Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti to boycott talks with all-party delegation

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Jammu, Aug 9 : Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS), the group spearheading the agitation over the Amarnath land transfer row, has decided not to hold talks with the all party team arriving in Jammu on Saturday to defuse the crisis.

The Samiti convenor, Leela Karan Sharma said: "Earlier, We had decided to take part in the all-party meet and place our viewpoint before them. But the very presence of three major Kashmiri leaders -- UnionWater Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti -- has made us rethink our decision and boycott the meet." "They are responsible for the fire in which the state is engulfed. They are the culprits. How can we talk to them?" Sharma added.

An 18-member all-party delegation, headed by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil is visiting Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday and Sunday to assess the situation in the wake of the continuing agitation in Jammu over the Amarnath land controversy.

Following the Samiti's decision to boycott the talks, the programme of the delegation would be rescheduled. They would now meet the political parties in Jammu and try to assess the situation, sources said.

On Sunday, the delegation is scheduled to visit Srinagar, where dozens of protesters, including policemen, were injured Friday when security forces foiled attempts by demonstrators to reach the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOG) office.

The Home Minister has said that the Centre would "go step by step," in finding a solution to the Amarnath land row.

Besides Soz, Mehbooba and Farooq, the other members are: Union Ministers, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), A Raja (DMK), Prithviraj Chavan and Sriprakash Jaiswal (both Congress), Arun Jaitley (BJP), Amar Singh (SP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D. Raja (CPI), Mohsina Kidwai (Congress), K. C. Tyagi (JD-U), Naresh Gujral (SAD), Akhthar Hassan (BSP) and R C Paswan (LJP). A TDP member would also join the team.

The decision to send a delegation was taken at an all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on August 6.

The Samiti has also announced extension of its agitation till August 14. The decision to extend the shutdown was taken at a meeting of over 250 members of the group presided over by Brigadier (Retd.) Suchet Singh at Geeta Bhavan in Jammu on Friday.

The shutdown was extended with a view to point out to the Central and State Governments that people in Jammu want to take the movement to a logical conclusion -- cancellation of the revoked order on land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, said another Samiti member and the president of the Bar association of Jammu D S Salathia.

Salathia alleged that authorities were trying to supress the Samiti's movement by deploying the Army.

It may be recalled that the Army has deployed around 10,000 extra soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir to keep the situation under control on Thursday.

ANI

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