Political vendetta against People’s Alliance, say mainstream parties
Srinagar: National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah was summoned on Monday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a case of Rs 43 crore fraud in the JK Cricket Association.
Farooq, who is also a sitting Member of Parliament from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, was questioned for five hours at the ED’s Srinagar office, days after he formed the ‘Public Alliance of Gupkar Declaration’, comprising the region’s mainstream political parties to seek restoration of the special status scrapped last year by the Government of India on August 5.
“Remember one thing: we have a long way to go. This is a long fight,” Farooq said after he left the ED office.
“Our struggle will go on whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or Farooq Abdullah is dead. Our resolve has not changed and our resolve will not change even if I were to be hanged,” he added.
“I am not worried, why are you worried? The only regret I have is that I could not have my lunch,” a visibly irritated Abdullah told reporters as soon as he came out of the ED office after his questioning.
Last year, in July, a month before the abrogation of special status, Abdullah was questioned about his role and decisions taken when the alleged fraud took place in the cricket association.
Farooq is named in a case that is based on an FIR filed by the CBI, which booked former JKCA office-bearers, including general secretary Mohammed Saleem Khan and former treasurer Ahsan Ahmad Mirza.
The CBI later filed a chargesheet against Abdullah, Khan, Mirza as well as Mir Manzoor Gazanffer Ali (former JKCA treasurer) and former accountants Bashir Ahmad Misgar and Gulzar Ahmad Beigh for the “misappropriation of JKCA funds amounting to Rs 43.69 crore” from grants given by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to promote the sport in the state between 2002-11.
Asked about the nature of questioning, Abdullah said it was an ongoing process and since the ED had to ask some more things after the previous round of questioning last year, he had made himself available.
Abdullah said the ED personnel had to do their job and he had to do his. “They were nice and very, very good,” the NC president said.
Abdullah refused to comment on the proceedings, saying the matter will be decided in court.
“In the end, it has to be decided in the court when they put the papers in the court,” he said.
Meanwhile, taking to Twitter, Abdullah’s son and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah described the ED summons as political vendetta.
“The party will be responding to this ED summons shortly. 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,” he wrote on the microblogging website.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said the ED summons displays the extent of the Government of India’s nervousness about mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir fighting as one unit.
“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 & won’t in the least blunt our collective resolve to fight for our rights,” she said in a tweet.
People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone said the summons reeks of vendetta and will have an opposite impact to what the BJP wants to achieve.
“What a sorry state of affairs. Dr Farooq sahib summoned by ED. Reeks of vendetta. Contrary to what they want to coercively achieve this will certainly have the opposite impact,” he said in a tweet.
National Conference said the BJP is employing government agencies to target party president Farooq Abdullah after failing to fight him politically.
“The BJP, after failing to politically fight party president Farooq Abdullah, has resorted to employing its agencies for the task,” an NC spokesperson said in a statement here.
The NC spokesperson said the ED summons to Abdullah is clearly the result of the unity the party president has been able to forge among mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir in the shape of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.
“This is the price one faces when opposed to BJP’s ideology and divisive politics. Recent history is a witness to how the BJP has been employing coercive and intimidating measures through various departments to target opposition leaders across the country. The recent ED summons to Abdullah is a case in point,” the statement said.
The NC said the timing of the summons is very clear as the previous summons was issued just before August 5 last year, when the BJP-led Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, and this summons comes within days of forming the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, of which Abdullah has taken a lead.
“Abdullah continues to maintain his innocence and will cooperate with the authorities in what is nothing but a witch-hunt,” the statement added.
—With inputs from PTI