|Former Jammu and Kashmir minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir (close-up in inset) being produced at the Patiala House courts. (PTI)
Delhi/Srinagar, June 20: “I am going for a morning walk,” Ghulam Ahmed Mir told the staff at Jammu and Kashmir House as he was led away by CBI officials after his arrest in the sex scandal that has rocked the Valley.
The Congress MLA and former minister had requested the CBI to escort him out without making it evident that he had been arrested, sources said.
Mir, 50, who was minister for tourism and roads and bridges in the government headed by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, had arrived in Delhi last night and checked into the Chanakyapuri guesthouse.
Another former minister and Independent MLA, Raman Mattoo, was arrested from his upscale Gupkar residence in Srinagar early this morning, and taken to the CBI’s makeshift office at Humhama on the city’s outskirts.
They are the first politicians to be arrested in the sex racket, which involves the alleged abuse of minors by politicians and senior officials.
Sources here said the two former ministers were not cooperating with the investigation into the scandal that is being monitored by the state high court. They have been arrested under Section 5 of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act and charged with hiring prostitutes.
“We thought all along that he had gone for a morning walk as he informed us so at the reception. His tone did not show any nervousness,” a guesthouse employee said of Mir, who was named polling agent for Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli but dropped after his name was linked to the racket.
The former minister was taken straight to the CBI’s special crime branch a few kilometres away and then to the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate Kamini Lau, where the bureau sought and obtained transit remand to take him to Srinagar.
| Mattoo. File picture
The judge said she was shocked to hear that minors had been used as prostitutes. “That amounts to rape, I hope the defence is aware,” she said.
Another accused in the sex racket, former additional advocate-general Anil Sethi, has been declared a proclaimed offender. He has been evading arrest after his bail application was rejected by the Supreme Court.
The CBI has so far questioned over two dozen persons, including senior police and civil officers. BSF deputy inspector-general K.S. Padhi and eight others, including alleged mastermind Sabeena, have been arrested. The high court had yesterday pulled up the bureau for slow investigations.
Sabeena had mentioned several politicians, including Mir and Mattoo, in her statement to the police.
Mir is believed to have revealed the names of some other politicians. Deputy inspector-general P.K. Singh, who was heading the CBI team, however, refused to confirm this.
“I cannot tell you anything more at this stage,” he said.