Srinagar/Jammu, August 10 : An all party delegation led by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday to resolve the dispute over the land transfer row.
The controversy over the issue of land for a Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has polarized Kashmir, split between the Muslim-majority Kashmir and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu.
Addressing a news conference, Patil announced compensation to the victims who have died in the violence in both Kashmir and Jammu regions.
"People have suffered injuries during the agitation and some people have lost their lives. About seven people have lost lives in both Jammu and Kashmir in the violence. Both state and central government will give them compensation," Patil said.
Patil added that the communal harmony in the state would not be allowed to be disturbed.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, People's Democratic Party's (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti and Congress party leaders Saifuddin Soz and Mohsina Kidwai besides local Kashmiri leaders attended the meeting with the delegation members.
"The sad part is that since elections are coming near, so political parties have found a way to further aggravate the entire situation," Abdullah told reporters.
The meeting comes a day after leaders of Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS), spearheading the agitation in Jammu, held their first round of talks with an all party delegation headed by Patil.
No headway was made as the members of the SASS stuck to their demand for restoration of land to Amarnath shrine board and removal of Governor N. N. Vohra.
The unrest, which has gripped the Jammu region for the past five weeks over the issue of land for SASB has taken a toll on everything in Srinagar as well.
Constant shutdowns, highway blockade and curfews in the state have affected the business and normal life in the region.
The Central authorities warned that any attempt at economic blocade of Kashmir valley would be severely dealt with.
"There is no economic blockade. And if at all there are a few some cases then we are taking it seriously. I am in conversation with Punjab Chief Minister Badal (Parkash Singh) and also constantly in touch with home minister, we will seriously look into the matter if any problem arises. Fruit traders will not face any problem. I have appealed to people that they should not be scared and should continue with their work. And if we get any complaint we will look into the matter," said Saifuddin Soz, Union Minister Ofater Resources.
However, leader of PDP which started the agitation in Kashmir for revoking the land transfer order said that before solving the shrine land issue, peace should be restored and blocked roads should reopened.
"We have said that it's a long term issue this cannot be addressed immediately, it will be resolved in long-term only. But firstly peace should prevail here. The situation is aggravated and the communal and regional divisions have been sharpened, such situation should be controlled. Victims of violence should be given compensation, fruit traders should be protected and closed road should be reopened at any cost," said Nizamuddin, PDP leader.
Meanwhile curfew in Hindu-dominated Jammu city was relaxed for five hours on Sunday morning. But miseries of residents persist as the most of the shops remained closed and acute shortage of essential commodities continued.
"Even after curfew relaxation shops in the market are mostly closed. Nobody is getting anything. Daily necessities like food, medicines are also not available. There is no wheat and rice at the departmental stores. There is no water and electricity. In spite of all these problems, government says that they have relaxed the curfew. This is absolutely wrong," said Ajit Kumar, a resident.
The land row has sparked some of Kashmir's worst polarization on religious lines since a separatist Muslim revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989. At least eight people have died and hundreds have been injured in protests.
The dispute began after the Kashmir government had promised to give forestland to the trust that runs Amarnath shrine. Many Muslims were enraged.
The government then backed down on its decision enraging many Hindus in turn who have launched a mass agitation in Jammu region for the past five weeks.
The authorities have imposed curfew in many parts of Jammu region to control the situation.