The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday attached National Conference President Farooq Abdullah’s properties worth Rs 11.86 crore in connection with the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association money laundering case.
In a statement, the agency said that it has attached three houses, commercial buildings and lands at four different places in Jammu and Kashmir. Abdullah’s three residential assets include one each at Gupkar Road, Tehsil Katipora and Bhatindi.
“During investigations it is disclosed that out of the aforesaid attached properties the residence and land of Farooq Abdullah at Gupkar Road and commercial buildings at Residency Road, at prime upmarket locations, are basically state lands obtained on lease,” the ED said. “It was also disclosed that the attached house at Bhatindi, Village Sunjwan, (Jammu) had been constructed by Farooq Abdullah on state land and forest land, where he has also grabbed state land and forest land.”
The agency claimed it has found that between 2006 and 2012, Abdullah had misused his position to launder JKCA funds. So far, it said more than Rs 45 crore appear to have been siphoned off, including large cash withdrawals of Rs 25 crores.
“Between 2005-2006 to 2011, JKCA received funding totalling to Rs 109.78 crores from BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India],” the ED added. It said further investigation in the case is underway.
Farooq Abdullah’s son and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the properties attached by ED are largely ancestral. “There can be no justification for the seizures because they fail the very basic test of having been acquired as the proceeds of the ‘crime’ being investigated,” he said in a series of tweets.
He added: “Dr Abdullah is in touch with his lawyers and will fight all these baseless charges in the one place that matters – a court of law, where everyone is presumed to be innocent and is entitled to a fair trial unlike in the court of the media or the court of BJP managed social media.”
The Enforcement Directorate had questioned Abdullah twice in October in connection with the alleged misappropriation of funds of the association. He was the president of the state cricket body between 2001 and 2011, when the alleged irregularities worth Rs 113 crore reportedly took place.
Abdullah’s questioning on October 21 took place four days after he 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.
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 the Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy.
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.