SRINAGAR: Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah was on Wednesday again summoned by the Srinagar wing of Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged multi-crore scam in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).
This was the second time in three days that the octogenarian politician and three-time chief minister of J-K had to face cross-examination by the ED officials, termed by the NC as “part of a coercive plot”. His son and NC vice president Omar Abdullah lamented, “This on a day when my father turns 84!”
On Monday, Senior Abdullah was ‘interrogated’ by the ED officials for seven hours over his alleged role in misappropriation of Rs 113.66 crore (including bank interest) received by JKCA from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) between April 2002 and December 2011. It is alleged that instead of utilising funds on development of infrastructure, these were swindled by some of its members including former treasurer Ahsan Mirza to live a lavish lifestyle. Abdullah was the president of the association when the alleged embezzlement took place.
The NC lambasted the government over its “agenda of cornering any voice of dissent”. Terming the latest summoning of its president by the ED as a “calculated coercive measure”, the party spokesman Imran Nabi Dar asked, “What is it that the ED forgot to ask during the six hours it interrogated an 83-year-old Member of Parliament (on Monday)?”.
He alleged that the “unnecessary hounding of the octogenarian leader” is being done to curtail his efforts to weave unity among mainstream political parties in J-K. The spokesperson said that the government and its agencies have no consideration for a law abiding citizen who is severely immune-compromised and diabetic. “Dr Farooq is 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.
He asked, “How many times will BJP use CBI, ED, anti-corruption Bureau and its other agencies to browbeat Opposition? The plot has become predictable. Anyone who speaks against the government or musters courage against its divisive politics will be hounded and summoned.” He added, “The only way to get a clean chit these days is to surrender one’s ideology and join the BJP. We’ve seen this story play out from Assam to Karnataka, from West Bengal to Andhra Pradesh but Dr Farooq is not going to surrender to the BJP, come what may.”
Soon after his interrogation by the ED, Abdullah had on Monday reiterated that he had nothing to do with the alleged scam. "I'm quite clear. My fate will be decided by the court when they put the case into the court," he said.
However, J-K’s mainstream Opposition parties sought to link the ED’s summons to Abdullah with their forming an alliance last week to fight for the restoration of the erstwhile state’s special status.