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Another U.P. Minister offers to resign over Kavita Rani case

Thursday 28 December 2006, by KHAN*Atiq

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav asks him to continue in office

Kiran Pal Singh denies that prime accused is his nephew "My name has not figured in police investigations so far" "

LUCKNOW: Even as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav refused to order a CBI inquiry into the Kavita Rani case, one of his senior ministers in the eye of the storm, Basic Education Minister Kiran Pal Singh, on Wednesday offered to resign but was deterred from doing so by the Chief Minister himself.

Already the Minister of State for Food Processing Chaudhary Babu Lal and former Irrigation Minister Merajuddin Ahmed, both from the Rashtriya Lok Dal stock, had quit the Government and the party following the disclosure that they were reportedly in touch with Ms. Rani before she went missing.

Without naming Mr. Kiran Pal Singh, the opposition parties had alleged that the police and the Government were trying to shield a minister belonging to the Samajwadi Party fold. Mr. Singh’s name cropped up after it was reported that prime accused Ravindra Pradhan was the Minister’s nephew. Also, according to the former Chairman of the State Lalit Kala Akademi, Brijendra Pratap Singh, who is now in Jan Morcha, Ms. Rani’s name was referred by the Basic Education Minister as a member of the Akademi.

Talking to The Hindu from Bulandshahr, Mr. Singh said he had offered to step down from the Council of Ministers in the wake of the controversy but had been dissuaded by Mr. Yadav. "I had decided to quit in the light of the controversy and even spoke to the Chief Minister today [Wednesday] but Mr. Yadav told me to continue as my name had not figured in the investigations conducted so far by the Meerut police," said Mr. Singh.

Denying that the accused was his nephew, the Minister, however, admitted that he had referred Ms. Rani’s name to the then Chairman of the U.P. Lalit Kala Akademi. "During the course of my official work I receive several visitors from western UP. Yes, I phoned up the Lalit Kala Akademi Chairman referring Ms. Rani’s name," the Minister added. Ms. Rani, incidentally, also belonged to Bulandshahr, which is the Minister’s home district.

The Minister will hold a public rally in Bulandshahr this coming Sunday to solicit public opinion for his next step. Mr. Singh denied that the resignations of Chaudhary Babu Lal and Merajuddin Ahmed had created a pressure-cooker situation for him.Meanwhile, another twist was added to the kidnapping drama when the State Principal Secretary (Home) Satish Kumar Agarwal and D-G Police Bua Singh told newsmen that no phone calls had been received by Ms. Rani on her cell phone after October 24, 2006. The police chief said that Ms. Rani’s brother was lying in claiming that he talked to his sister on December 7. Mr. Singh said the call records of Ms. Rani, Mr. Babu Lal and others were being assessed .

Both officers denied the necessity of a CBI inquiry into the episode, stating that the police were capable of cracking the case. Mr. Singh said the case was being investigated by the Meerut police in tandem with the Special Task Force of the UP police. The DGP said that the CD had not been recovered, adding that the Government had ordered stoppage of water flow in mid-Ganga Canal to recover Ms. Rani’s body, which the accused claimed had been thrown into the canal after she was dumped off.

See online : The Hindu

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