Senior opposition leader and former deputy chief minster, Muzaffar Hussain Baig poses ten questions to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. As told to IKHLAQ QADRI, the questions revolve around the death of a close aide to the Abdullah family—Syed Muhammad Yousuf.
A number of questions arise with respect to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Syed Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah). These questions are based not on speculation but on materials already in public domain.
The following questions, Baig says need to be answered and can be answered only by the Chief Minister.
1. According to Chief Minister’s statement, two individuals lodged a complaint before him in his Legislative Assembly Complex chamber on September 29th, 2011. Salam Reshi says he had not lodged any complaint on September 29th, 2011, but has done so about two and half months ago. The complaint lodged by Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, CM’s representative in Ganderbal and Abdul Salam Reshi, NC activist from Kokernag disclosed that Muhammad Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah), the deceased, had collected an amount of Rs. 71 lakh (pehla bayan) from Muhammad Yousuf Bhat which amount was taken as the NC party fund which was to be given/ was given to Dr Farooq Abdullah. Muhammad Yousuf Bhat would be made MLC and then minister of state R&B.
Reshi had paid an amount of 34 lakh to be given to Dr Farooq Abdullah on the promise that Reshi would be inducted as the member in the legislative council of the state.
Why did Omar Abdullah not immediately call the competent authority of the Police Department when Salam Reshi made a complaint to him about two and half months ago? Further, why did he not refer the complaint lodged before him on September 29th, 2011 itself to police for investigation?
It was the Chief Minister’s duty to report the commission of any crime, both in his capacity as a Chief Minister/Home Minister as well as in his capacity as a citizen.
According to provisions of the Criminal Procedure Court, if any citizen comes to know facts which disclose the commission of an offence of illegal gratification, he must immediately report it to the police. Failure to do so by itself constitutes a crime. Omar Abdullah, by failing to do it, has committed dereliction of duty as a Chief Minister /Home Minister and a crime by omission to report in terms of the provisions of criminal procedure court.
2. Chief Minister called all the above named three individuals to his residence. According to the disclosure made by the Chief Minister in his aforesaid statement, he interrogated the above named three people including the deceased. The Chief Minister states that after initial denial, Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) admitted that he had received the stated amount from the two complainants and that it was taken as a party fund.
According to Omar Abdullah, Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) asked for one and half months time to return the money to complainant. According to Reshi, the deceased said, “Let Dr Farooq Abdullah come, as only then this money could be returned.” Omar Abdullah claims that he could not trust Yousuf to do so. Therefore, he demanded that Yousuf (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) the deceased should handover property documents as collateral for the payment for the money collected by him from the complainant. Omar Abdullah states that when this demand was not accepted by Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) the deceased, he then called IG,Crime Branch to investigate the matter and the IG took all these three persons away.
Do these facts not clearly establish that Chief Minister had no intention to refer this matter to police for investigation and that he would not have referred the matter to police if Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) had returned the money or offered property documents as collateral? Reshi claims that part of the money has been paid to him. Do these facts not further establish that Omar Abdullah wanted to settle this matter in private at his residence, because essentially it involved his father and his most trusted political workers? Does it also not establish the fact that if the deceased had furnished his property papers,this matter would not have been referred to the police? In that scenario, Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) would not have died and Farooq Abdullah’s name would not have been exposed to the public as an alleged recipient of about 1.5 or 1.18 Crores as illegal gratification from his own two party men through Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) the deceased?
3.Is it proper or legal for the Chief Minister to take the law into his own hands and interrogate suspected criminals or witnesses of a crime in the absence of competent police officer?
Did Dr Farooq Abdullah not exceed his jurisdiction and abuse his power by trying to hush up the matter as a private, family and party affair?
4. The Chief Minister had claimed that Yousuf (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) the deceased left his residence in the same condition in which he entered it. But the IGP Crime claims that when he was called in, Yousuf (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) the deceased complained of pain, nausea and dizziness. Salam Reshi states that after the deceased left CM’s residence he was in a very bad condition and has vomited blood. Something awful happened at Chief Minister’s residence that made Yousuf (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) physically unwell.
According to official press note of September 30th, Yousuf’s condition was so bad that an ambulance and a doctor had to be called. By making the statement, the IGPhas clearly conveyed an impression to public that the bad physical condition of Yousuf (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) had occurred before he took him in custody.
What resulted in this sick condition of Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) has to be seen in the light of the fact that he transferred his three trusted bodyguards immediately after this incident. Does it not convey an impression that these officers of his security staff might have engaged in some activity in Chief Minister’s residence leading to the bad physical condition of the Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah)? This inference is to be appreciated in the light of the fact that according to Salam Reshi who was an eyewitness, IG crime branch and some one from his security staff had taken Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) for interrogation in a separate room. The interrogation is alleged to have lasted for forty minutes after which Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah), when he was brought out from the interrogation room, didn’t talk because he couldn’t talk. Chief Minister hasn’t refuted either the statement of IG crime or of Salam Reshi nor has IG crime so far refuted the statement of Salam Reshi.
5. The government belatedly claims that FIR had been lodged u/s 420 RPC which is a case of cheating. Ironically the case of cheating is registered against the dead person and Dr Farooq Abdullah is not named as an accused. Even though as per the statement of the Chief Minister himself both Yousuf Shah(Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah), the deceased and Yousuf Bhat of Ganderbal had stated that this money was to be paid/ had been paid to Dr Farooq Abdullah. The official press note and press briefing by home commissioner states that the amount received by Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah) from Yousuf Bhat to be passed on to Dr. Farooq Abdullah was Rs 84 Lakh. The statement of Chief Minister was that it was Rs 71 lakh. Why was the name of Dr. Farooq Abdullah not arrayed as accused in the cheating case?
6. Omar Abdullah also states that he knows that Yousuf Bhat of Ganderbal had received an amount of Rs 55 Lakh from a toll contractor at Tangmarg and had received an amount Rs 5lakh from his own PSO. In the light of this allegation instead of putting both Yousuf Bhat and Salam Reshi in the dock why were both of them released in the morning of 30th of September. Was it intended to win them over so that Dr Farooq Abdullah can be spared from investigation?
7. Why did the Chief Minister not allow a debate or ask the speaker to allow the debate on this issue in the legislative assembly when the Chief Minister himself on October 3rd and Abdur Rahim Rather on October 2nd held press conferences on the same issue outside the house.
Does it not constitute a breach of privilege of the house which was in session and does it also not conclusively establish the fact that chief minister and his colleagues do not want a transparent discussion on the issue which would necessarily take place if PDP’s motion for adjournment had been accepted. Is it not an attempt of Omar Abdullah and his government to cover up the whole issue?
8. The Speaker, while rejecting PDP’s motion for discussion held that the matter was before judicial commission. An authority can said to have seized a matter only when the terms of reference are settled and the competent authority is in the process of investigation/adjudication.
In the present case, the subject matter of the discussion is not pending before any competent authority because the only thing that has happened is that the government has claimed that it has requested the chief justice of high court of J&K to appoint a sitting judge for inquiry. This request is itself illconceived and untenable in law because a sitting judge of any high court can enter into an enquiry only if so ordered by president of India on recommendation of supreme court of India. The non- discussion simply shows that NC leader and government officials do not want to be exposed to the public scrutiny for their involvement in this sordid affair that led to the death of Yousuf Shah (Syed Muhammad Yousuf Shah).
9. How can any enquiry be effective and impartial when CM, his deputy Sogami and his father Dr Farooq Abdullah are in power?
Will not public conclude that so long they are in power, they can destroy evidences, manufacture false evidence, bribe, coerce and blackmail witnesses?
10. Has Dr Farooq Abdullah not put the onus on CM, by stating that “I am not part of this”? In other words if something awful was done to deceased, he was not party to it?