Jammu, Sep 1: Streets are filled with people, shops are open as Jammu broke into wild celebrations after Centre agreed on Sunday, Aug 31 to set aside 39.88 hectares of land for exclusive use by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). The two-month long agitation comes to an happy end to Jammu people.
“This is a victory for the people of Jammu", SASS spokesman said. But at the cost of hectic wheeling and dealing between four-member SASS team led by Brig (retd) Suchit Singh and a four-member government panel headed by the governor's advisor Sudhir Singh Bloeria. According to the agreement, the state government will set aside land at Baltal and Domail comprising 800 kanal for exclusive use by SASB for the purpose of yatra. The proprietary status of the land, however, shall not undergo any change.
The most important aspect of the agreement is that it upholds the right of SASB to organise the Amarnath pilgrimage and make arrangements for it on both routes under the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Act, 2000.
Immediately after the announcement, the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti, spearheading the agitation in Jammu, suspended its campaign. In Kashmir Valley, the reaction was mixed. While PDP and Hurriyat Conference rejected the deal, National Conference gave it a thumbs-up. A statement issued by SASS president Leela Karan Sharma and Bloeria after the pact read, “The yatris have been welcomed with open arms by the people of both Jammu and Kashmir. Sadly, certain decisions of the state government relating to the yatra created misunderstandings, which led to the agitation and loss of many precious lives."
The agreement appears to have been reached in spite of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti's defiant posturing. Though the solution was late in coming, it was an amicable one. It does show UPA's desperation in solving another fullblown crisis which could have impacted Lok Sabha polls.