NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Jammu Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) leader Omar Abdullah was questioned for over six hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday in connection with a money laundering case related to J&K Bank scam.
A top ED official related to investigation confirmed to The New Indian that Abdullah was questioned under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 at the financial probe agency’s headquarters in New Delhi.
After the questioning, Abdullah said he answered all questions of ED officials and would appear before the agency again if required. “There was no allegation against me. I was called in for an ongoing investigation in a 12-13 years old case. I have answered all of their questions. I will cooperate with them in the future also.”
“The reason for calling you all (media) here is that a piece of news is run that I have been called in some scam. No one here accused me of anything,” he said.
The JKNC leader arrived here at ED headquarters around 11 am and left the ED office around 4.45 pm. He was grilled for more than six hours.
Earlier in the day the JKNC called the questioning “political in nature”, asserting that there was “no wrongdoing on his part.”
The ED money laundering case is based on the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against former J&K Bank Chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Shaikh and others for alleged irregularities in sanctioning of loans and investments.
In 2021, CBI had registered a case against the then management of J&K Bank for buying a property from Akruti Gold Builders in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla in 2010 allegedly at an exorbitantly inflated rate of Rs 180 crore.
In a detailed statement, the JKNC accused the Central government of misusing the central investigative agencies against its political opponents.
“In Spite of it being the holy month of Ramzan, and Delhi not being its primary place of residence, Abdullah did not seek a postponement or a change of venue and appeared as per the notice,” the party said.
The party said that the Centre had made a habit of misusing investigative agencies and it was another step in the same direction. “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 party alleged.
It further said that there was a time when elections were announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) 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,” it said.
Slamming the Central government, the JKNC said, “This summons to our vice president is in the same vein. We have no doubt that this fishing expedition will yield no concrete results to the BJP and the people will give a ringing endorsement to the national conference as and when required.”
It also said that the summon was another step in the vicious vilification campaign that started even before August 5, 2019, when constitutional position holders like the then Governor were used to “make slanderous accusations against opponents of the BJP, knowing full well that there was no legal recourse available to those at the receiving end of these lies”.
“Even though this exercise is political in nature, Omar Abdullah will cooperate with investigative agencies as there is no wrongdoing on his part and he is not an accused in any matter under investigation,” the JKNC statement reads.
Earlier, the ED had questioned Omar’s father and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in connection with the J&K Cricket Association scam case and also attached properties to the tune of Rs 11.8 crore.