National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah appeared before the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, second time this week, for questioning in connection with alleged misappropriation of funds of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, of which he was the president.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister was questioned for more than six hours on Monday in the case. After the questioning, Abdullah told reporters that he was unperturbed and his only regret was that he could not have lunch.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah pointed out that his father was again called for questioning on a day when he turned 84.
The National Conference, in a statement, criticised the Narendra Modi government for “cornering any voices of dissent”.
The last round of questioning took place four days after Abdullah joined hands with Peoples Democratic Party chairperson Mehbooba Mufti and other Jammu and Kashmir political leaders to restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, abrogated by the Centre on August 5 last year.
National Conference spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar called the ED summons “calculated coercive measures”, adding that it is aimed at curtailing Abdullah’s efforts to weave unity among mainstream political parties in the Union Territory. “Abdullah being treated like this is a proof that the BJP is not even interested in a face-saving act and is completely comfortable with being seen as a bully by the nation,” Dar said.
The government and its agencies, the party spokesperson said, has no consideration for a law-abiding citizen who is severely immuno-compromised and diabetic. “What is it that ED forgot to ask during the six hours it interrogated an 83-year-old Member of Parliament,” the party asked.
“The only way to get a clean chit these days is to surrender one’s ideology and join the BJP,” Dar said in the statement. “We’ve seen this story play out from Assam to Karnataka, from West Bengal to Andhra Pradesh but Dr Abdullah is not going to surrender to the BJP, come what may.”
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that the Constitution and laws had given certain institutions the authority to act and refused to comment on the summons, according to PTI.
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. The ED had questioned Abdullah in August 2019 as well, before the Centre revoked autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. At that time, Farooq Abdullah had told the investigation agency that he had “done no wrong” and was open to scrutiny.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India granted Rs 112 crore to the state cricket body between 2002 and 2011 to develop the sport. The Central Bureau of Investigation had alleged that around Rs 43 crore of this amount was siphoned off by the accused. The central agency took over the case from the state police in 2015 following an order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The scam came to light in March 2012 when J&K Cricket Association Treasurer Manzoor Wazir filed a complaint against the cricket body’s general secretary at the time, Mohammad Saleem Khan, and former treasurer Ahsan Mirza. Jammu and Kashmir Bank official Bashir Ahmed was also named in the chargesheet.