‘Yusuf used mimicry artiste for Abdullah's voice’



Srinagar: In a new twist to Haji Yusuf death case, a mimic artiste has claimed in his confessional statement that the deceased used to pay him Rs 2,000 for mimicking the voice of Union Minister Farooq Abdullah to win the trust of people who allegedly gave money in return for getting a ministerial portfolio or any other government job.

Jammu and Kashmir Police had put Aizaz Malik, a 24-year- old youth from South Kashmir, on scanner after the cell phone record of Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah alias Haji Yusuf showed that the two were in touch on regular basis, official sources said here on Sunday.

After questioning, Aizaz decided to record the confessional statement before a Magistrate in South Kashmir during which he said that he had been mimicking many politicians especially Farooq Abdullah allegedly at the insistence of Haji Yusuf.

In his two-page confessional statement, recorded under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code, the youth claimed that Yusuf used to pay him an amount of Rs 2,000 for doing such a mimicry over phone which used to help him in convincing people who had paid him for getting a ministerial berth or nomination to Legislative Council or any other governmental work done.

His mimicry act was also recorded by the court which forms a part of the evidence, the sources said, adding that he had been receiving threats from some groups against deposing before the court.

Another person, who happens to be an eyewitness in the case, Mohammed Yuusf Bhat of Ganderbal had also recorded his confessional statement before Chief Judicial Magistrate (Ganderbal) Javed Alam.

Bhat, a resident of Ganderbal, 30 km from here, was among the three present at the residence of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on September 29 where Haji Yusuf was handed over to Crime Branch after he admitted to have duped him and another person Salam Reshi taking money running into more than Rs one crore against a promise of a ministerial berth or membership in the Legislative Council.

In his statement, Bhat, who has kept himself away from the media glare ever since the mysterious death of Haji Yusuf allegedly during police custody, recalled that he had gone to Jammu where he met the deceased.

"I had gone to Jammu in February this year where I met Haji Yusuf and he asked me the reason for my visit. I told him that Legislative Council elections are being held and I am also desirous of becoming an MLC," Bhat said in his four-page confessional statement, also recorded under section 164 of CrPC.

Bhat claimed that Haji Yusuf told him that he would have to make a payment of around Rs 70 lakh for the same which would be counted as party fund.

The eyewitness gave a detailed account of names of his relatives from whom he had borrowed Rs 70 lakh to give it to Haji Yusuf. "In June, Haji Yusuf raised a fresh demand of Rs 15 lakh which again I borrowed from my relative Manzoor Ahmed," he said.

Bhat said that in July he had started demanding his money back from Haji Yusuf as his work had not been done and the deceased started avoiding him.

"One day when I visited his home along with my relation Manzoor Ahmed and demanded my money. He (Haji Yusuf) picked up his phone and told me that he was talking to Dr Farooq Abdullah and also kept the speaker phone on. He told the person on the other side of the phone that Yusuf Ganderbali has come here and is asking why his work was not done. The person on the other side told the deceased that the work would be done and I should wait.

"However, Manzoor Ahmed (Bhat's relative) told the Yusuf Shah (deceased) that the voice on the other side was not that of Farooq Abdullah," he said, adding, tempers flared up after that and the deceased threatened him with dire consequences.

"I went and told the entire story to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and he asked me to come to the residence at 3.30 PM.... When I reached the residence, I saw Salam Reshi also sitting there. After one hour, Haji Yusuf also came there," Bhat said.

Ten minutes later the Chief Minister accompanied by Minister of State (Home) Nasir Sogami also came and Salam Reshi said that Haji Yusuf had also taken an amount of Rs 34 lakh from him out of which he had returned later Rs 30 lakh while Rs four lakh were still pending, he said.

After hearing the allegation, Omar expressed his displeasure and Haji Yusuf, in presence of Nasir, admitted to taking the money to which the Chief Minister said that crime had taken place and needs to be investigated, he said, adding the Chief Minister returned to his residence.

"Ten minutes later Inspector General, Crime, Raja Aizaz and Political Advisor to the Chief Minister Davinder Rana entered the office.... I repeated the story before the IG who asked all three of us to accompany him to Crime Branch HQ. Later all three of us left the place safe and sound with the IG. Nobody had neither beaten Haji Yusuf nor was there any altercation," he said.

Haji Yusuf complained of stomach pain in police vehicle and after reaching the Crime Branch Headquarters the deceased went to bathroom and was later taken to a doctor.

"Haji Yusuf was not touched by anyone either at CM residence or at Crime Branch HQ," he said, adding next day he came to know that Yusuf was no more.

A case under section 420 (cheating) and section 405 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC has been registered against Haji Yusuf, who died due to a massive heart failure on September 30 prompting the Chief Minister to announce a judicial probe.

The state government has requested the Union Law Ministry to appoint a panel of three retired Supreme Court judges to probe the incident after Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court refused to provide the services of a sitting HC Judge citing shortage of judges.

PTI