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Mehbooba accepts resignations of BJP ministers present at rally for rape accused

The BJP ministers, forest minister Chaudhary Lal Singh and commerce minister Chander Prakash Ganga, had resigned from the PDP-BJP government on Friday after uproar over the two of them attending a rally in support of the Kathua rape accused.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2018 19:01 IST
 

Press Trust of India, Srinagar
Mehbooba Mufti,PDP BJP alliance,Kathua rape case
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti assured justice in the Kathua rape case, saying the state government will work towards enacting a law that awards the death sentence for rapes of minors.(PTI File Photo)

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday accepted the resignations of two controversial BJP ministers, who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua, officials said.

Theresignations of Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga were received from BJP state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor N N Vohra for completing the procedural formalities, they said.

With these resignations, the number of ministers in the state government has come down to 22, including nine from the BJP.

There are three vacancies in the council of ministers as the PDP had last month removed its finance minister Haseeb Drabu unceremoniously, they said.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who had held consultations with legislators of the party in Jammu yesterday, had announced the resignations would be forwarded for further action thereby ending a simmering political crisis in the state.

Both Ganga and Singh had participated in a rally on March 1 after the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested the nephew of a caretaker of a ‘Devisthan’ (temple) in connection with the kidnapping and rape of the little girl.

During investigation, the police arrested the caretaker and alleged he was the mastermind behind the kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl from a nomadic tribe. The police claimed the motive behind the crime was to terrify the nomadic community and drive it out of the village.

The girl was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17. During investigation, the crime branch alleged she was drugged and repeatedly raped before being killed by crushing her head with stones.

Both the ministers had maintained yesterday that they had been sent by the party to Kathua to understand the ground situation. The two ministers were present in the rally in support of the rape-accused where the tricolour was also waved.

Madhav had yesterday said, “That is why they had to resign. During my visit last month here, I made it clear to everyone that in this matter no one speaks and let us allow the investigations to complete.

“Certain amount of discretion should have been maintained. Certainly, there was a lack of discretion. Sometimes a lack of discretion does not tantamount of any guilt...that has led to certain misconceptions about them (two ministers) also, so they decided they will quit as ministers,” he had responded, when asked about the two ministers having termed the action of the crime branch as “jungle raj” and warned police from arresting anyone.

A much-relieved Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for defusing the situation and said the unfortunate incident had brought the people of the state and the rest of the country “together”.

She said a sense of justice had been reinforced in the state and urged “New Delhi to wake up to the Kashmir cauldron”.

Both the alliance partners -- the BJP and the PDP -- had separate legislature party meetings in Srinagar and Jammu yesterday to discuss the situation arising out of the polarisation in the state over the rape-cum-murder of the girl.

(This story has not been modified from its original version)

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 17:17 IST