Jammu and Kashmir CM calls on Governor over forest land issue

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Srinagar, June 29 : A day after the People's Democratic Party pulled out of the ruling coalition, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is calling on Governor N.N.Vohra at the Raj Bhavan to discuss the issue of transfer of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

State Congress President Saif-ud-din Soz is also present at the meeting.

Azad may also visit Delhi to talk to Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the issue, sources said.

Azad, on Saturday, had said that the State government could provide all facilities to the pilgrims, including their lodging and travel in response to the Raj Bhavan statement which sought to know if the State government could cater to the need of the Amarnath pilgrims and ensure a smooth and safe pilgrimage.

On Saturday, the Congress-led Jammu and Kashmir government reduced to minority when its alliance partner PDP opted to withdraw its support following the controversial forest land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

"There was a lot of trouble going on over the issue of land transfer to the shrine board. We could not wait till the June 30 deadline," PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said on Saturday.

"In view of the ever deepening crisis, it is our moral duty to disassociate from the government," she said.

"We have pulled out of the government and submitted a letter to the Governor in this regard," Mehbooba said.

The PDP has 18 MLAs in the 87-member State Assembly while Congress has 21 members. The ruling coalition has the support of eight independent MLAs and two CPM legislators.

The PDP's withdrawal from the ruling coalition follows intense protests in different parts of the State for about a week, demanding revocation of a government order transferring 39.88 hectares of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board.

Although Governor N. N. Vohra has not taken any decision on the latest developments so far, there is a speculation that he might impose Governor's rule or appoint a caretaker government in the State as Assembly Elections are less than four months away.

The coalition came together under a power sharing agreement after 2002 Assembly polls when no political party managed to get a clear mandate.

ANI

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