The ruling National Conference MLA from Kishtwar, Sajjad Kichloo, was re-inducted as Minister of State for Home in Omar Abdullah’s government at a hurriedly organised oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here on Saturday.

Governor Narender Nath Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Kichloo, whose induction had been recommended by Mr Abdullah immediately after receiving an interim report from the one-man Commission of Inquiry on Thursday. A former judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, R.C. Gandhi is holding an enquiry into the communal riots of Kishtwar. Three men had died and scores had sustained injuries when the unruly crowds attacked vehicles and torched properties on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr on August 9 this year.

Partisanship

Facing allegations of partisanship, Mr Kichloo had resigned on August 12. He had declared at a news conference here that he could not function as a Minister until cleared of all the accusations against him. Members of the minority community, allegedly provoked by the BJP leadership, had, inter alia, claimed that a crowd of the majority community looted a large number of .12 bore rifles from Chenab Gun House at Mr Kichloo’s instance. The commercial complex ransacked by the mob belonged to the Kichloos.

Well-placed sources disclosed to The Hindu that a senior government functionary on Thursday “requested” Justice Gandhi to submit an interim report of his findings to the government even if he needed more time to come up with the final report. On the same day in the evening, the interim report was delivered on Secretary General Administration Department.

On Wednesday, National Conference’s Core Group comprising Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and six of his Cabinet Ministers—Abdul Rahim Rather, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, Mian Altaf Ahmad, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Ajay Sadhotra— had expressed concern over what they called “NC’s total vacuum in Chenab valley”.

The speakers pointed out that the Congress had been strengthening its base and “monopoly” in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts with the NC’s “zero presence”. Mr Kichloo happens to be the only MLA of the NC from the three districts—a stronghold of the Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.