Pakistan, Saudi Arabia bankrolled Amarnath agitation: Azad

July 13th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Akhnoor (Jammu and Kashmir), July 13 (IANS) In his first public appearance in this border town, former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Sunday accused Pakistan and Saudi Arabia of bankrolling the parties behind the violent agitation on the Amarnath land row. Lashing out at all the groups that made an “issue” of the allotment of the land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and subsequent cancellation of the same, Azad said: “Less than one percent of the population of the state was involved in these agitations, which were being carried out with money provided by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

Azad was addressing a public meeting here, first since the fall of his government July 7, when he quit office and refused to face a trust vote in the state legislative assembly.

The Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley was rocked by violent protests after the former Congress-led government transferred 40 hectares of forest land in south Kashmir to the SASB, the temple trust of the Himalayan Amarnath cave shrine.

The order was later revoked July 1, which triggered violent demonstrations in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

The issue also sparked political crisis in the state after coalition partner, the Peoples Democratic Party, withdrew its support from the Azad government.

“The whole issue was blown out of proportion by these forces, worried over the pace of development carried out by my government in the last less than two and a half years,” Azad told the gathering.

“This made them sleepless. They had no issue to go to polls, so they made land to the shrine board an issue and incited religious and regional passions of the people.”

Azad said the people in the Kashmir Valley were also agitated because they felt that the Jammu region was getting more attention for development. “They could not digest this and started an agitation to remove the government that was working for the equal development of all regions.”

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