No Land Was Taken Or Returned: Vohra

13 July 2008

Srinagar: In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir NN Vohra talks about the recent Amarnath land controversy. Q. What was the logic of giving back the land to the state government? A. First of all, I think it's necessary to understand, no land was taken neither any land returned. I want to make it very clear no land has been returned, no land was in possession on the given day. The board has sought categorical assurance from the state government that all logistical developments, infrastructural support which will be required by the yatra in the years to come will be provided. The board will continue to discharge its legal functions. Q. Sir, some also have the impression that the decisions were politically motivated? A. In a democracy, politics plays its role, there is nothing motivated. There was certain background before I came here, I don't want to go into why it happened. We have given assurance of the state government that they will continue to provide us land, make buildings for us, facilities that we require. The board is strengthened by this decision and we will continue to do our job in the board. Q.Does this also mean that the first decision was not justified? That shrine board will be having the land? A. I don't want to go into that whether the land was really required and so on and so forth. It is the state government owned land, forest owned land, and the board is allowed to utilize it for a period it requires and provide the facilities that need to be provided to the yatris. I see no difficulty at all and I see no controversy. Q.Unfortunately, this controversy has also polarized Jammu Kashmir state. There is a view in Jammu, a different view in the valley, this is happening perhaps for the first time in 60 years? A.There have been problems in the past in Jammu & Kashmir. I am a little pained, little concerned, the people of Jammu are martial races, they have served the countries for ages. It's distressing that doubts are created about the role of the board and about the future of the yatra. All I can tell you is that we are willing to come forward and discuss these matters. I had given a time to the delegation to come. Unfortunately, they chose not to come. Q. Some also said that perhaps they will raise the level of agitation, they will show black flags, and all that, what do you have to say to these people? A. I have nothing to say about raising the level of agitation. I have already said in a press communique, which was issued on the day the government decided this thing. I am planning to set up a consultative board of all faiths, of all religions, particularly the people in Jammu, responsible, respectable people to advice us, what should be done in the years to come. Q. They also had a doubt about the Mata Vasihno Devi Shrine board.... A.Mata Vaihno Devi shrine board doesn't come in the picture at all, it's a very powerful arrangement. It's a very good act and the board is functioning very well indeed. We have several important members of the board from amongst the public at large and I do not see how anybody can bring in the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Affairs into this controversy. I will strongly disapprove of any such move because things are going on very well and we have plans of doing many more things. In fact, we had a meeting of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board in Srinagar the other day, we have good resources and we have good technical expertise, we find that the entry point to the shrine is Katra and Katra now cannot take such large numbers of yatris. So we plan to undertake very large scale development in Katra. Q. Also, sir after you became the Governor, some quarters have expressed a doubt that may be elections will be postponed or there will be some delay? A. I don't want to get into that at this stage, there is absolutely no basis for such thinking. It's all speculation. I would denounce that very clearly.