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The sex scandal that led Omar Abdullah to quit

india Updated: Jul 28, 2009 18:53 IST
The sex scandal that led Omar Abdullah to quit

It's a scandal that tainted the entire gamut of the Jammu and Kashmir establishment -- politicians, ministers, police and paramilitary officers as well as bureaucrats. On Tuesday, the 2006 sex scam resurfaced after the opposition linked the otherwise "Mr Clean" Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to the massive racket.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) allegation -- that Abdullah was 102 in a list of accused prepared by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) -- forced the chief minister to step down, triggering a political crisis just when the Valley was getting back to normal after three months of protest demonstrations over human rights violations.

The scam broke in April 2006 after police discovered two video CDs showing Kashmiri women being sexually exploited.

The investigations led to the unearthing of a massive prostitution racket initially said to involve two ministers of the then Congress-PDP government, a deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force, 10 senior police officers, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and many businessmen. Police said 43 women, including a minor, were in the ring run with the patronage of influential men.

There were others, including senior politicians, who were named in the scam but against whom no evidence was found.

In the months that followed, the entire valley saw huge violent protests with mainstream and separatist groups joining hands.

The two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Asiya Andrabi of the Dukhtaraan-e-Millat and the then opposition National Conference of Abdullah joined to condemn the scam.

The Kashmir Bar Association and political groups raised doubts over the credibility of the state government to investigate the racket.

Following the huge public and political outrage, the state government then handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on May 1, 2006.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court also took notice of media reports and ordered that the CBI investigation be monitored at the highest level of the state judiciary.

A woman, Sabina of Srinagar, was arrested and named "kingpin of the sex scandal". Police alleged that Sabina was running a brothel in Srinagar luring young girls with jobs and monetary benefits and forcing them into prostitution.

Two ministers - GM Mir of the Congress and independent legislator Raman Matoo - were arrested in the scam. Also arrested were BSF DIG (deputy inspector general) KS Padhi, former additional advocate general of the state Anil Sethi, IAS officer Iqbal Khanday and some police officials.

It was also reported that senior security officials detained in the sex scandal told the CBI that Sabina's network was, in fact, a source of information for them about terrorists who visited her brothel in the heart of old Srinagar.

The case was transferred to a Punjab court on Sep 4, 2006 after a Supreme Court order when Kashmir Bar Association and separatists threatened defence lawyers.

The CBI is yet to complete its investigation and the case is still going on in a sessions court in Punjab. The accused are out on bail.