Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has rejected Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan’s resignation as chairman of the Kumbh Mela Committee. Mr. Khan put in his papers on Monday owning moral responsibility for the February 10 stampede at the Allahabad railway station, in which 37 people died. In a statement here on Thursday, Mr. Yadav praised the Minister for the successful conduct of Kumbh Mela and said due to Mr. Khan’s efforts, the event was passing off in an orderly manner. “As such, the question of accepting his resignation does not arise.”

The Chief Minister’s decision follows his father and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh showering praises on Mr. Khan for making good arrangements.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding its bid to shift the blame on the Railways for the tragedy, the Akhilesh Yadav government has been under attack from the Opposition, which blamed it for poor crowd management and lack of arrangements for pilgrims. In a memorandum submitted to Governor B.L. Joshi, the BJP Legislature Party has demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court into the incident. Leader of the Opposition Swamy Prasad Maurya said the Bahujan Samaj Party would not rest until a judicial probe was ordered by the government.