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Indian Kashmir Gov't Reverses Decision to Transfer Land to Hindus; Protests Continue

  • VOA News

Government officials in Indian Kashmir have reversed their controversial decision to transfer land to a Hindu religious trust, after nine days of violent protests in the majority-Muslim region left at least five people dead.

Members of the Jammu-Kashmir state cabinet formally canceled the transfer of 40 hectares of land to Hindu pilgrims during a meeting in Srinagar Tuesday.

The government move was aimed at cooling tensions. But Muslims activists, who say the land transfer was a conspiracy to change the region's demographics, continued to demonstrate in Srinagar.

Hindu nationalists in Jammu, a predominantly Hindu city, accused state leaders of betrayal and clashed with police, forcing shops, businesses and schools to close for a second day.

India's main opposition, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, vowed to continue protesting in the region and warned that the protests could spread nationally.


The state's decision came as authorities placed several top separatist leaders under house arrest to deter further protests.

The Himalayan region is special to Indian Hindus because it houses a cave holding a massive ice stalagmite revered as a symbol of the Hindu god Lord Shiva.

Thousands of Hindu pilgrims trek to the Amarnath shrine every year and the pilgrimage route has been attacked frequently by Muslim separatists.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both. Islamic separatist groups have been fighting for independence from India or a merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in insurgency-related violence.

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