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PESHAWAR: The lack of quorum in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly once again prevented the jailed minority MPA-elect Baldev Kumar from taking oath on Monday.

Mr Kumar was produced in the house twice on the orders of the Peshawar High Court but on both occasions, the house lacked quorum and thus, blocking his swearing-in.

MPA Mehmood Jan from the four-member panel of the chairpersons presided over the session.

Mr Kumar is behind bars on the charge of masterminding the killing of adviser to the chief minister for minorities affairs Sardar Soran Singh in April 2016.

Mr Kumar was second on the priority list of the PTI candidates submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan for seats reserved for non-Muslims in the house with Soran Singh being the first priority.

Soon after the recitation from the Holy Quran, PTI member Fazl Ilahi pointed out the lack of quorum when the chair asked Mr Kumar to stand up for taking the oath.

The chair ordered the assembly’s staff members to ring the bells for three minutes but the number of the members inside the assembly hall remained unchanged. He ordered the ringing of the bells again but the number of MPAs in attendance remained the same.

Later, after the bells were rung for the third time, the chair said only 10 MPAs were present in the 124-strong house and therefore, the quorum was incomplete.

He announced the prorogation of the session.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had declared Kumar returned candidate on the seat reserved for non-Muslim in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Aug 23, 2016, four months after the assassination of Soran Singh.

At that time, the PTI-led provincial government had announced that it would use all ways and means to stop the entry of Mr Kumar to the assembly and his oath-taking.

The police had arrested him and two other suspects within 24 hours of the killing, claiming Mr Kumar wanted to become MPA and therefore, he got Soran Singh killed.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2018