National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Monday said he was unperturbed by the Enforcement Directorate questioning him in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, NDTV reported. “The only regret I have is that I could not have my lunch,” he said.
Abdullah was questioned by the central agency, which investigates financial and money laundering scams, for over seven hours earlier in the day. The Central Bureau of Investigation had in 2018 filed a chargesheet against Abdullah and three others for alleged misappropriation of Rs 43.69 crore between 2002 and 2011. He was the president of the state cricket body at the time when the alleged irregularities took place.
In a press conference held after the interrogation, Abdullah reiterated his party’s stand and said the government was taking punitive action against him because of his recent move to bring together all parties from Jammu and Kashmir in order to restore the special constitutional status. The National Conference had called the summons a “clear political vendetta” after the “People’s Alliance” was formed in Kashmir.
But the party president said the struggle to restore Kashmir’s semi-autonomy “will go on whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or dead”. “Our resolve has not changed and our resolve will not change even if I were to be hanged,” Abdullah said, according to News18.
Six regional parties had last week formed the “People’s Alliance” in an effort to restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, abrogated by the Centre on August 5 last year. The new alliance takes its name from a series of meetings held at Gupkar, in Srinagar, once the political nerve centre of Jammu and Kashmir.
On August 4, 2019, just before they were whisked away into months of detention, political leaders from most pro-India parties in Kashmir had met at Gupkar and vowed to protect Kashmir’s special status. On August 22 this year, representatives of four regional parties and two national parties met again in Gupkar to renew the pledge.
Abdullah said that the Enforcement Directorate was just doing their job. “I am not worried...You [the press] have asked whatever you had to,” Abdullah told reporters. You only want stories... not bothered by anything else. They [Enforcement Directorate] have their job to do. I have my job to do. There’s nothing else to say.”
Peoples Democratic Party chairperson Mehbooba Mufti backed Abdullah. “ED’s sudden summon to Farooq sahab displays the extent of Government of India’s nervousness about mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir fighting as one unit,” she tweeted. “Also reeks of political vendetta and wont in the least blunt our collective resolve to fight for our rights.”
Mufti also tweeted a statement by the People’s Alliance condemning Abdullah’s questioning.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also shared the People’s Alliance statement. “The central government, unnerved by the unity amongst the people...to pursue the goals of the Gupkar Declaration... is resorting to a game of witch-hunt and suppression,” it read.