Taj Land Grab: Malhotra Withdraws Probing House Penal

KL Report

SRINAGAR

Chairman legislative council Amrit Malhotra Monday withdrew the house penal that was constituted to probe the allegations of land grabbing by PHE Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din at Sedow in Shopian. The decision was taken after ruling National Conference and Congress withdrew its members from the penal leaving one member each from opposition parties PDP and Panthers Party in it.

“Malhotra Sahab dissolved the penal,” sources close to the council chairman said. “It was done in wake of the fact that house’s largest political party (read NC) withdrew its members and refused to act on the penal.” The Chairman has made it clear that at personal level he had no malafide interest in setting up the penal and he had strictly followed the rule of the law in wake of the documents on record.

The penal that was set up on October 11, after a Panthers Party member in the upper house leveled allegations of land grabbing and later submitted a number of official documents to substantiate his allegations. The penal was headed by PDP lawmaker Murtaza Khan with four other members – Syed Rafiq Shah (Panther’s Party), Bashir Ahmad Magray (Congress) and Dr Bashir Ahmad Shah (Veeri), Khalid Najib Suhrawardy (both from National Conference).

Taj Mohiuddin who is also facing other allegations on the issue of land grab wrote a detailed letter to the Chairman Legislative Council and also to the Speaker of legislative assembly. He termed the allegations a conspiracy and offered his version of the story including a number of documents to both the houses. The penal, interestingly, had one sitting in which they raised certain issues with which the minister was not comfortable.

Finally, the undoing of the penal started. It started with NC members resigning from the penal, apparently on the directions from the party high command. Given the compartmentalization within the Congress, there was some initial resistance but finally Magray gave in. Sources told Kashmir Life that he had handed over his resignation to the Chairman in private but once the report crept to the front pages, courtesy minister’s persona staff, it looked more like a forgery case. However, Chairman decided to dissolve the penal on Monday within hours after the offices resumed in Jammu.

The dissolution of the penal is a major boost to Taj Mohiuddin who is considered one of the most powerful ministers having full and unqualified support of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The decision will add to his weight in the government but will add to the crisis with in the Congress that survives in different groups remotely controlled by various top leaders in Srinagar and in Delhi.

“I am not aware that it has been dissolved,” PDPs Khan who was supposed to head the penal told the Kashmir Life. “Let the news come officially.”

Read the order here.

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