Chenab Valley, Pir Panchal Miffed6 December 2010
Jammu: Taking strong exception to the utterances of Sham Lal Sharma, the people of twin major 'sub-regions’ of Cehnab Valley and Pir Panchal on Monday said that they are mature enough to decide on their future and a handful of people sitting in Jammu have no mandate to decide their fate. Reacting sharply on the issue of discrimination with Jammu region, the people ridiculed the minister and invited him to Chenab Valley districts to see by himself the level of partiality they are being subjected to as against the other parts of the region, particularly Jammu. They said that continuous voices being raised for years seeking separate sub-regions for Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal areas bears the testimony that the people of these regions have lost faith in the so-called leaders in the winter capital who have only Jammu and its adjoining districts in mind when they talk of the region. Meanwhile, cutting across the party lines the elected representatives from the two sub-regions termed the statement of Congress minister as an ‘outburst’ made to match his voice with BJP and other extremist parties who are tossing up such issues just for public consumption. Responding to the remarks of Sham Lal, Congress MLA Ramban Ashok Kumar said that if he (Sham) is keen to raise such issues, the minister should highlight the discrimination which the Chenab Valley districts are being subjected to since so many years. He rejected the demand of trifurcation as his own opinion and said that the Congress party was strongly in favour of a united Jammu and Kashmir. MLA Banihal Vikar Rasool of Congress also expressed same views and said that his party is for a united Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh and any such demand by the minister cannot be attributed to the party. He said the discrimination about which Sham Lal Sharma has talking, is actually being meted to Chenab Valley for several years now. Similarly, local PDP leader Imtiaz Ahmed Khanda said that the utterances by the minister have exposed the Congress’s real face and it can be easily concluded that it also shares the mindset of BJP. People’s Democratic Party MLA from Dharal, Rajouri, Choudhary Zulfikar expressed surprise over the statement of Sham Lal Sharma and said “It is a very serious matter when a sitting cabinet minister is raising such a demand”. National Conference district and General Secretary Ramban, Sajjad Shaeen termed the utterances of Sham Lal as an ‘outburst’ for public consumption and to restore his party’s image in particular parts of the Jammu region. NC Legislators Rashpal Sharma and Ajaz Jan also rejected the demand of division of the state and said that their party was for a united Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladhakh region. CONFUSION IN CONGRESS, LEADERS NON-REACHABLE Minister for Health, Sham Lal Sharma’s statement on separate statehood for Jammu, Azadi for Kashmir and Union Territory for Ladakh has turned out to be a major source of discomfiture and uneasiness for the Congress leaders. Most of the Congress leaders had either switched off their mobile phones throughout day or preferred to avoid making any comment on the ‘controversial’ statement. The party leaders who were accessible also refused to make any statement on record by distancing themselves from the controversy. Some Congress leaders even preferred to avoid official and social functions to stay away from media glare. Sham’s remarks have generated a debate in political circles here with some of the Jammu based social and political groups welcoming him, while others terming it “political jugglery”.