grand march towards the historic Jamia masjid still stands,'' he said..

Chairman of the breakaway HC Syed Ali Shah Geelani was also supporting the ACALT.

He held PDP and Congress equally responsible for the land transfer saying support withdrwal from the government was a political gimmick.

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