Azad government reduced to minority as PDP pulls out

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Srinagar, Jun 28 (UNI) Crisis gripped the Ghulam Nabi Azad government in Jammu and Kashmir today after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pulled out of the coalition, alleging that the interests of the people had been severely hurt by the controversial allotment of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

The Azad ministry, heavily dependent on the 16 MLAs of the PDP in the 87-member Assembly, was reduced to a minority. The Congress had won 20 seats in the last polls.

The PDP decision came in the backdrop of massive protests for the sixth day in the Kashmir valley against the transfer of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

''All of our ministers in the coalition government have sent their resignation letters to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,'' PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told reporters here this evening.

''We have also informed Governor N N Vohra about our decision to withdraw from the ministry and support to Congress-led government,''she said.

Ms Mufti said the PDP had given June 30 as the deadline to the government to revoke the land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

''However, we cannot remain insensitive to the killings and injuries and other sufferings to people, so we decided to pull out from the government,'' she said.

''We had requested the Chief Minister to withdraw the order immediately to save the situation,'' she said.

In reply to a question, she said the land allotment was a collective decision of the cabinet, including Chief Minister.

In the last state elections in 2002, the National Conference (NC) won only 27 seats in the 87-member assembly, as the Congress (20) and the PDP (16) joined hands to form the government.

Under the agreement between the two parties, PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was Chief Minister till November 2005 after which Mr Azad took over.

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