Land row: Jammu agitation draws support from Congress (Lead)

August 2nd, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Jammu, Aug 2 (IANS) A prominent Congress leader and younger brother of a party MP Saturday announced his support to the agitation for the allocation of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), as two former ministers demanded removal of Governor N.N. Vohra from the state. Sham Lal Sharma, who was Congress lawmaker in the dissolved assembly and brother of Madan Lal Sharma, who represents Jammu-Poonch constituency in Lok Sabha, visited the office of Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti and pledged his support to the organisation for its struggle to get the land allotted to the SASB once more.

“I will continue to be a worker of the Congress. Yet for the sake of the people of Jammu I have decided to support the agitation,” Sharma told reporters.

The Sharma brothers are popular in the border belt of Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts.

The announcement came after two former ministers and Congress lawmakers Raman Bhalla and Yogesh Sawhney demanded the recall of Governor N.N. Vohra.

Bhalla alleged Vohra had failed to instil confidence among the people and that the situation had deteriorated under his rule.

Jammu and Kashmir is under governor’s rule since July 9 when Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was heading the Congress-led coalition government, resigned from the post of chief minister.

Azad was forced to step down after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a key ally, withdrew its support over the controversial land allocation, which was later revoked.

Bhalla was the first prominent Congress leader to have voiced a demand for Vohra’s recall followed by Sawhney.

The demand is on top of the agenda of the Bharatiya Janta Party and AYSS, spearheading the Jammu agitation for the allocation of the land.

Some Hindu groups have turned hostile to Vohra for they believe that it was his June 29 letter saying that the shrine board didn’t need the piece of land if the state government could make arrangements for Amarnath pilgrimage which resulted in the revocation of the land transfer order.

Meanwhile, National Conference leader Shamsher Singh, who is also a corporator in Jammu Municipal Corporation, has quit the party and declared his support for the Jammu agitation.

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