New Delhi: Breaking his silence on the mysterious death of a National Conference worker, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the judicial inquiry is on and the truth will come out.
Putting up a brave front, a visibly upset Farooq Abdullah said that they have “nothing to hide”. “There is no reshuffle on the cards and we are strengthening the party. No payoffs happened. National Conference has never asked for money for any seat,” he emphasised.
Defending his son and J&K Chief Minister, Faqooq clarified, “Omar has asked for a judicial inquiry on his own. Truth will come out in the judicial inquiry.”
Addressing the press briefly in Srinagar after a meeting of the workers and ministers of the NC, Farooq attacked the People’s Democratic Party for holding Omar Abdullah responsible for the custodial death of his party worker, Syed Muhammad Yusuf.
“They don’t want the NC-Congress government to stay. They want the National Conference to disappear. We are running a coalition government in the state but the attack has only been on our party, not the Congress,” he said.
The opposition will have to apologise for levelling "baseless" allegations as they have done in the past, the National Conference president further added.
Dismissing the claims by another party worker, Abdul Salem Reshi to a TV channel that money exchanged hands for ministerial berths he said, "Anyone can mention anybody`s name. You cannot stop anyone. This is a democratic country, not an autocratic country."
Abdullah said NC has always selected people on the basis of merit and money has never been a factor.
"There are MLAs and Ministers here, ask them if they have paid anything. NC has never asked for money and it will remain the same in future as well," he said on the allegations of "political payoffs".
The allegations levelled at Omar Abdullah for the custodial death of a party worker has caught the state by storm. With the Opposition baying for the Chief Minister’s blood it seems unlikely that the issue will die down soon. Speculation has also been rife for the past couple of days that the Omar Abdullah government may fall.
Upping the ante, the PDP on its part has been vociferously demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister maintaining that a fair trial is not possible until he relinquishes office. Meanwhile the BJP too has called for an independent probe into the scandal which has hit the state, saying that the issue is no longer an internal matter of the NC.
Earlier today, Omar Abdullah rejected the Opposition PDP demand that he resign as he may influence the judicial probe.
"How is it possible? The judge who will be inquiring the case will not be answerable to my government. Where does the question of influence arise?, Omar told reporters.
"Moreover, it is in the best interest of me and my government that truth and only truth should come out," the Chief Minister said, adding "I will be deposing before the Commission and answer each and every query."
He said people who were making demands that he resign were undermining the judiciary of the country. "People have lot of faith in the courts. So let us not make a mockery of the faith of millions of people."
Yusuf, an NC leader and a land dealer from South Kashmir`s Bijbehara town, died allegedly in police custody in Srinagar on Friday.
He had been detained for questioning by the state police`s crime branch along with two other middle-rung leaders of the party, Abdul Salam Rishi and Muhammad Yusuf Bhat, who had alleged that Yusuf had taken a bribe of Rs 1.18 crore from them for getting one a minister`s post and the other a legislator`s seat.
The government on its part says that Yusuf died in the local police hospital due to a heart attack after he complained of nausea.
Meanwhile, the Congress today defended Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. "Omar Abdullah as a sitting Chief Minister gave a formal statement and a clarification though he was not obliged to. He has asked the Chief Justice to have a judicial inquiry (conducted)," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.
Besides, he said that if the detractors of the Chief Minister have any material evidence, "let them give it to the judicial commission. There is absolutely nothing which can`t be given there. So don`t have speculation in advance."
In another related event, J&K Governor NN Vohra has asked for a detailed report from the state government on the custodial death of the NC worker.