Omar hints at action against minister for ‘azadi’ remarks

December 8th, 2010 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Dec 8 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday hinted at action against the state Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma for his remarks supporting independence for Kashmir and full statehood for Jammu.

“The statement of Sham Lal Sharma is being examined by appropriate quarters, not only the statement but also its context,” he said on the sidelines of a function here.

Sharma, while speaking at a rally of the Congress party in Kathua district Sunday, said that the “people in the Valley want azadi, let them be given azadi; Ladakh should get union territory status and Jammu statehood”.

The minister made these remarks in the presence of president of the Congress’ state unit Saif-ud-Din Soz.

“After examining the statement, whatever follow up action would have to be taken, would be taken,” Abdullah said.

This is the first time Abdullah has spoken on the issue. It is also the first time that a minister in the government has advocated “azadi for Kashmir”.

Sham Lal Sharma’s statement has generated a lot of heat within the ruling National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition.

The minister defended himself late Tuesday, saying that he was just replying to the frequent jibes by NC leader Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, Abdullah’s uncle.

He also said that he stood for the “unity and integrity of the state” and added that “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”.

His statement was also a dig at Abdullah, who in his Oct 6 speech in the state assembly had said that Jammu and Kashmir had “acceded to India under unique circumstances and it had not merged with India”.

A NC spokesperson Wednesday termed Sharma’s statements “unfortunate and uncalled for” and asked him to “restrain himself”.

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