On a day when the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah for more than six hours here, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said the probe into the Rs 94 crore JK Cricket Association scam won’t deter the battle for restoration of Article 370 and 35A.
Addressing media persons after coming out from the questioning which went on from 11:30 am till 5:30 pm at the ED office at Raj Bagh, Dr Abdullah termed the questioning as “routine” saying “it won’t break my resolve.”
“We have a long way to go and a long political battle which will continue whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or dead. Our fight is for restoration of Article 370 and 35-A. Therefore that will continue whether I am on the stage or not,” Dr Abdullah said.
An emotionally charged Dr Abdullah was seen mounting the bonnet of his car to address the media persons. He said he even “skipped meals due to the ED questioning.”
“Our resolve has never changed and will never change even if I am to be hanged. It is the problem of people of Jammu and Kashmir and not my struggle alone. It is a struggle of all our people,” Dr Abdullah said.
Elaborating on the six-hour long questioning, Dr Abdullah said “there was nothing new in it.” “It (questioning) was going on earlier and had even been conducted at Chandigarh. Whatever they (ED) had to ask they have done. They have their job to do and I have mine.”
When asked that NC vice-president Omar Abdullah had termed the ED questioning as political vendetta, Dr Abdullah said it was better not to draw parallels between the recently formed Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration and the timing of the ED questioning.
“The court will decide what needs to be done once the case is put there. Please don’t bring this (Gupkar Declaration) into the aspect of questioning,” Dr Abdullah said. The present Member of Parliament from Srinagar constituency said he was ready to cooperate with the investigating agency. “I am ready to face whatever questions they have. I am quite clear about it. The world has to move on and I am not worried about anything,” Dr Abdullah said.
Earlier in the day, the ED questioned Farooq in connection with alleged embezzlement of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association funds. His statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as in the past. The ED case is based on an FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which booked former JKCA office-bearers, including general secretary Muhammed Saleem Khan and former treasurer Ahsan Ahmad Mirza. The CBI later filed a charge sheet against Abdullah, Khan, Mirza as well as Mir Manzoor, Gazanffer Ali, Bashir Ahmad Misgar and Gulzar Ahmad Beigh (former accountant of JKCA) 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. The ED said its probe found that JKCA received Rs 94.06 crore from BCCI in three different bank accounts during financial years 2005-2006 to 2011-2012.