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Tainted ex-minister in Kashmir on the run?

Posted on Feb 11 2014 | IANS

By Sheikh Qayoom, Srinagar, Feb 11 : The hunt for a disgraced former Jammu and Kashmir minister accused of sexual assault has become a joke of sorts.

Shabir Ahmad Khan, who resigned from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's cabinet after a public outcry, is reportedly missing.

What is curious is that also missing with him are security personnel provided by the Jammu and Kashmir Police to guard him.

Ironically, even while it says it is looking for the former minister, the police say they have no clue where Khan's police guards are.

The accused is a Congress member of the 87-seat legislature representing Rajouri.

All kinds of questions are being asked in the Kashmir Valley and beyond.

Has Khan gone underground along with his armed guards? Are the armed guards deployed to provide security to the ex-minister also wanted by the police as accomplices?

In any case, where is the minister and where are the guards?

Although police officials say that none of the ex-minister's guards are absconding, the fact that other policemen are still posted at his official residence in Jammu and ancestral home in Rajouri has caused widespread disgust.

There are doubts if police are really hunting for Khan despite warrants issued by the chief judicial magistrate in Srinagar.

Police have approached the assembly speaker so as to arrest Khan.

Since the assembly is in session, the speaker's nod is needed to arrest the missing legislator.

It was a lady doctor, now widely known as a 'brave heart doctor', who lodged a complaint against Khan, then a minister, at the Shaheed Gunj police station after the chief judicial magistrate's green signal.

The First Information Report was lodged under sections 509 and 354 of the penal code. If proved, the ex-minister can be jailed for two years.

The doctor alleged she repeatedly went to the police station since Jan 28, the day she said the minister tried to sexually assault her. But the police tried to avoid registering a complaint.

She has also filed a complaint with police against the Congress MP Chowdhary Lal Singh, some newspaper editors and journalists for allegedly trying to politicize the matter by disclosing her identity.

But in a bizarre development, the Doctors Association of Kashmir that had been holding protests demanding Khan's arrest Monday released a statement from the victim with her signature, name and address!

Both the separatists and mainstream politicians are trying to outdo each other over the alleged sexual assault.

The separatists say the incident is "simply a link in the continuing abuse of power by Indian agents in Kashmir".

The mainstream opposition politicians are blaming the ruling Congress-National Conference coalition for poor governance.

The ruling alliance says it lost no time to act against Khan.

Meanwhile, Khan -- who was told by the Congress to quit the cabinet until he clears his name -- has filed for anticipatory bail in the high court.

But as of now, the Congress politician is missing.

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