Srinagar, Oct 19: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday questioned former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president Dr Farooq Abdullah in connection with Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) scam.
Meanwhile, NC vice-president and former CM Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti described the questioning of Dr Abdullah a political vendetta while senior PDP leader and former spokesperson of the PDP-BJP coalition government Naeem Akhtar said this is sheer intimidation.
Official sources said Dr Abdullah was served a summon by ED two days ago to appear before it on Monday in connection with the JKCA scam.
Immediately after Dr Abdullah arrived at the ED office at Raj Bagh, his questioning by the ED officials started, official source told UNI.
Dr Abdullah was last questioned in the case in Chandigrah by the ED on July 31, 2019, a month before centre scrapped Special status of the erstwhile J&K and put him and other political leaders, including two more former CMs—Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba– under detention.
The ED questioning of Dr Abdullah is based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2015 alleging a scam involving about Rs 38 crore in the JKCA.
They said the CBI later filed a charge sheet in the case against Dr Abdullah, who was heading the JKCA and three others, including Ahsan Mirza. Mirza has reportedly told the CBI that whatever he has done was on the directions of Dr Abdullah. It is being alleged misappropriation of funds provided by the BCCI for developing sports infrastructure and organising cricket matches.
Dr Abdullah was the president of the cricket association when the alleged scam took place. Among those also booked in the case are former association general secretary Saleem Khan, treasurer Ahsan Mirza and bank executive Bashir Ahmed.
Meanwhile, NC Vice President Omar in a tweet said ” the party will be responding to this ED summons shortly. This is nothing less then 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”.
Mehbooba in a tweet said “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”.
Another senior PDP leader in a tweet said “ This is sheer intimidation. Funny that even after arresting so many of us, imprisonment of an entire population, unleashing of all laws and brute force and failure in breaking people of Kashmir you still believe such actions will break us. With Dr Abdullah”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the NC in a statement here this afternoon said “The ED summon to Dr Farooq Abdullah is clearly the result of the unity that Dr Sahib has been able to forge among mainstream political parties in J&K. This is the price one faces when opposed to BJP’s ideology and divisive politics. Recent history is a witness to how BJP has been employing coercive and intimidative measures through various departments to target opposition leaders across the country. The recent ED summon to Dr Farooq Abdullah is a case in point.”
The statement further added, “The timing of the recent summon is very clear. His previous summons were just before Aug 5 last year and today’s summon comes within days of forming the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration of which Dr Farooq Abdullah has taken a lead.”
“Dr Farooq Abdullah continues to maintain his innocence and will cooperate with the authorities in what is nothing but a witch hunt,” the statement said.
Dr Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti besides leaders of some other political parties before their arrest on August 5, 2019 signed Gupkar Declaration to defend the special status of the J&K.
However, immediately after the release of Mehbooba after about 14 month detention last week, the leaders again met at the residence of Dr Abdullah said the named it as “ Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. They reiterated to fight for restoration of August 4, 2019 position in the J&K.