SRI NAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta, state BJP chief Sat Paul Sharma, and Kathua MLA Rajiv Jasrotia, who attended a rally in support of rape and murder accused last month, were among eight persons inducted into the council of ministers led by Mehbooba Mufti on Monday.
Gupta, an RSS-loyalist, is the new deputy chief minister of the state. He replaces Nirmal Singh, who resigned from the council of ministers on Sunday along with BJP ministers Bali Baghat and Priya Sethi.
Governor NN Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Convention Centre in Jammu, the winter capital of the state.
The other ministers who took oath were the BJP’s Sunil Kumar Sharma, Devinder Kumar Manyal and Shakti Raj, and the PDP’s Mohammad Khalil Band and Mohammad Ashraf Mir.
Sunil Sharma, who was earlier minister of state for transport, has been elevated to the rank of Cabinet minister.
Jasrotia, along with former BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash, had last month attended a Hindu Ekta Manch rally in Hiranagar, Kathua, in support of the eight accused who have been arrested by the Crime Branch of J&K police for their alleged involvement in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomad girl in Rasana village of Kathua in January this year.Following national outrage over the ministers attending the rally, Lal Singh and Prakash were forced to resign from the council of ministers. Unlike the two, Jasrotia had not addressed the rally.