Centre Against Revoking Order

30 June 2008
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: The Centre did not want J&K Chief Minister Gulam Nabi Azad to revoke formal orders transferring the 100 acre plot of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board due to fears that the Congress-led coalition in the state and outside would have to pay a heavy political price. The Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party has decided to demand revocation of the order because it is conscious of the fact that the Azad government cannot afford to do this and alienate the majority community, said a government functionary tasked with keeping a close watch on developments in J&K. And the fact that the BJP like the separatists and the political parties in Kashmir had already adopted a hard line does not make the task any easier. “The best course would have been to rescind the order since that would have entirely robbed the entire spectrum of the separatist elements of an issue… But if this is done, opposition parties like the BJP elsewhere in the country would take over the issue and accuse the government of minority appeasement,” the functionary said. In this context, a Union Home Ministry official pointed to reports that the BJP had already been criticising the Azad government for getting the shrine board to relinquish control over the forested land. Normal life was affected in Jammu on Monday due to a bandh call by the saffron party. But there were reports from Srinagar late in the evening that the Azad government may finally decide to bite the bullet and put up a proposal rescinding the order before the Cabinet, irrespective of the political costs that it would entail. A PTI report from Srinagar said the J&K government was likely to revoke the controversial transfer of land to the shrine board on Tuesday. The chief minister has convened a cabinet meeting that day during which action will be taken on Governor NN Vohra’s letter in which he has given up the board claim on the forest land.