This Article is From Oct 19, 2020

"Not Worried, Only Regret Missed Lunch": Farooq Abdullah On Questioning

Mr Abdullah's National Conference said in a statement issued earlier that he maintains his innocence in the matter and will cooperate in what is "nothing but a witch-hunt"

The ED move against Farooq Abdullah is "nothing but a witch-hunt", his party has said

Srinagar:

Senior politician Farooq Abdullah, 82, was questioned on Monday for nearly seven hours by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged irregularities in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, issued a spirited statement to the press in the evening, declaring: "I am not worried, why are you worried? The only regret I have is that I could not have my lunch".

Mr Abdullah also reiterated his party's stand on the Article 370 issue - his National Conference and other J&K parties called the summons "political vendetta" and pointed out that it came after the Gupkar Declaration - saying the "struggle will go on whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or dead".

"You (the press) have asked whatever you had to. You only want stories... not bothered by anything else. They (the investigating agency) have their job to do. I have my job to do. There's nothing else to say," Mr Abdullah told reporters outside the agency's office in Srinagar.

The National Conference said in a statement issued earlier that Mr Abdullah maintains his innocence in the matter and will cooperate in what is "nothing but a witch-hunt". According to news agency PTI, Mr Abdullah said the ED only had follow-up questions after a session last year.

"I am not worried, why are you worried? The only regret I have is that I could not have my lunch," he said when asked if he was concerned about the inquiry.

Mr Abdullah also played down "political vendetta" comments - also made by his son Omar Abdullah. "Not for me to decide. The court will decide," he said.

However, Mr Abdullah - one of hundreds of political leaders detained by the centre hours before it moved to end special status under Article 370 last August - said his questioning would change nothing.

"Our struggle will go on whether Farooq Abdullah is alive or dead. Our resolve has not changed and will not change even if I were to be hanged. It is not Farooq Abdullah or the National Conference's struggle alone. It is the struggle of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah tweeted a long statement this evening, in which the People's Alliance - the outcome of the Gupkar Declaration - hit out at the centre over "vindictive politics... to kill dissent and disagreement across the country".

"... the central government, unnerved by the unity amongst the people... to pursue the goals of the Gupkar Declaration... is resorting to a game of witch-hunt and suppression," the statement said.

The original Gupkar Declaration (the second was signed on Thursday) was signed August 4 last year after an all-party meeting at Farooq Abdullah's Gupkar Road home in Srinagar.

Regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect J&K's special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it. A day later the centre enforced its massive Article 370 decision.

Mr Abdullah and three others are named in a 2018 charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation that claims misappropriation of Rs 43.69 crore from the J&K cricket body between 2002 and 2011.

He was summoned on Monday - not by the CBI but the ED, which investigates large-scale financial crimes and is probing allegations of money laundering in the same case.

With input from PTI