Agitation to continue until land is returned: SASS

via Pioneer published on August 18, 2008
Talking tough, Shri Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti (SASS) on Sunday said that it will continue with its agitation until a piece of land at Baltal is returned to the shrine board. Alleging that the Centre was adopting a biased stand on Jammu and Kashmir by following a policy of appeasement towards the valley, SASS convenor Leela Karan Sharma said, “The Central Government has been a mute spectator. It is following a wrong policy of division.” Sharma threatened to march to Baltal, where the piece of land is located, if the SASS’ demand of reverting it to the shrine board was not met. “We have many options to continue our protests. But we would better not disclose them,” he told reporters in New Delhi. When asked whether economic blockade was one of the options, Sharma said, “It could be. But right now there is no blockade. If we really do, the whole world will come to know.” Blaming Centre’s “wrong policies” for the present crisis in the State, he said that if the Government wanted to save the country from terrorism, it has to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Jammu. “Kashmir is the gateway of terrorism to India. If you want to save the country, you have to strengthen Jammu. We appeal to the people of India to stand behind the people of Jammu,” Sharma said. The Samiti objected to the handing over of the management of the Amarnath Yatra to the State Tourism Department saying that it has no locus standi to handle Hindu religious affairs. Sharma criticised leaders of PDP, National Conference, Governor NN Vohra and Central Government for “bowing down” before the separatists on the Amarnath issue. “Change Vohra as the Governor and it will help in building a congenial atmosphere in Jammu,” he said. Asked about the demand for opening of trade through the Muzaffarabad road, he said, “it was nothing but a blackmailing tactic of some of the Kashmiri leaders.” Sharma said that they were ready for talks to find an amicable solution to the present crisis. “We are not against dialogue,” he said by adding, “What we want is the piece of land at Baltal and there should be no interference in the affairs of Shrine Board,” he said. Asked whether there was any possibility of taking a “middle path” to resolve the issue, Sharma said, “If there is any, it should come from the Government. We are open for it.” He said that the SASS agitation was totally secular and people from all sects were participating it.

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