Rohit Kumar's Views

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If Kashmiris want ‘azadi’ give it to them: minister

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The remarks of Sham Lal Sharma, a senior Congress minister in Omar Abdullah cabinet – who has reportedly advocated “azadi” for the Valley and trifurcation of the state – has put the state and the central governments in an embarrassing situation.

Sharma’s remarks have invited criticism from not only the opposition BJP, but his own party and cabinet colleagues as well. “If Kashmiris want Azadi, give it to them. But make Jammu a separate state and give UT status to Ladakh,” said Health Minister Sharma said at a rally in Bani, 200 kms from Jammu, on Sunday, much to the discomfort of senior party leaders, including MP Saifuddin Soz, who were sitting on the dias. While there are voices for ‘azadi’ in Kashmir, people in Jammu and Ladakh complain of discrimination in all spheres, Sharma said, adding that “this was the only solution if you (Centre) want real development of the state”.”Kashmiris take away major share of funds allocated by the Centre. On the other hand, those who get discriminated remain silent,” he said. Such a situation cannot be tolerated for long, he pointed out. BJP leaders Nirmal Singh and Ashok Khajuria described the minister’s public statement as treason and demanded his immediate arrest and dismissal from the state cabinet.

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