SRINAGAR, Apr 15 (PTI): Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday accepted the resignations of two controversial BJP ministers, who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl, officials said
The resignations of Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga were received from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state chief Sat Sharma this morning which were immediately accepted and forwarded to Governor N N Vohra for completing the procedural formalities, they said
With these resignations, the number of ministers in the state government has come down to 22, including nine from the BJP
There are three vacancies in the council of ministers as the Mehbooba's PDP had last month removed its finance minister Haseeb Drabu unceremoniously, they said
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who had held consultations with legislators of the party in Jammu on Saturday, had announced the resignations would be forwarded for further action thereby ending a simmering political crisis in the state
Both Ganga and Singh had participated in a rally on March 1 after the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested the nephew of a caretaker of a 'Devisthan' (temple) in connection with the kidnapping and rape of the little girl
During investigation, the police arrested the caretaker and alleged he was the mastermind behind the kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl from a nomadic tribe in Kathua district of the state. The police claimed the motive behind the crime was to terrify the nomadic community and drive it out of the village
The girl was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17. During investigation, the crime branch alleged she was drugged and repeatedly raped before being crushed to death with stones
Both the ministers had maintained on Saturday that they had been sent by the party to Kathua to understand the ground situation. The two ministers were present in the rally in support of the rape-accused where the tricolour was also waved
Madhav had on Saturday said, "That is why they had to resign. During my visit last month here, I made it clear to everyone that in this matter no one speaks and let us allow the investigations to complete
"Certain amount of discretion should have been maintained. Certainly, there was a lack of discretion. Sometimes a lack of discretion does not tantamount of any guilt...that has led to certain misconceptions about them (two ministers) also, so they decided they will quit as ministers," he had responded, when asked about the two ministers having termed the action of the crime branch as "jungle raj" and warned police from arresting anyone
A much-relieved Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for defusing the situation and said the unfortunate incident had brought the people of the state and the rest of the country "together"
She said a sense of justice had been reinforced in the state and urged "New Delhi to wake up to the Kashmir cauldron"
Both the alliance partners -- the BJP and the PDP -- had separate legislature party meetings in Srinagar and Jammu on Saturday to discuss the situation arising out of the polarisation in the state over the rape-cum-murder of the girl.