Saving The Tainted

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The ruling coalition in J&K has dissolved the panel probing allegations of land grab against senior leader Taj Mohiuddin, reports Riyaz Wani

IN A brazen act of political interference, the ruling National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition in J&K has put a lid on the probe against allegations of land grab against Cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin of the Congress. J&K Legislative Council (LC) Chairman Amrit Malhotra dissolved the committee probing the allegations after the NC withdrew two of its members, Bashir Ahmad Veeri and Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy, from the committee.

The committee was formed during the autumn session of the Legislative Council after National Panthers Party MLC Rafiq Shah produced revenue documents that showed Mohiuddin in possession of 13 kanals (1 acre = 8 kanals) of State-owned forestland in Shopian district. Health Minister RS Chib of the NC wrote to Malhotra, calling on him to wrap up the committee. “It cannot be constituted by the Upper House against the sitting Cabinet minister who happens to be a member of the Lower House,” Chib wrote in his communication to Malhotra. The letter pleaded scrapping of the five-member committee on the grounds that the LC chairman did not take the House on board before constituting the committee.

However, in his reply to Chib, the LC chairman stood his ground. “I want to make it clear that I’m supposed to take decisions on the basis of record and evidence brought before me and on being satisfied about the need and necessity of taking a particular decision,” Malhotra wrote, adding, “There was, and there is, no reason for seeking anybody’s advice in the matter. Suggestions for seeking legal advice in the matter are unsolicited and unwelcome.”

Chib was not the only politician demanding the dissolution of the committee. Eight Congress lawmakers also urged the LC chairman to dissolve the committee.

While all these assaults left the committee hobbled, the coup de grace came on 9 November when the NC pulled out two of its members from the committee. Malhotra disbanded the committee three days later. “The committee does not seem to be in a position to serve any purpose without the participation of NC. Against this background, I’m convinced that the continuance of the committee would not serve any purpose,” Malhotra wrote.

Mohiuddin (left) has denied any wrongdoing and says that he’s open to a probe.

Riyaz Wani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.
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