Muslim Anger Over Kashmir Deal

September 1, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: BBC News

The Indian authorities are maintaining a curfew in the mainly Muslim Kashmir valley after a controversial land decision over a Hindu pilgrimage.

Some 100 acres of land are to be set aside for use by a Hindu trust during an annual Hindu pilgrimage.

Muslims have expressed anger over the move, with some defying the curfew after Sunday's decision was announced.

But Hindus have welcomed the move and called off their protests in the long-running dispute.

Meanwhile a senior separatist leader, Shabir Shah, faces up to two years in prison without trial after being charged with activities prejudicial to the security of India.


The dispute over the pilgrimage land began in May when the state government said 99 acres (40 hectares) of state-controlled land would be given to the Amarnath Shrine Trust, a group that safeguards the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave, one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism.

The move unleashed anger among Kashmir Muslims and since June there has been a re-emergence of mass demonstrations calling for independence from India.

Not long after the Muslim protests started, the state government abandoned the land transfer. That resulted in Hindus concentrated in the Jammu region of the state taking to the streets and blockading the main supply routes to Srinagar.

Some 40 people have been killed in the protests, most of them Muslim.

Sunday's agreement means that the Amarnath Shrine Trust will now have exclusive use of the land for the duration of the pilgrimage.