State Cong backs J&K leader who supported ‘azadi’

Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress today rallied behind state Health Minister Shaym Lal Sharma, embroiled in a controversy over his purported remarks on granting `azadi` to Kashmir.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress
today rallied behind state Health Minister Shaym Lal Sharma,
embroiled in a controversy over his purported remarks on
granting `azadi` to Kashmir, notwithstanding slapping of a
show-cause notice on him by Congress disciplinary committee.

Describing Sharma as a "bold voice" within the state
cabinet of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, JKPCC Vice President
and spokesperson Mohammed Muzaffar Parray sought to downplay
his remarks, saying he had been quoted out of context.
On December five, Sharma, at a public meeting at Bani in
Jammu region, had said Kashmir should be granted `azadi` while
Jammu should get statehood and Ladakh should be declared a
Union Territory. The comment was broadcast on local television
channels and what became more embarrassing for ruling Congress
was the presence of JKPCC chief Saif-ud-din Soz at the dais
when the statement was made in local `dogri` language.

"He (Sharma) actually wanted to alert the (Congress)
party rank and file against some detractors," Parray told PTI,
adding that, "Sharma was a bold voice of the party in state
cabinet."

Parray said the remarks of the Minister were in response
to the inflammatory statements made by some leaders of
National Conference, the coalition partner of Congress in the
state, against their party.

"Whatsoever has been attributed to him by various
newspapers for having advocated trifurcation of the state is
not correct as same has been quoted out of context," Parray,
considered to be a close aide of Soz, said.

This is the first statement that came from the Congress
unit in the state after a show-cause notice was issued to
Sharma on December 11 asking him to explain his conduct.

The Congress has asked Sharma to explain his statement
made at the rally which was in contravention of the stated
position of the policy of the party and the government about
the state being an integral part of the country, party sources
had said in New Delhi.

His statement gave a handle to separatists and foreign
elements inimical to the country and it was unbecoming of him
to make such remarks, they said.

The notice has been given by central disciplinary action
panel of the party headed by senior leader A K Antony and he
has been asked to reply within seven days.

-PTI

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