Srinagar: Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday appeared at the Enforcement Directorate’s Srinagar office to answer questions related to a money-laundering case.
The 61-year-old People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief arrived before noon at the ED’s Srinagar office at Rajbagh. She was guarded by her cavalcade, and not allowed to interact with the media at the time of her arrival. In order to prevent the interaction, her car was moved into the office premises. But after she came out, Mufti said that dissent had been criminalised in the country, and those who speak up were being either booked under sedition charges or being summoned by investigative agencies.
Mufti said she was questioned about her father’s property in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara, and funds during her tenure as former CM. “I had nothing to hide,” she told reporters.
The ED had actually summoned her on March 15 to New Delhi, a date later deferred to March 22, but she fought against the summons in the Delhi High Court. The court did not give verdict in her favour. Later, in a letter to the ED, Mufti said “she was not in a position to attend the summons as she has prior commitments that cannot be cancelled at such short notice but was willing to be questioned in Srinagar preferably at her residence or through a video conference from Srinagar.” Her request to ED officials that she be questioned in Srinagar instead of Delhi was accepted
“I write to you in reference to the summons issued to me to be present at your Delhi office on March 22. I have challenged in the Delhi High Court the constitutional vires of Section 50 of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), under which these summons are issued,” she said in her letter to the ED.
In the evening, she wrote on her Facebook, that she was forced to sign the statements by the ED.
“To set the record straight, during the course of my questioning at ED, right from the start I insisted on not signing any statements till I consulted my lawyers. But I was shown rule books & told that not signing would have consequences.Finally despite my reluctance, I was forced to sign a statement which is evident from the cctv footage of my questioning, “ She wrote.
Earlier, Mehbooba was under custody for over a year, booked many times under the Public Safety Act. She was arrested after the Government of India abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and reduced it to a Union Territory.
The ED is empowered by law to summon any person to give evidence or produce records regarding a case.