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Kashmir: Mass protests force government to reverse controversial land-transfer decision

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Greater Kashmir, a local newspaper, elaborated upon the separatist leader's motivations.

Mirwaiz termed the present struggle as peoples' movement. "The resentment of people is not only against land occupation, but also against cultural, political and army aggression of New Delhi in Kashmir. It is sentiment for Azadi (freedom) and New Delhi should without any further delay address the basic issue. Even if the land transfer order is revoked, sentiment of Azadi will remain," he added.

The government had originally said it would transfer 99 acres of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, which manages a Hindu shrine in the area, saying it was necessary to build huts and toilets for the many pilgrims that visit the area.

Each year, thousands of Hindus trek to a Kashmir cave, situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters (2.3 miles), which they believe is an abode of the god Shiva. Last year, 400,000 pilgrims visited the cave, staying in tents and prompting the government to find new ways to accommodate them.

The BBC reported the view of separatists who believe that the land transfer "was part of a 'conspiracy to settle non-local Hindus in the valley with a view to reducing the Muslims to a minority'."

The Hindu, an Indian daily, reported that the situation was a little calmer on Sunday after the authorities imposed a curfew in Srinagar. The police had used batons and tear gas against protesters, who had responded by throwing stones. But the report also hinted at more trouble to come.

As the authorities imposed "undeclared curfew" with stringent security measures, the level of protests came down but the Mirwaiz led a protest in downtown and demanded the revocation of the land order. He said a sea of people would throng the city on Tuesday in response to a "Srinagar Chalo" call by the Action Committee on Land Transfer (ACALT).
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