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Mufti’s resigned minister back in office

Srinagar, Sept. 23: Agriculture minister Abdul Aziz Zargar, who resigned earlier this month after allegations of a link to the Akshardham temple attack, has started attending office again.

The senior People’s Democratic Party leader and a close friend of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had refuted the allegation that the plot to raid the Gujarat temple was hatched in his ancestral house after putting in his papers on September 11.

The state police, too, have denied any link between him and the militants.

But Sayeed had announced that he would wait for a report from the Union home ministry before taking “a decision on Zargar’s resignation”.

“There has been no word on the minister’s resignation and Zargar sahib has started attending his office and the state cabinet meeting regularly now,” said an officer of the minister’s secretariat here.

Zargar’s travails began when an accused in the temple attack, identified by the police as Chand Khan, was arrested from Anantnag in south Kashmir.

Thirty-two devotees were killed on September 24, 2002, when militants opened fire inside the Akshardham temple complex near Gandhinagar.

Soon reports, apparently based on interrogations of Khan, appeared saying the conspiracy to “attack the Akshardham temple at Ahmedabad in Gujarat was hatched at his (Zargar’s) ancestral house” at Manzgam in Anantnag last year.

Zargar resigned and said: “I am innocent and I have no knowledge of my native house having been used by the LeT militants involved in the attack on Akshardham temple. The campaign against me seems politically motivated as I have already refuted the allegation.”

State Congress chief Ghulam Nabi Azad came out openly in support of Zargar’s assertion that he had not visited his south Kashmir home for many years following threats to his life.

“I am not aware who visited my native house and when. Even during electioneering, I never visited my native house. I was not living in the house for the last 13 years,” Zargar had said.

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