ED questions Farooq Abdullah in JKCA money laundering case, People’ Alliance alleges ‘vendetta’

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering probe related to a multi-crore scam in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association on Monday.

The 82-year-old National Conference president was questioned at the agency’s regional office at Raj Bagh in the case connected to the embezzlement of more than Rs 40 crore of JKCA funds. 

He received the summons a day after the formation of the People’s Alliance was announced in the Gupkar declaration on October 15.

Sources said that Abdullah’s statement will be 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 being asked about his role and decisions taken when the alleged fraud took place in the association, they said.

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 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.

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 (up to December 2011).

The ED alleged that several other bank accounts were opened in the name of the JKCA into which the funds were transferred. The bank accounts along with the existing bank accounts were later used for laundering JKCA funds.

Several constituents of the newly formed People’s Alliance, comprising mainstream political parties from Jammu and Kashmir, described Abdullah being summoned by the ED as a “witch hunt” and ‘political vendetta’ by the Centre.

Abdullah’s son and NC leader Omar Abdullah said the ED action was “…Nothing less than political vendetta” and came days after the formation of the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration.

“To set the record straight, no raids are being conducted at Dr Sahib’s residence,” he said on Twitter.
PDP leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the ED’s “sudden summons to Farooq sahab displays the extent of GOIs nervousness about mainstream parties in JK fighting as one unit’’.

Immediately after revoking the state’s special status on August 5, a host of political leaders, including the two Abdullahs and Mehbooba, were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act. While the Abdullahs were released on different days in March this year, Mehbooba’s PSA was revoked on October 13, nearly 14 months after she was detained.

Two days after her release, on October 15, a meeting was held at the residence of Farooq Abdullah where parties, including the NC, PDP, CPI-M, Awami National Conference and other smaller groups, announced the formation of the People’s Alliance which would seek restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir. 

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