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Impersonation case: J&K Minister refuses to quit

Shujaat Bukhari


Senior NC leader named in scandal quits party post

Saroori's daughter among 7 candidates who allegedly hired impersonators


SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Roads and Buildings G.M. Saroori has “refused” to resign even as a senior Congress leader said the party had asked him to do so in the wake of his alleged involvement in an impersonation case in a private medical college in Jammu.

However, senior National Conference leader Ram Paul, who is named in the scandal, has resigned as the chairman of the Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes cell of the party, Jammu province.

Mr. Ram Paul, a former Minister, resigned in the wake of his name finding a mention in the ASCOMS entrance examination impersonation case, a party spokesman said. In his resignation letter, Mr. Paul claimed that he was innocent.

Mr. Saroori's daughter is among seven candidates, who allegedly hired impersonators to take up the entrance examination. The alleged impersonators, including a girl, were arrested on August 21.

Mr. Ram Paul's son was among the seven accused.

On Tuesday night, Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and AICC general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir Prithviraj Chavan told a news agency that the Minister was asked to resign. “The party Minister has been asked to resign,” he was quoted as saying.

However, Mr. Saroori remained defiant and, according to informed sources, boarded a flight to Saudi Arabia to perform “Umrah” (pilgrimage apart from Haj).

Mr. Saroori's office here issued a statement, saying it was not true. “There is no truth in the reports that the Congress high command has asked Mr. Saroori to resign in connection with the impersonation case. Mr. Saroori, who visited Delhi on Tuesday met with Union Ministers, before proceeding to perform “Umrah,” a statement issued through e-mail said.

“During his meeting with the Central leaders no one had asked him to resign in connection with the case,” the statement said adding: “In fact, Mr. Saroori got Rs. 72 crore sanctioned under the PMGSY for various schemes in J&K during his meeting with the officials of the Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.”

The Minister, the statement said, had denied his involvement in the case and urged the authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring out the facts before the public. He alleged that there were some vested interests who wanted to malign his name by involving him in the case.

A close aide of Mr. Saroori told TheHindu that he was victim of factionalism in the party. Mr. Saroori is known to be a supporter of Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

However, Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz stressed that the Minister was asked to resign. “It is a serious matter and there is no question of factionalism behind this,” he said.

The State government had decided to hand over the case to the CBI.

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