Wife of Jammu agitation ‘martyr’ joins BJP

October 23rd, 2008 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Amarnath ShrineJammu, Oct 23 (IANS) Shilpi Verma, whose husband committed suicide to demand restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board in July and was hailed as the “first martyr” of the agitation, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday. Shilpi, in her late 20s, announced her joining the party at a press conference organised by the BJP at a luxury hotel.

State BJP unit chief Ashok Khajuria said that Shilpi would be “campaigning for the party in the forthcoming assembly elections. She will be our star campaigner,” he said.

The BJP is hoping to improve its tally from one seat in the dissolved house of 87. The party will be fielding around 30 candidates, mostly in Hindu dominated areas. The party is hoping to cash on the emotional chord that the people had struck with the family of Kuldip Verma who committed suicide on July 23 saying that he was making this “sacrifice for the cause of the restoration of land to shrine board.”

There was a huge controversy over the way the body of Verma was cremated with kerosene and the usual Hindu rituals disallowed by police. That had angered the masses and his death combined with the charges of disrespect to the body fuelled the agitation and gave it a violent turn. The agitation lasted till Aug 31, when the government conceded the demand of the agitators and restored the land to the shrine board.

Twelve people were killed during the over two-month long agitation that had begun on July 1. Party leaders said they would welcome the families of other “martyrs” too to the party fold.

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