Political vendetta, say Omar, Mehbooba
SRINAGAR, Oct 19 : National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah was today questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Srinagar for seven hours in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association scam.
Dr Abdullah was summoned today by ED at 11 am in connection with multi-crore JKCA scam. He spend whole day in the ED office at Rajbagh where he was questioned for seven hours. He left the ED office at 5 pm.
Speaking to reporters, Dr Abdullah said that the ED sleuths were nice, sober and friendly to him. He said let ED do their job and he will his own.
“I am quite clear. I will always face them. My fate will be decided by the Court when they would put the case to judicial scrutiny. I couldn’t have lunch today. There was no time”, he added.
Asked whether he was summoned because of the formation of Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, Dr Farooq said that “don’t bring Gupkar Declaration into this.”
On whether the questioning was regarding J&K Cricket Association scam, he said: “Why are you bothered? Ask them (ED).”
Replying to a query whether ED summon and questioning of seven long hours would weaken his resolve for fight seeking restoration of Article 370 back, Dr Farooq said that it wasn’t his resolve alone. “This is the resolve of people of Jammu and Kashmir. This will continue whether Farooq Abdullah is dead or alive.”
To a query that his son Omar Abdullah and PDP chief had termed the ED summon to him as political vendetta, Dr Farooq said: “I have nothing to say on that.”
Abdullah’s son, Omar said the questioning was political vendetta and connected to the alliance forged by six parties from Jammu and Kashmir over the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. “This is nothing less than political vendetta coming days after the formation of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. To set the record straight no raids are being conducted at Dr Sahib’s residence,” Omar posted.
Former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the summon depicts nervousness about the mainstream politicians. “ED’s sudden summon to Farooq Sahab displays the extent of GoIs nervousness about mainstream parties in J&K fighting as one unit. Also reeks of political vendetta & wont in the least blunt our collective resolve to fight for our rights,” Mehbooba tweeted.
National Conference spokesperson said in a statement that the ED summon to Farooq Abdullah, who represents Srinagar in the Lok Sabha, shows that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has failed to fight him politically and is now taking help from agencies.
“The ED summon to Dr Farooq Abdullah is clearly the result of unity that Dr Sahib has forged between different mainstream political parties in JK. This is the price one faces when opposed to the BJP’s ideology and divisive politics,” the spokesperson said.
Ten office-bearers of the JKCA, including Abdullah, are accused of turning the sports body into a lending agency and operating several bogus accounts between 2005 and 2012 when the scam was unearthed.
The scam came to light in March 2012 when JKCA treasurer Manzoor Wazir filed a police complaint against former general secretary Mohammad Saleem Khan and former treasurer Ahsan Mirza. Soon, a list with around 50 names linked to the financial scandal was out. Abdullah lost the post of JKCA president later after holding it for more than three decades.
ED attached assets worth Rs 2.6 crore in a money laundering case related to the alleged embezzlement of funds of JKCA. A provisional order for attachment of assets was issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the former treasurer of JKCA Ahsan Ahmad Mirza and its finance committee member Mir Mansoor Gazanffer.
The ED case is based on a Central Bureau of Investigation’s first information report as part of which the latter probe agency booked former office-bearers of JKCA, including general secretary Mohammad Saleem Khan and Mirza. The CBI filed a charge sheet against Farooq Abdullah, Khan, Mirza, Mir Manzoor Gazanffer Ali, Bashir Ahmad Misgar and Gulzar Ahmad Beigh (former accountant of JKCA) for “misappropriation of JKCA funds amounting to Rs 43.69 crore” from grants given by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to the association for promoting the sport in the erstwhile State between 2002-11.
The ED probe has found that during the financial years 2005–2006 to 2011–2012 (up to December 2011) JKCA received Rs 94.06 crore from BCCI in three different bank accounts. However, several other bank accounts were opened in the name of JKCA into which these funds were transferred. Such other bank accounts along with the existing bank accounts were later used for laundering funds of JKCA.
Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance, a newly formed conglomerate of mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, today condemned the interrogation of Dr Abdullah and termed it as part of the “vindictive politics” practised by the Centre to eliminate dissent and disagreement across the country.
Such “tactics” will not dampen the conglomerate’s resolve for restoration of Statehood and the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, it said in a statement.
“It is stated that the Central Government unnerved by the unity amongst the people across all the regions and communities to pursue the goals of Gupkar Declaration and support extended to it by political parties and civil society groups at the national level is resorting to a game of witch-hunt and suppression,” the Alliance said in its statement.
Condemning the Enforcement Directorate’s action, the group said it was part of the “vindictive politics practiced by the Central Government to kill dissent and disagreement across the country”.
In the present case, the action has been taken “to silence the genuine demand for reversal of unilateral and unconstitutional decisions of August 5, 2019” under which the State was bifurcated into two Union Territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir — and the special status guaranteed under Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution was abrogated.
“The Alliance has reminded the Central Government that such tactics are not to dampen the will of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to have the Constitutional status realised,” it said.
The Alliance also urged the Centre to realise “the dangers in this process of witch-hunting and intimidation” and desist from such “vindictive designs”. “Dialogue with all stakeholders remains the only option to address the deepening uncertainty in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” the statement said.