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Azad orders CBI probe in 2005 killing of minister

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
January 15, 2008 00:36 IST
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The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the killing of senior ruling Peoples Democratic Party leader and the then junior education minister, Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone.

Lone was killed inside his official residence in the high security Tulsibagh locality of summer capital Srinagar on October 18, 2005.

Succumbing to pressure from Lone's son and legislator Shoaib, who was supported by opposition National Conference, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad finally announced in the house that the CBI had been asked to probe the killing.

Authorities had then maintained that Lone had been killed in a militant fidayeen attack, a claim contested by Lone's family.

Replying to discussion on the adjournment motion moved by the opposition on Shoaib's allegations in the assembly, Azad said, "The attack in which Dr Lone got killed was aimed at the Communist Party of India-Marxist legislator, M Y Tarigami who lived close to the slain minister's residence."

He said, "While one of the attackers was killed by the armed guard posted at the residence of Tarigami, four others were arrested. Two Pakistani terrorists involved in the crime could not be arrested."

The chief minister said all the four arrested persons have admitted to have killed Dr Lone and also given full account of the conspiracy.

Azad said that since some doubts had been created about the case and since the slain minister's son had also expressed doubts about the enquiry, he discussed the issue with Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Agriculture Minister Abdul Aziz Zargar and told them that since there was nothing for the government to hide and the accused had admitted to having committed the crime, the demand should be accepted.

Azad said the CBI would now investigate the killing and see if there was anything more to be looked at.

Shoaib had also leveled serious allegations of corruption against a senior minister in the coalition who he said had demanded Rs 40,000 from the legislator for doing his job.

Lone on Monday disclosed the name of the minister to the chief minister and also informed about a threat his mother received.

The chief minister later told the house that the person who had threatened the legislator's mother had been arrested.

Azad said action against the accused would be taken under the law and if found guilty, he would not be spared.

He said it would be also looked into whether the accused had taken the bribe at his own level or accepted it for somebody else.

The chief minister said if it was found that he was working as a conduit, the person for whom the bribe money was taken would also face the music.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar