Congress MP backtracks on statement on Kashmir sex scam(Lead)

May 5th, 2008 - 11:41 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Jammu, May 5 (IANS) After kicking up a storm with his statement that Jammu and Kashmir assembly Speaker Tara Chand and and former Congress state party president Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed were involved in a sex scam, Congress MP Madan Lal Sharma Monday evening tried to wriggle out by saying that his account had been “distorted by the media”. Sharma had also alleged that Chand and Sayeed were saved only when pardon was sought for them from Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the behest of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The government has denied any such meeting had taken place between the Congress leaders and Gandhi.

“The media has added its own conclusions to my statement,” Sharma told newspersons. “How could I dare to name Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.”

“All I said was that Peerzada Sayeed was involved in a scandal, maybe there was a slip of tongue about the speaker, but I never mentioned the names of Sonia Gandhi and Azad,” he said.

But the local channels ran the footage of Sharma’s speech in which he clearly states that the two had sought pardon from Sonia Gandhi.

Sharma, who represents Jammu constituency, had made the allegation at a public rally in a village near Akhnoor Sunday.

Sharma said Azad had pleaded with Gandhi to “intervene and save the party from embarrassment”. He said the chief minister had also told her that “the arrest of the speaker would lead to a crisis”.

In his public speech, he also said Tara Chand and Sayeed should be jailed.

Tara Chand denied the accusations. “The final decision rests with the party high command which should not take cognizance of such baseless utterances,” he told reporters, adding, “Everybody knows my image.”

A state government spokesman said that the allegation made by Sharma “was utterly baseless, false and without any foundation” and there was no question of “the government trying to protect any accused in the scandal”.

The sex scam had created an uproar across the state in October. Some ministers, top police and paramilitary officials and bureaucrats were accused of involvement.

Ghulam Ahmad Mir, a former Congress minister and legislator of the Dooru constituency, was arrested from the Jammu and Kashmir House in New Delhi, while independent legislator Raman Mattoo was arrested in Srinagar in connection with the case.

Both were released on bail by a court in Chandigarh. However, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court later pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for tardy investigation and observed that some people were not questioned or arrested though they were named by some of the girls who were pushed into prostitution.

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