Farooq Abdullah: Resolve to restore Article 370 won't change even if I am hanged

Abdullah was summoned by the ED on Monday over allegations of embezzlement

Farooq-Abdullah-ED-PTI Srinagar: National Conference President Farooq Abdullah leaves the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in Srinagar, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020 | PTI Photo/S. Irfan

NC leader and MP Farooq Abdullah on Monday said his resolve for the restoration of Article 370 will not change even if he is hanged.

The ED summoned Abdullah three days after he chaired a meeting of six J&K parties who signed the Gupkar Declaration on August 4 last year to “fight for Article 370’’, at his residence in Srinagar 

After the meeting, Abdullah announced the formation of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration to fight for the restoration of Article 370. PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, J&K People Conference chief Sajad Lone and CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami were among the leaders who attended the meeting at Abdullah's residence at Gupkar Road in Srinagar.

“We want the government of India to return to the people of the state the rights they had before August 5, 2019,’’ Abdullah said. “At the same time, the political issue of the state has to be resolved as quickly as possible through dialogue with all the stakeholders who are involved in the problem of Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Our resolve will never change even if I have to be hanged,’’ Abdullah said after he left the Enforcement Directorate where he was questioned for seven hours about a case regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds in the JK Cricket Association (JKCA) when he headed the association.  

“It is the problem of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It is not Farooq abdullah's struggle alone," he said, adding that this is a long political battle and one that will continue.  

“Remember one thing: We have a long way to go. We have a long political battle and that battle will continue whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or dead,’’ he said. 

He said a few years back the ED had summoned him to Chandigarh for questioning.  

“This has been going on for a long time, it is not a new thing,’’ he said. “Today they wanted to ask something more, they did that.” 

A visibly angry NC leader told the reporters that they only wanted stories.

“What is in this now why are you troubled by it,’’ he said. “You are not bothered about anything else. They have their job to do. I have mine. There is nothing else to say.’’ 

When told that Omar Abdullah has called his summoning by the ED a political vendetta, the NC leader said he would not say anything. 

“It is not for me to decide. The court will decide what is to be done when they put the case in the court,’’ he said. “Why are you worried? I will face any questions they have. I am quite clear about it”.

He said the ED will do their job and he would do his. “There is nothing you should be worried about,’’ he said “I am not worried. I regret that I could not eat food.”

Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti called Abdullah's summoning a political vendetta.

“This is nothing less than political vendetta coming days after the formation of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration,’’ Omar said. “To set the record straight, no raids are being conducted at Dr Sahib’s residence.”

Mufti also weighed in. “ED’s sudden summons to Farooq sahib displays the extent of GOIs nervousness about mainstream parties in J&K fighting as one unit,’’ Mufti tweeted. “[It] also reeks of political vendetta and won’t in the least blunt our collective resolve to fight for our rights,” she tweeted.

Abdullah was among more than 50 political leaders who were detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) after the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir last year. Initially, he was detained in his house under preventive detention; later, the PSA was slapped on him. His wife Molly Abdullah came from the UK to be with him during his detention. He was released in March after his daughter Sara Pilot, wife of Congress leader Sachin Pilot, moved the Supreme Court against his detention.

The NC president is today one of the senior-most politicians in India and represents the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency in Parliament. The case of misappropriation pertains to a payment of Rs 113.67 crore by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to the state cricket body from 2002 to 2011 for the promotion of the game. A significant amount of funds were allegedly misappropriated.

Abdullah was ousted as the JKCA president in February 2015 and replaced by Imran Ansari, who was the sports minister in the then PDP-BJP government. The CBI charge-sheet named Abdullah, Ehsan Mirza (then JKCA general secretary), Saleem Khan (treasurer) and Bashir Misgar (then J&K Bank Khanyar branch manager) as accused in the scam. 

Later, the ED also joined the probe.  The directorate said its probe found that J&KCA received Rs 94.06 crore from the BCCI in three different bank accounts from 2005–2006 to 2011–2012 (up to December 2011).

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