Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Srinagar on Thursday in a money laundering case.
She was questioned by the agency after skipping two summons from the ED on March 15 and March 23 at New Delhi, which she said she could not attend due to personal commitments. In a letter to the financial investigation agency, Mufti had shown her willingness to face questioning in Srinagar.
The PDP leader arrived at the ED office in Raj Bagh at about 11 am and was questioned till 4:30 pm. “It is not rocket science to understand what is happening. There is no place for dissent in this country...This country is not running according to the Constitution of India but according to the agenda of a particular political party,” Mehbooba said after her questioning ended.
Mehbooba said the summons should be seen in the backdrop of the larger suppression of dissenting voices. “Dissent has been criminalised in this country and those who dare speak or oppose (the Centre) are being hounded by agencies like the ED and NIA. I do not have anything to hide which is why it took them two years to finally question me,” she said.
The PDP president added that she was questioned regarding an “audit” of her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s mausoleum. She, however, maintained that she will continue to fight for the restoration of Article 370.
Her questioning comes at a time when several of her party members, including leaders like Khurshid Alam and Yasir Reshi, and many party workers have been resigning from the party, a move seen by many as a way to weaken her influence.
The summon also comes days after her close ally Waheed ur Rahman Parra was named in a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Jammu in a case related to terror-funding in which infamous J&K police officer Dy.Sp. Davinder Singh is allegedly involved. Singh was arrested last year in January along with top militant Naveed Babu on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. Following the incident Parra was also arrested later on November 25.
“The investigation revealed that chargesheeted accused Parra was part of the conspiracy for raising and transferring of terror funds to Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants for procurement of terrorist hardware and was also a crucial player in sustaining political-separatist-terrorist nexus in J&K (sic),” an NIA statement said.
The NIA claims of a “nexus” are serious charges against Parra, who was one of the key party members over the last decade and won from Pulwama in the recently held District Development Council (DDC) polls in the region.
Mehbooba Mufti, a former ally of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the last coalition government formed in the erstwhile state, was also amongst the top political leadership slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) and detained in the region ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A on August 5, 2019. She was released after a 14-month-long detention after most of her counterparts were set free.
Two months after she was released, the 61-year-old leader shot a letter to the ED director alleging that the agency was being “weaponised as a tool to hound political opponents by the ruling party.”
“A powerful State was demoted to a UT, the Opposition kept quiet. An existing UT has its powers defined (rightly or wrongly)& the whole opposition is up in arms. The opposition must not pick & choose. Let us know whr u stand on J&K please. (sic),” PDP leader Mehboob Beg tweeted.