Home / India / ‘How to signal J&K polls?’ Send ED to quiz Omar Abdullah

‘How to signal J&K polls?’ Send ED to quiz Omar Abdullah

His party called it a 'fishing expedition' and remarked sarcastically that this was the Centre’s way of announcing elections in the troubled region
Omar Abdullah.
Omar Abdullah.
File photo

Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar   |   Published 08.04.22, 02:27 AM

Anti-corruption agency Enforcement Directorate on Thursday questioned former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah in Delhi in what he described as a “12 or 13-year-old case”.

His party National Conference called it a “fishing expedition”, meant to tarnish a political opponent of the BJP, and remarked sarcastically that this was the Centre’s way of announcing elections in the troubled region.


The party emphasised that despite this being the month of Ramazan, Omar had chosen to accept the summons to appear in Delhi without seeking a postponement or change of venue.

Omar entered the ED office at 11am and left its premises around 5pm.

“They did not accuse me of anything. It is an ongoing investigation in a 12 or 13-year-old case in which they had called me for questioning. I answered them as much as I could,” Omar later told reporters. “I was asked questions and I answered them. If they need me in the future, I will help them.”

Omar told the reporters they had purposely been brought to the venue (apparently by the ED) to publicise his being questioned about an alleged scam.

While the ED did not reveal which case had prompted the summons, media reports said the matter was related to alleged financial irregularities at the Jammu and Kashmir Bank during Omar’s 2008-14 tenure as chief minister.

The Jammu and Kashmir government is the majority stakeholder in the bank, and its various decisions need the chief minister’s approval. The CBI has booked a former chairman of the bank and others for alleged irregularities in the sanction of loans and investments.

“The central government has made a habit of misusing investigative agencies…. No political party that puts up meaningful opposition to the BJP has been spared. Whether it is the ED, CBI, NIA, NCB — all have been used for political purposes,” the National Conference spokesperson said.

“There was a time when elections were announced by the EC (Election Commission) but now it seems that elections are announced by the ED. Over recent years we have seen that wherever state elections are due, agencies like the ED move in and target those parties who pose a challenge to the BJP.”

Assembly elections have long been due in Jammu and Kashmir but no dates have been announced.

The ED and other central government agencies have questioned almost the entire leadership of the mainstream political parties since the 2019 scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, triggering allegations of vendetta politics by the Centre.

Among those questioned were two other former chief ministers, Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti.

In 2020, lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha’s administration publicly named senior Valley politicians, including Farooq, as beneficiaries of an alleged land scam, described by BJP veteran Kavinder Gupta as a “land jihad”.

Gupta had claimed there was a Muslim campaign to occupy government land in Jammu to change its Hindu-majority character.

Many of the accused suspected their names had been made public just before the beginning of the district body polls to tarnish them, as they had formed an alliance to contest the elections and prove that Kashmiris were against the dilution of Article 370.

The BJP was left embarrassed when investigations allegedly revealed that Gupta himself was a land-grabber.

Copyright © 2020 The Telegraph. All rights reserved.