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Dissent Criminalised; Country Not Run Under Constitution: Mehbooba After ED Questioning

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow

SRINAGAR—Seemingly undeterred by Enforcement Directorate (ED) grilling, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said the country is not being run under the Constitution but as per the agenda of a particular party.

Mehbooba appeared before the Enforcement Directorate at Srinagar where she was questioned for five hours. Amid tight security, she arrived at the ED office here at 11 am and was allowed to leave at 5 pm on Friday.

The former chief minister said she was forced to sign a statement by the ED though she had insisted that she would do it only in front of her lawyers. 

“To set the record straight, during the course of my questioning at ED, right from the start I insisted on not signing any statement till I consulted my lawyers. But I was shown rule books & told that not the signing would have consequences…Finally, despite my reluctance, I was forced to sign a statement which is evident from the CCTV footage of my questioning,” she tweeted.

Soon after leaving the ED office, she told media persons that the central government was working through ED, CBI, and NIA.

“It needs no rocket science to understand that dissent has been criminalized in this country. The country is not being run under the Constitution of India but as per the agenda of a particular party wherein one cannot talk or is allowed to open mouth. These things will keep on going,” she said.

Mehbooba said she was asked about selling their ancestral property at Bijbehara. “They (ED sleuths) asked me who purchased it and against what amount as well as about funds meant for engagement of youth,” she said.

She said those who speak up are being slapped with sedition or money laundering cases.  “Strangely they asked me about the land for my father’s grave and secret funds meant for widows,” she said.

Last Friday, Delhi High Court had refused to stay the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate against Mehbooba. The court, however, issued a notice to the ED and Centre.

A division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh asked Mehbooba’s counsel and government advocates to file their legal notes in the case. The case was adjourned till April 16. 

On March 10, Mehbooba had got temporary relief after Delhi High Court stayed the summons of the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.

Earlier, the former chief minister had challenged the validity of the summons and asked the court to quash the summons.

In her petition, Mehbooba said she had not been informed if she is being summoned as an accused or as a witness.

“The petitioner is not the subject of investigation, nor is she an accused, in any of the scheduled offences to the best of her knowledge,” the petition said.

She alleged that since her release from preventive detention following the abrogation of Article 370, “there have been a series of hostile acts by the state, against her, acquaintances and old family friends, who have all been summoned by the ED…”

Earlier in December 2020, Mehbooba had written a letter to the Director of the ED, claiming that various persons from Kashmir related to her were summoned by the agency.

“The only common thread connecting these persons appears to be that they are all acquainted with me, my family, or my politics in one way or another. The questioning of these persons is also focused on me, my personal, political, and financial affairs, my late father’s grave and memorial, my sister’s finances, home constructions, my brother’s finances, and personal affairs, etc,” she had said in the letter.

Mehbooba was among three former chief ministers including Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, who were detained under Public Safety Act after the Centre abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019. 

She was released in October 2020. However, she has vowed to fight for the restoration of the special status. She is one of the founding members of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a five-party conglomerate formed to fight for the restoration of Article 370.

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