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'Jammu is treated like a pariah, because we are patriots'

August 27, 2008
The agitation in Jammu over revocation of the allotment of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has taken an unprecedented turn. The only similar mass upsurge was during the Praja Parishad movement in 1952 to end the two dual constitutional provisions (thanks to Article 370) in Jammu and Kashmir that allowed two flags, a separate head of the state and separate laws.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has been supporting the agitation and the Congress's local leaders too have expressed their support for fear of losing Hindu votes. The agitation has seen small children with their mothers and grandmothers coming out on the roads with the tricolour in their hands and demanding that the land be given back to the SASB.

Leela Karan Sharma, 68, a senior advocate of the Jammu and Kashmir high court for 41 years, has been active in every Hindu religious organisation including the Dogra Brahmin Pratinidhi Sabha as its vice-president. He emerged on the national stage as president of the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti, which is leading the mass movement in Jammu for the last two months. His day begins at 6 in the morning and ends past midnight.

The agitation, which took shape on a modest note on June 29, has taken an expanse none had imagined. Can he control the tiger he is riding? Has it contributed more to divide society on communal lines? He spoke exclusively to Tarun Vijay, director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

Image: Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti President Leela Karan Sharma

Also see: In Jammu, a tangled tale is written in blood

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