Shopian Row Hits Cabinet Expansion

14 June 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The rape and murder of two women in Shopian seems to have further delayed the expansion of the state Cabinet with the Government busy trying to restore normalcy in the Valley after days of protests over the ‘mishandling’ of the incident. The expansion was initially scheduled for June 1 and was later deferred to June 10. Both National Conference and Congress leaders acknowledge that the move has been further delayed by the situation in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Saifuddin Soz had met party president Sonia Gandhi at 10 Janpath on Saturday to finalise the Congress MLAs to be inducted into the Cabinet. The meeting, which was also attended by senior Congress leader Ahmad Patel, however, remained inconclusive. Another meeting in New Delhi could take place in a few days though. Sources said Soz will forward the names to the NC-Congress Coordination Committee after getting the nod from the party chief. Sources said 14 new ministers - seven each from the two parties - are to be inducted into the Cabinet, which has a strength of 10 at present. The Congress leadership, sources said, has already decided to give Cabinet berths to former ministers Ghulam Hassan Mir and Hakim Yasin. The Congress also wants a Minister of State (MoS) from the Valley and four ministers from Jammu region.