He allegedly made provocative, indecent gestures at doctor

Congress leader and Health Minister in Omar Abdullah’s coalition government Shabir Ahmad Khan resigned on Friday after the police registered a case of ‘sexual assault’ against him on a woman doctor’s complaint and summoned him for questioning.

Official sources said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah forwarded the resignation to the Governor who accepted it. On Thursday, the Block Medical Officer in Pulwama district appeared before the Station House Officer (SHO) at Shaheed Gunj with a written complaint, saying that on January 28, when the Minister was in Srinagar, she was repeatedly called over telephone by his special assistant Mazhar asking her to attend a “meeting” with Mr. Khan at his office in the Civil Secretariat.

Even as the doctor asserted that the Minister should hold the meeting with the Director of Health, Kashmir, or the Chief Medical Officer of Pulwama, Mr. Mazhar insisted on her attending it. But on her arrival, the Minister asked her to wait for him in his private room, adjacent to his office chamber.

He then made “provocative and indecent gestures, orally and physically,” before she forced her exit, says the complaint.

Deputy Inspector-General Ahfadul Mujtaba told The Hindu that a case of sexual assault was made out on the complaint under Sections 509 and 354 of the Ranbir Penal Code and an FIR was registered at the Shaheed Gunj station. He said statements by some witnesses corroborated the “vital facts” of the doctor’s statement, which was formally recorded on Friday, following which the police sent a communication to Mr. Khan, directing him to appear for questioning. “Default may lead to his arrest,” the DIG said.

The Rajouri MLA was at his home at Manjakot village when the Congress high command’s direction that he resign immediately was delivered late Thursday night. He left for Jammu, J&K’s winter capital, at 5 a.m. on Friday and remained inaccessible for media and politicians for the whole day.

Transit bail

In another development, senior advocate B.S. Slathia appeared before a Division Bench of the J&K High Court praying for permission to file Mr. Khan’s bail petition before a judge in Jammu.

It was turned down as the alleged incident had occurred in Srinagar.

Sources said efforts were still under way to seek Mr. Khan’s transit bail for four days from a judge in Jammu.

Opposition slams govt

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti, addressed two press conferences in Srinagar and Jammu, calling the Omar government “a regime of scandals” and demanding the arrest of Mr. Khan. Health Department employees staged a protest against Mr. Khan at their headquarters in Srinagar. The Doctors Association called for a “total shutdown” on Saturday and demanded that he be “executed.”