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Army's fear: terrorists on prowl as J&K burns

Aug 08, 2008 02:33 PM IST India India

Jammu/ New Delhi: The border town of Samba in Jammu was put under curfew on Friday and the Army called in after clashes between two groups over the Amarnath shrine land grant issue.

IANS reports people clashed on the streets in Samba on Thursday night and held rival demonstrations over the issue of land allotment to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and its revocation, leading to clashes.

Poonch is among the seven major towns in Jammu region where an agitation is on for the last five weeks for allocation of a plot in the Kashmir valley to the SASB.

Curfew restrictions are already on in the towns of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Bhaderwah.

Authorities put several separatist leaders under house arrest on Friday even as a complete shutdown crippled life in Srinagar.

Senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Shabir Ahmad Shah were put under house arrest by the authorities to prevent their proposed march to the headquarters of the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOG).

Another senior separatist leader and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik is in the intensive care unit of Soura Medical Institute here after his condition deteriorated Thursday morning. Doctors attending on him said his condition was now stable.

All markets, educational institutions, banks and public transport remained closed in Srinagar on Friday.

Army warning

The agitation in Jammu and Kashmir over the Amarnath land row could work to the advantage of terrorists in the state, a senior army commander warned in Srinagar on Friday.

"Our biggest fear is that terrorists could trigger blasts among the protesters and cause huge loss to the life and property of the people," Lt General Vinay Sharma, General Officer Commanding IX Corps, told newspersons in Jammu on Friday morning.

Sharma said the Army will have to support civil authority and minimum use of force will be inevitable if violence continues. Quoting intelligence reports, Sharma said August 15 would be a sensitive time in the state.

The state government's decision in May to allot about 40 hectares of forestland to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for pilgrim facilities led to violent protests in the valley. As the government revoked the order July 1, protests broke out in the Jammu region, threatening to divide the border state along communal lines.

An all-party delegation, led by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, will undertake a two-day visit to Jammu and Srinagar from Saturday in an attempt to end the land transfer row. The delegation would have about 12 leaders drawn from different political parties.

The Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti begins talks with the four-member panel constituted by Governor N N Vohra.

(With Inputs from IANS and PTI)