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Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 15:41 UK

Views on Kashmir land row

Mainly-Muslim Indian-controlled Kashmir has been at a standstill after days of protests over the transfer of land for a Hindu pilgrimage site.

Protesters say the land transfer is an attempt to change the demographic balance of the area.

People in Srinagar give their views on the situation and describe the impact of the protests.


ASIF HAMEED, DOCTOR, SRINAGAR

Protest in Kashmir against land transfer
Protests argue that the authorities are trying to change local demography
I was out early morning and the protests were still going on. People were pelting stones onto civilian vehicles.

Only when the police came to disperse the crowd could I pass by. I even saw an ambulance with broken windowpanes, which was really sad.

The issue of the land-transfer is not the real issue as far as people protesting are concerned. People have pent-up emotion and anger which takes advantage of any situation which arises.

Nothing is happening on the ground. We haven't seen troop reductions, we haven't seen development. So we see protests.

People feel the government are trying to effect a demographic change by settling Hindu people in locations where there shouldn't be any construction at all.

I also feel there is something greater behind this than a simple land transfer. The government is trying to dilute the identity of Kashmiris.

India never trusts Kashmir. How can they make sure that they have sufficient control of the people? They can only do that when they have a population they can trust.

They feel we cannot be trusted. Outside of Kashmir, I am perceived as a terrorist, a fundamentalist, simply because I am Kashmiri.

BHUPENDER, JANWAL, SRINAGAR

The shops are all closed today. The main city is completely deserted. I feel the situation is going to be even more tense tomorrow.

Today there was a lot of stone-casting and the police had to use tear gas.

I feel that innocent people have been completely misled by the vested interests of the politicians. Elections are drawing near and I believe those who want to strengthen their hold in Srinagar are whipping up this issue.

It is a chance for those with vested interests to strengthen their respective vote banks.

I feel that so far as no permanent structures are erected this land deal could be a viable arrangement for everybody. The structures for pilgrims to use should be makeshift and should only be there for as long as the pilgrims are there.

This could even end up helping Kashmiris in terms of business. It could bring revenue. That realisation could defuse this situation.

But all parties need to be united. Kashmir was on the path of progress. The foundations of peace being built could now be destroyed if this conflict doesn't end.

HAKEEM IRFAN, JOURNALIST, SRINAGAR
Srinagar is boiling.

An Indian Hindu Pilgrim is carried to the Amaranth caves - 2001 AP picture
Amarnath cave is considered one of the holiest shrines of the Hindu faith
The protests are continuing here. Indeed, they have swelled up in many places. Tourists are inside their hotels and we are getting reports that the pilgrimage has temporarily halted because there are so many protests going on the main route to the holy site.

There is fighting, tear gas, baton charges and other things you see in a conflict.

People think this deal is illegal and they think the governor has transferred land just out of a sense of power - even though they believe it has no legal basis.

Their arrogance has turned into a people's movement. On every nook and corner of the streets people have come from suburbs and villages.

People fear that India is trying to change the local demography and are trying to settle people here. They fear cultural imperialism.

People feel India is waging war on so many fronts. Military war, cultural war. This latest move is seen as an onslaught on the geography of Jammu and Kashmir.

MEHBOOB JEELANI, SRINAGAR

There is a strong protest going on now in Kashmir. The government has transferred land to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board.

Now the situation is worsening every day. There is chaos and confusion everywhere
This is forest land - it is not entitled to be given to anybody. It endangers the wildlife and beauty of the place and that is important in a tourist destination such as Kashmir known for its beauty.

We believe the shrine board will erect concrete huts so the impact could be serious.

By doing this, the government is politicising the pilgrimage. This holy site was discovered by Kashmiri Muslims and for the past 150 years Kashmiris have welcomed the pilgrims and accompanied them to the shrine.

At a time when Kashmiris feel insecure, this move by the government makes people feel they are trying to change the demography of the state.

Now the situation is worsening everyday. There is chaos and confusion everywhere.

All people want is a revocation of the land transfer. India should accept the popular demand of the people.

I would say the whole of Kashmir has come out onto the streets.



SEE ALSO
Land protests shut down Kashmir
26 Jun 08 |  South Asia
Police stop Hindu pilgrim march
01 Jul 04 |  South Asia
The pilgrimage to Amarnath
06 Aug 02 |  South Asia


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