BJP threatens nationwide protest over Shrine land

via IANS published on June 29, 2008


NEW DELHI/RANCHI: The main opposition
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday threatened to launch a
nationwide protest against the Jammu and Kashmir government’s move to
retain with itself the 40 hectares of land it had given to the Amarnath
Shrine authorities.

BJP president Rajnath Singh in Ranchi said
his party would go for a nationwide agitation if the land were taken
back from the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

The party’s
national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the central government
should rush in adequate paramilitary forces to control the situation in
the state.

“There is a need to send a strong message to the
separatist and anti-national forces to save the sovereignty of India
and autonomy of the SASB. Any surrender on this issue would only spark
off nationwide protests,” Naqvi said in a statement in New Delhi.

“The
decision to revoke the transfer of the land to the SASB will be
tantamount to an absolute surrender before separatist and terrorist
forces and compromising national unity, integrity and sovereignty,” he
said.

The state has been witnessing violent protests ever since
the government decided to give 40 hectares of forest land to the SASB
to provide facilities for Amarnath pilgrims.

Many parties and
Muslim organisations fear the board would make permanent structures on
the land. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), an ally of the ruling
Congress, withdrew from the government Saturday, creating a crisis.

“The
transfer of land to the temple board is a golden opportunity to provide
a healing touch to the minority Hindu community in the state. It will
help build bridges of harmony and understanding between the people of
Kashmir and the rest of the state and the country,” Naqvi said.

The
Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP demanded immediate removal of
Governor N N Vohra, alleging that he acted as an “agent of the
Congress” in handing back 40 hectares of forest land from the SASB.

The party has given a call for Jammu shutdown Monday.

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