For ‘azadi’ remarks, Congress puts minister on notice

Saturday, December 11, 2010

JAMMU - The Congress is reported to have issued a show cause notice to Jammu and Kashmir Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma who stirred up a controversy with his remarks supporting independence for Kashmir, party source said Saturday.

The minister who belongs to the Congress, however, was not reachable for his comments on whether he had received the notice.

According to sources, the show cause notice was issued to the minister Friday. He has been asked to explain his Dec 5 remarks and the context in which those were made.

Sharma, speaking at a party rally in a hilly and remote area of Bani in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, said that the “people in the Valley want azadi, let them be given azadi; Ladakh should get the union territory status and Jammu statehood.”

Congress sources said that the party leadership, in the notice, also demanded to know from the minister as to why he issued a statement two days after the rally and sought to justify his “azadi” remarks.

The minister defended himself in the statement, saying that he was just replying to the frequent jibes by National Conference (NC) leader Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s uncle.

State Congress committee president Saif-ud-Din Soz has opted for silence on the issue.

Sharma had addressed the Dec 5 rally in the presence of Soz.

Abdullah Wednesday hinted at action against Sharma for his remarks. “The statement of Sham Lal Sharma is being examined by appropriate quarters, not only the statement but also its context,” he said.

Sharma’s statement has generated a lot of heat within the ruling NC-Congress coalition.

A NC spokesperson Wednesday termed Sharma’s statements “unfortunate and uncalled for” and asked him to “restrain himself”.

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