Azad: Pak, Saudi Funds Used In Amarnath Stir

13 July 2008
Times of India

Srinagar: In his first public address after stepping down, former Jammu &Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday accused Pakistan and Saudi Arabia of bankrolling the agitation against the forest land transfer to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB). 'Interested parties got money from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to sustain the violent agitation against Amarnath land transfer in the Valley for 10 days,' Azad said while addressing a rally at Akhnoor near Jammu. Maintaining that the entire population wasn't involved in the agitation, Azad said people in the Valley were angry as they thought Kashmir lagged behind Jammu in development. 'They couldn't digest this and started an agitation to remove the government that was working for the equal development of all regions,' he said. Azad said the issue was blown out of proportion by the forces, who were worried about the pace of development under his government in the last two-and-a-half years. 'Government's good performance made political parties sleepless as they had no issues for the upcoming polls. So they made land transfer an issue and incited religious and regional passions,' he said. Sources said Azad's statement was an attempt to cool tempers in Jammu, which came to a standstill following protests against the government's decision to revoke the land transfer to SASB. They said the Congress was trying to salvage its support base in Jammu after the saffron parties mounted a serious challenge on it in the aftermath of the land row. The protesters in Jammu have directed their anger at the Congress. 'The Congress, which emerged as the major political force in the region after the 2002 assembly elections, is worried about its relevance in Jammu. The Congress is worried that it may not do well in Jammu in the upcoming elections as it has been painted as a villain in the land transfer episode,' sources said.