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Embattled Kashmir minister asked to stay

  • Story Highlights
  • New Delhi-appointed governor Vohra asks Omar to "continue in office"
  • Omar says he had "full confidence" in his innocence
  • Kashmir has seen two decades of violence in which 43,000 people have been killed
By Mukhtar Amad
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SRINAGAR, Indian-administered Kashmir (CNN) -- The state's governor gave his support to the embattled chief minister, who had tendered his resignation after an allegation that he was involved in a sex scam dating back to 2006.

Omar Abdullah denies any link to a prostitution ring, saying he has stepped down to clear his name.

Omar Abdullah denies any link to a prostitution ring, saying he has stepped down to clear his name.

The allegation was leveled Tuesday against Omar Abdullah, 38, by a senior leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, on the floor of the state assembly.

Omar's swift resignation plunged the state into a constitutional crisis that appeared to end Thursday when the New Delhi-appointed governor, N. N. Vohra, issued a communique asking Omar to "continue in office as (Vohra) had got the allegation investigated through the Indian home ministry."

The governor said that, "based on the information supplied to him by the union home ministry, there is no basis for Omar Abdullah seeking to resign."

Vohra urged the chief minister to "most vigorously devote himself to discharging responsibilities of chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir."

The opposition party dismissed the governor's communique, saying, "It has the potential of bringing the highest constitutional authority of the state also into controversy as the communique doesn't make mention about the chief minister's resignation."

A relaxed Omar told journalists Thursday evening that he had "full confidence" in his innocence.

Omar had delivered his resignation to the state governor after opposition member Muzaffar Hussain Beigh accused him, during a session of the state legislative assembly, of being connected to a prostitution scandal.

Muzaffar served as deputy chief minister in the previous government, when several top pro-India officials were arrested on charges that they had misused their authority to force girls and women into a prostitution ring in Kashmir.

Omar denied involvement but said he could not "continue in the office following the allegation" and would not serve again until he was cleared of the charges.

Omar entered office in January after elections in late 2008 that saw the highest voter turnout in the region in nearly 20 years, since the eruption of a secessionist insurgency. Voters went to the polls in large numbers, despite a separatist call for a boycott of the voting.

Most recently, the chief minister has been working to defuse tensions that are still running high after the arrest of four police officers in the probe of the alleged rape and murder of two young Muslim women in May.

Two people have died and many have been wounded in clashes between Muslim protesters and Indian security forces stemming from the case.

The arrests included the former police chief of south Kashmir's Shopian district and three of his subordinates, who are accused of "destruction of evidence" and "dereliction of duty" in connection with the deaths, which occurred in the town of Shopian.

Kashmir has been in the throes of a bloody secessionist campaign for nearly two decades during which, 43,000 people have been killed, according to official figures.

Various rights groups and non-governmental organizations in Kashmir, however, contend that the number killed during the last two decades is twice the official figure.

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