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Karan Singh wants Governor recalled, SASB reconstituted

Karan Singh wants Governor recalled, SASB reconstituted

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 6, 2008

Echoing the voice of protesters on the streets of Jammu, veteran Congressman and party's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Karan Singh has sought the removal of Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra and reconstitution of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

Advancing a five-point package formula to resolve the unrest brewing in the State over cancellation of the land allotted to SASB, Karan Singh also called for extending the yatra duration to two months and temporary lease of land to SASB during the period.

A day ahead of the all-party meeting, and even as the Congress blamed the Sangh Parivar for the Jammu unrest and the Government groped for ways to resolve the stand-off, Singh's candid advocacy for Vohra's removal could result in major embarrassment for the UPA Government.

However, Singh clarified that he was making these proposals not in any party or partisan capacity, but because he had been associated with "this sacred yatra" for six decades and was still chairman-trustee of the Mahadev Gir Dashnami Akahara Trust where, near Badshah Bridge in Srinagar, the Chhari Mubarak (the Sacred Mace) of Lord Shiva resides under the care of a mahant.

In a two-page statement, Singh traced the genesis of the current controversy to the arrival of Governor Vohra. "I have high personal regard for (Shri) Vohra but under the circumstances I am obliged to suggest that he should be considered for some other State where his administrative experience and skills can be better utilised," Singh said. Singh has proposed that Vohra be replaced by Gen (retd) JJ Singh, who is currently the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. "Apart from his outstanding professional qualifications, he also happens to come from the State, with his family home in Doda district's Marwah area," he added.

As a second step for resolving the stand-off, Singh said that after the appointment of Gen Singh, SASB could be reconstituted under a new chairman, with members drawn from the Hindu community in the State, including Kashmiri Pandits. "As the board chairman, I suggest the name of Chief Justice (retd) AS Anand, who also belongs to J&K," Singh said.

Making a strong plea for providing better facilities during the yatra, Singh said the land should continue to remain with the forest department and the State Government should work out a time-bound programme for construction of shelters, cooking, sanitary and other arrangements for the pilgrims before next year's yatra. He said that in view of the tremendous increase in the number of the yatris, the pilgrimage should be extended to two months -- from July 1 to August 1. "During this period, the entire management of the pilgrim facilities as well as arrangements for the puja in the holy cave should be given to SASB. The land could be leased on a temporary basis to SASB for these two months," he said.

Calling for immediate lifting of the blockade of the National Highway in the "larger interests of the nation and its security", Singh demanded that the victims of police firing in J&K during this agitation be paid suitable compensation.

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