Former State minister Shabir Ahmad Khan said sexual assault charges against him was aimed at spoiling his political career

Former Jammu and Kashmir Health Minister Shabir Ahmad Khan was on Thursday arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a woman doctor and released on bail soon after he appeared at a police station in Srinagar. The Congress MLA, who was forced to resign from the Omar Abdullah Ministry in the wake of the charges and had been evading arrest, was quizzed by police for about an hour as he came out of his hiding claiming innocence.

Mr.Khan arrived at Shaheed Gunj police station in Srinagar at around 5 p.m., a day after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed him to appear before police. A police official said the former minister was let go after he gave a personal bond of Rs. 25,000 as per the orders of the High Court. Earlier in the day, Mr.Khan claimed that the allegations against him were false and were targeted to spoil his political career. “These allegations are false and aimed at spoiling my political image and career. I am innocent...101 per cent innocent,” the Congress legislator told reporters.

The former minister expressed hope of getting justice from the court, and said he will cooperate with the police. “I am here to give my statement to the investigating team on the directions of the court. I will fully cooperate with them. I am hopeful of getting justice from the court,” he said. Mr.Khan submitted an application to the investigating officer seeking permission to leave Srinagar so that he can attend the ongoing Assembly session at Jammu.

He also gave an undertaking that he will make himself available as and when required by the investigating officer. The High Court had set several conditions on Mr.Khan which included not to leave Srinagar city without prior permission of the investigating officer. According to the complaint of the woman doctor, Mr.Khan as Minister of State for Health had summoned her to his office chamber in Civil Secretariat on January 28 and tried to molest her.

Asked as to why he went into a “hiding” after submitting his resignation last week Mr.Khan, against whom an arrest warrant was issued on Monday, said he was not hiding and as a citizen had the the right to approach courts. “I was in touch with the media. I have been talking to some media persons and have also issued a statement. As a citizen I have a right to go to court to prove my innocence. And God willing, I will be proved innocent,” he said.

Mr.Khan said he resigned from the Council of Ministers on "party’s advice” and to enable a “free and fair probe” into the matter. Mr.Khan had moved an anticipatory bail application before the High Court in the alleged sexual assault case lodged against him by a lady doctor on February 6. Justice Janak Raj Kotwal on Wednesday directed Mr.Khan, who was evading arrest since February 7, to present himself before the investigating officer of the case on Thursday. Justice Kotwal had also directed the police to release Mr.Khan on personal bond of Rs 25,000, in case he was arrested.

The final orders on the anticipatory bail application will be pronounced on Monday. The court also asked Mr.Khan not to leave the territorial jurisdiction of Jammu and Kashmir before the next date of proceedings on Monday.