Kashmir lawmaker calls sex assault case conspiracy

AP News
Posted: Feb 13, 2014 7:45 AM
Kashmir lawmaker calls sex assault case conspiracy

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a female doctor in Indian-controlled Kashmir surfaced on Thursday after evading arrest for several days and said the allegations were part of a conspiracy against him.

Shabir Ahmad Khan, from the nationally governing Congress party, resigned as Kashmir's junior health minister on Friday but failed to appear when summoned by police investigating the case. A court on Saturday issued a warrant for his arrest, but Khan vanished and eluded several police raids in the neighboring Jammu region.

Kashmir's High Court granted Khan bail on Wednesday and set a hearing for Feb. 18, but barred him from leaving Kashmir.

The case is "a conspiracy to spoil my political image. The allegations leveled against me are baseless," Khan told reporters outside a government guest house in Srinagar, where he arrived Thursday in a vehicle escorted by paramilitary soldiers.

The case has shocked many in Kashmir, a mostly Muslim territory divided into an Indian-administered region and a Pakistani-held portion. Both countries claim the mountain territory in its entirety, though anti-India sentiment runs deep throughout.

Demands for better security for women have mounted across India since the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in December 2012.