ED grills Farooq Abdullah for 6 hours in JKCA graft case, People’s Alliance cry ‘vendetta’
Srinagar: The Enforcement Directorate questioned Monday the National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah for over six hours in connection with a multi-crore scam in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA). The development prompted accusations of ‘political vendetta’ by the newly-formed People’s Alliance comprising several mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah, the 82-year-old former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister received the ED summons a day after the formation of the People’s Alliance led by him was announced on October 15.
Abdullah was questioned at the agency’s regional office here in the case connected to the embezzlement of more than Rs 40 crore of JKCA funds during his tenure as president of the association. The CBI has already filed a chargesheet against him and the ED is probing the money laundering angle in the case.
Emerging from the ED office after the questioning, Abdullah told reporters that courts would decide on the merits of the case. “I am not worried. Why are you worried? The only regret I have is that I could not have my lunch as I had not brought it along. The ED is doing their job and I am doing mine. Our struggle (for Article 370) will go on whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or Farooq Abdullah is dead. Our resolve has not changed and our resolve will not change even If I were to be hanged.”
ED officials said Abdullah’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The Lok Sabha MP and former JKCA president, who was also questioned in the case in Chandigarh in July last year, is understood to have been questioned about his role and decisions taken when the alleged fraud took place in the association.
The questioning took place four days after Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream political parties, including the NC and the PDP, met at Abdullah’s residence and formed the People’s Alliance for ‘Gupkar Declaration’.
The Declaration resolves to campaign constitutionally for the restoration of Article 370, under which the erstwhile state enjoyed special status. August 5 last year, the Centre revoked the state’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The Alliance strongly condemned Abdullah’s questioning and termed it ‘part of the vindictive politics practised by the central government to kill dissent and disagreement across India and in the present case to silence the genuine ‘demand of reversal of unilateral and unconstitutional’ abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A.
The ED case is based on an FIR filed by the CBI, which booked former JKCA office-bearers, including general secretary Mohammed Saleem Khan and former treasurer Ahsan Ahmad Mirza.
The CBI later filed a chargesheet in 2018 against Abdullah, Khan, Mirza as well as Mir Manzoor Gazanffer Ali (former JKCA treasurer) and former accountants Bashir Ahmad Misgar and Gulzar Ahmad Beigh for the ‘misappropriation of JKCA funds amounting to Rs 43.69 crore’ from grants given by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to promote the sport in the state between 2002-11.