PM to chair all-party meet tomorrow on Amarnath

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New Delhi, Aug 5 (UNI) In view of the protracted agitation over the Amarnath Shrine land issue in Jammu and Kashmir, the Government will hold an all-party meeting tomorrow to evolve a consensus to resolve the contentious issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair the meeting in which leaders of various parties would present their views on resolving the issue which has rocked Jammu and Kashmir and widened the communal divide in the border state.

The meeting would be briefed about the report of the Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and the Defence Secretary who visited the state yesterday to assess the situation. The delegation is returning this evening and brief Home Minister Shivraj Patil about the situation in the state.

The Centre has offered all possible assistance to the state government in bringing peace in the strife-torn state.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had earlier talked to BJP leaders to discuss the Amarnath land controversy on Sunday. The BJP has already announced to hold nationwide protests against the revoking of land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. Violent protests have rocked Jammu on this issue since July.

The Left parties have been stressing the need for discussing the Amarnath Land allotment in Parliament and criticised the government for not calling the monsoon session. CPI leader A B Bardhan has called for an ''acceptable'' solution to all the local parties, be it the National Conference, BJP and the Panthers Party without further delay.

Charging the BJP, the Bajrang Dal and the VHP with letting their workers come out on the streets to foment communal disharmony to find a issue like that of the Ram temple for political purposes, Mr Bardhan said the main issue was to provide facilities to the lakhs of devotees who throng the Kashmir valley to visit Amarnath shrine.

The controversy over the issue of land for the Amarnath shrine trust has polarised Kashmir with widespread protest in Jammu over the state government's decision to revert land transfer.

The state government had first planned to transfer land to build shelters for Hindu pilgrims visiting Amarnath cave shrine to pray by a sacred shivlingam. However, faced with huge Muslim protests, it rescinded the order, sparking demonstrations by Hindus in Jammu area.

Meanwhile, two Congress MPs from the state have criticised a political party for mishandling of the Amarnath land transfer issue and have demanded removal of Governor N Vohra from chairmanship of the Shrine Board and appoint Mr Karan Singh on the post as he was non-controversial. They said the Managing Committee of the Shrine Board should be reconstituted with members from local prominent figures and from the minority community representing the Valley.


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