Amid lobbying in Cong, Omar to hold Health portfolio

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has decided to hold the charge of Health Department himself following resignation of Congress’s Shabir Ahmad Khan over allegations of sexual assault on a lady doctor here.
Khan stepped down as Minister of State for Health on Friday, a day after police registered a case a case FIR (No. 09/2014) under RPC sections of 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). The case was filed on a complaint by the doctor, alleging that Khan “acted like a sexual predator” and tried to molest her in his office at winter Secretariat here on January 28.
“In pursuance of Rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Government Business Rules, I, Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir shall hold the charge of Health Department till further order,” a government order (168-GAD of 2014) said on Sunday.
The decision has been taken at time when hectic lobbying was going in Congress with a number of its legislators vying for the portfolio.
If sources are to be believed, a number of Congress legislators from the Pir Panjal region had staked their claim for the portfolio.
Omar’s decision is likely to evoke reaction from Congress. However, the National Conference, a partner in the ruling coalition, is all set to back Omar, who is party’s working president.
National Conference’s support is based on the rationale that Omar retained Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo’s portfolios when he stepped down following violence in Kishtwar pending an inquiry by a retired High Court judge.
Kitchloo was reinstated later after the inquiry exonerated him. He currently holds charges of MoS Industries and Commerce (Independent Charge), Home, R&B, Mechanical Engineering, Housing and Urban Development besides Tourism and Culture.