There was no end to high drama surrounding the arrest of Shabir Ahmad Khan, former state health minister who is facing sexual assault accusation by a female doctor, on Wednesday. Despite the court asking him to surrender in the next 24 hours he remains elusive.
Justice Janak Raj Kotwal, who heard the much-awaited bail plea of the ex-minister on Wednesday afternoon, asked the accused "to make himself present before the investigating officer of the police".
Last week, a Jammu court had rejected the bail plea of the accused on the grounds that the molestation case against him was registered in Srinagar. The court also held that the accused if arrested could seek interim bail against a personal bond of `25,000.
The power to release the accused on interim bail will lie with the investigating officer, who needs the accused to complete the investigation process. The court also directed that Khan cannot leave Srinagar without the permission of the investigating agency and cannot leave the state without the court's permission.
The court has fixed Tuesday (February 18) as the next date of hearing for the bail application.
Khan is on the run since a female doctor lodged an FIR in Srinagar on February 7, accusing the minister of inviting her to the civil secretariat and making indecent remarks and sexual advances.
Ironically, the police did withdraw Khan's security in Jammu in the next two days but failed to detain him.
For five days now, the former minister is on the run. The police had to take the route of state assembly's speaker Mubarak Gul to uphold the arrest warrants issued by the chief judicial magistrate in Srinagar against Khan, who had to resign in the face of growing protests in the state.
The police said they have already issued lookout notices across the state and alerted the airports to foil any attempt of the accused Congress leader to leave the state.
Meanwhile, doctors are up in arms in the Valley over the police inability in arresting Khan. "We will firmly stand behind our colleague till justice is delivered. It seems that the ex-minister has been provided a hideout by the government, otherwise a man living under security cover cannot give a slip to the police so easily," alleged a spokesman of joint body of medical employees, including doctors.
The medical employees and doctors in the Valley have threatened to take to the streets to press for justice in the case. Protests were also held on Wednesday at several hospitals.
"If the culprit is not arrested immediately, the amalgam of medical employees will expedite the ongoing agitation by closing health offices and hospitals, excluding emergency services, from 1pm on Thursday," said the spokesman.