Jammu and Kashmir minister of state for health Shabir Khan, who was on Thursday booked for molestation of a woman doctor, resigned from the ministry after being told so by his party, Congress.
“I have received the resignation letter of the minister of state for health Shabir Khan and forwarding the same to the governor for acceptance,” tweeted chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Governor NN Vohra, who is learnt to be busy with the visit of vice-president Hamid Ansari, is likely to accept the resignation later.
Earlier in the day, Congress asked him to resign pending inquiry.
“Law will take its own course," JKPCC spokesman Ravinder Sharma told reporters.
The demand for minister’s resignation had grown stronger in the valley and employees at health directorate suspended work, demanding an impartial inquiry into the sexual assault case, terming it “highly shameful”.
Also, the Doctors Association Kashmir, led by its president Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan, announced that all doctors will go on strike on Saturday to protest against the incident. “Such incidents are intolerable,” he said.
It was learnt the police filed a case of molestation against the minister on Thursday only on the directions chief judicial magistrate Rajiv Gupta, though the doctor had approached them for three consecutive days.
“It is outrageous that the woman had to approach the court for an FIR. I salute her courage that she went ahead with her fight,'' said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
The police, however, denied the charges and said that after preliminary investigations the FIR was filed at Srinagar's Shaheed Gunj Police Station.
In her complaint, the doctor alleged the minister had called her to his office chamber in civil secretariat at Srinagar as he wanted to know some details about the announcements made by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad during his visit to Kashmir.
She alleged she was made to wait inside a cubicle, where the minister passed objectionable remarks and made advances.
She allegedly was even asked to come to the minister's Srinagar residence and serve kehwa, a local drink.
Union minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah told reporters in New Delhi that "if it (charges) are true, action must be taken as per the law”.
He said crimes against women like molestation and rape are not acceptable and "we are all against any such thing."
Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that if the complaint is found to be true, action will be taken according to the law.
"If this is true action will be taken and he will not be minister anymore. One has to find whether it is true or not. If it is found true, action will be taken and the law will take its own course," Azad said.
The demand for the minister’s resignation also came from CPI-M leader MY Tarigami. (With PTI inputs)
Khan is the eleventh minister in the Omar-led coalition government facing a serious allegation and adds a sour note to his political career, especially when the assembly elections are slated this year.
Seven Congress ministers – G M Saroori, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla, RS Chib, Tara Chand – either lost their portfolios or resigned in the face of a series of allegations ranging from influencing examination system, land grab, sub-standard medicines, irregularities in recruitment, indecent behaviour and poor healthcare leading to deaths of infants.
Two leaders of the ruling National Conference – state home minister Sajad Kitchloo and Choudhary Ramzan – also faced serious allegations.
Kitchloo was reinstated as state home minister after a judicial inquiry gave him a clean chit in Kishtwar communal riots case. Ramzan still faces allegations of a land grab in Srinagar.
Another cabinet minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, an associate member of Congress from north Kashmir, was accused of army payoffs after his name figured in an army's internal inquiry offering to topple the Omar government in 2010.