Pilot’s Rajasthan Rebellion Triggers A Srinagar Storm

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by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: In an interesting political drama unfolding in India’s wildlife-rich state of Rajasthan, Kashmir made its entry on Monday when Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel suggested a link between release of Omar Abdullah in Kashmir and rebellion of Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan.

Sachin Pilot

The politics heated up when Baghel, a congress chief minister in an interview to a newspaper dragged Omar in the controversy and raised doubt over Omar’s release speculating how PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was booked under the same sections, was still under detention.

“As far as Sachin Pilot is concerned, not that I have been tracking the Rajasthan events so closely, but it does make one curious why Omar Abdullah was released,” Baghel was quoted saying. “He and Mehbooba Muftiji were booked under the same Sections of the law, while she is still languishing, he is out. Is it because Mr. Abdullah is the brother-in-law of Sachin Pilot.”

Ruffling feathers in an apparent silent political stage of Kashmir, National Conference of which Omar is incumbent vice president reacted and rejected the assertions as “false and politically-motivated” and threatened legal action against him.

Interestingly in a hurried reaction to the Chhattisgarh CM, NC in its first statement made some “mistakes”. As pointed by Omar himself, the statement was pulled down only to be issued afresh. “I’m pulling the statement down. We made certain mistakes in the party statement which i cleared. A fresh statement will be put up in a few minutes,” he said in a tweet.

Moments later, the statement issued rejected accusations and strong objections were expressed. “Mr Baghel has maliciously suggested that the release of our vice president Mr Omar Abdullah from preventive detention was somehow related to Mr Sachin Pilot or the present situation unravelling in Rajasthan,” read the statement. The party alleged that this has been used for “convenient political posturing.”

Sara Abdulah Pilot fought Omar’s case in the Supreme Court

Terming it as “defamatory” to the reputation of Omar, the NC in its statement said, “it is within the province of public knowledge that the release of Mr Omar Abdullah happened after judicial intervention was sought from the Supreme Court and the illegal detention was challenged.”

“Given the indefensible nature of the illegal detention order the same was revoked by the government during the course of the proceedings before the Supreme court.”

The party has said the matter would be taken to the court. “We have taken cognizance of the libelous statement of Mr Baghel and we are presently in the process of consulting our lawyers and shall be initiating appropriate legal action against the aforesaid statement.”

Along with the formal rebuttal of the party, Omar tweeted his reaction terming it as “false allegation” and threatened to sue Baghel. “I am fed up of the downright malicious and false allegation that what Sachin Pilot is doing is somehow linked to my or my father’s release from detention earlier this year. Enough is enough. Mr Bhupesh Baghel will be hearing from my lawyers.”

Responding to the tweet of Omar, Baghel refused to back down and retorted, “Please do not try to turn this tragic demise of democracy into an opportune moment Omar Abdullah ji. The ‘allegation’ was only a question asked, and we will keep asking it, as will the country.”

Lamenting the way of Congress, Omar shot back, “You can send your answer to my lawyers. This is what is wrong with the Congress today, you don’t know your friends from your opponents. This is why you people are in the mess you are in. Your ‘question’ was malicious and will not go uncontested.”

Congress Crisis

Born in Saharanpur Uttar Pradesh, 42-year-old Sachin is the son of the late Rajesh pilot. A trained army officer, he is famously known as Lieutenant Pilot. Holding a post of deputy chief minister and Pradesh congress committee chief till the recent past, he was sacked by the party high command after he started a rebellion against chief minister Ashok Gehlot. He has claimed to have the support of over 30 MLAs but ruled out joining BJP. While talking about the possibility of forming a “third front”, Sachin has two top lawyers to fight his case – Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General, and Harish Salve, who has represented India in big international cases. The Congress has fielded one of its sharpest legal experts, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Rajasthan Relation

Married to Sara Abdullah, Sachin Pilot is the youngest son-in-law of Dr Farooq Abdullah. Now known as Sara Abdullah Pilot, she married Sachin in 2004. The couple has two children, Aaran and Vehaan Pilot.

NC leader and former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah outside the gate of the Hari Niwas Palace after being set free after eight months.

Belonging to a Gujjar family in Rajasthan, the duo had met each other while pursuing higher education at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The relationship witnessed hurdles from the family as well as a party in Kashmir, but the duo decided to get married despite the situation surrounding their marriage.

Sara had once opened up the rough times on Simi Gariwal’s chat show. “I was a wreck half the time and Sachin had to pick up the pieces,” Sara confessed. On being asked as to how the Abdullahs were ultimately convinced, Sachin Pilot said simply: “That we were happy together.”

However, in 2014, there were rumours about their marital conflict.

Sara, a trained instructor in Hatha and Yoga was a petitioner to file a plea against her brother, Omar’s detention post-August 5, 2019.

Expressing happiness over the release of Farooq Abdullah in March 2020, Sachin took to Twitter, “Glad to hear the news of the release of Former CM #FarooqAbdullah ji. I hope that other former Chief Ministers detained in J&K are also released soon.”

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