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JK minister quits over clashes, Omar orders judicial probe

By Mukhtar Ahmad
Last updated on: August 12, 2013 19:02 IST
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Jammu and Kashmir Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday over communal violence in Kishtwar that claimed three lives.

The resignation came four days after communal clashes broke out in Kishtwar, Kitchloo's home constituency, and spread to other parts of the region, forcing the government to call in the army and impose curfew in Jammu city and six other towns.

The clashes have so far claimed three lives and left several others wounded besides huge loss of property in arson.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had demanded the resignation of Kitchloo who was present in Kishtwar when the communal clashes broke out on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month of Ramzan.

While announcing his resignation, the minister questioned BJP’s moral right to demand his resignation, saying “Did Narendra Modi resign on Gujarat riots?”

“Certain unfortunate incidents have happened in Kishtwar which I unreservedly condemn. The chief minister has ordered a judicial enquiry by a retired high court judge to unravel the truth. Truth must come out, culprits must be identified and those responsible should be punished,” Kitchloo said in a statement.

“My conscience does not allow me to continue as a minister till the probe is completed.”

Sources in Srinagar said the chief minister is forwarding Kitchloo's resignation to Governor N N Vohra for acceptance.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has ordered a judicial inquiry headed by a retired high court judge to establish the truth behind Friday's violence.

"I have received Sajad Kitchloo's resignation asking to be relieved of his responsibilities pending the outcome of the judicial inquiry. The resignation has been forwarded to Governor N N Vohra for acceptance," Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Meanwhile, curfew remained in force in six districts of Jammu region on Monday amid deployment of army even as ten people were arrested in connection with communal clashes in Kishtwar.

However, in Udhampur district, a two-hour relaxation in curfew was given in the morning which passed off peacefully, an official said.

"Curfew continues in several districts of Jammu region. The situation is limping back to normalcy. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere," Divisional Commissioner, Jammu region, Shantmanu told PTI.

"A total of 68 shops, 7 hotels and 35 vehicles have been damaged during the untoward incidents and 3 causalities have been reported so far (in communal violence in Kishtwar district)", Shantmanu added.

The Jammu-Srinagar national highway continues to remain closed for traffic, officials said.

Image: Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo

With inputs from PTI

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar