by Minhaj Masoodi
SRINAGAR: Satya Pal Malik, the governor of Meghalaya is no stranger to controversies. He has always invoked Kashmir to stay in news after his unceremonious ouster as Jammu and Kashmir governor. Two days earlier, he had alleged that the father-son duo of Farooq and Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti was allegedly the beneficiaries in the controversial Roshini Scam.
In a video clip that has gone viral within and outside Kashmir, Malik was seen claiming that the National Conference president and his son as well as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti had gotten plots under the scheme.
A Rs 300 Cr Bribe?
Not this alone, Malik, even claimed that he was told he would get Rs 300-crore bribe if he cleared two files belonging to Ambani and an “RSS-affiliated man” during his tenure. He claimed he cancelled the deals after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“After going to Kashmir, two files came to me (for clearance), one belonging to Ambani and another to an RSS-affiliated man who was a minister in the previous Mehbooba Mufti-led (PDP-BJP coalition) government and claimed to be very close to the prime minister,” Malik is heard saying at an event in Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan). “I was informed by secretaries in both the departments that there is a scandal involved and I accordingly cancelled both the deals. The secretaries told me that ‘you will get Rs 150 crore each for clearing the files’ but I told them that I have come with five kurta-pajamas and will leave with that only.”
In his speech, Malik dubbed Kashmir as “the most corrupt place in the country”, where 15 per cent commission is demanded against the national average of “four to five per cent commission.”
This time, also, he did not forget to talk about his personal belongings. “I do not have any worry that I have no house,” he said.
Mehbooba Sends Notice
This time, however, he has faced a serious response.
Mehbooba Mufti while sharing the video clip on her Twitter wrote: “False & unsavoury utterances of Satya Pal Malik about me being a beneficiary of Roshni Act is highly mischievous. My legal team is preparing to sue him. He has the option to withdraw his comments failing which I will pursue legal recourse.”
Later, the PDP president sent a Rs 10 crore legal defamation notice through her lawyer asking him to pay the damages for causing a loss of reputation.
“By conducting yourself as an Ex-Governor of J&K State and making utterances about the benefit being taken by my client under the Roshini Act, which are not only false and incorrect, you have defamed my client and have levelled scandalous and serious allegations against her with the sole objective of tarnishing her otherwise politically neat and clean image,” the copy of the notice read. “By making such false utterances, you have tarnished the image of my client and have defamed and lowered her reputation in the estimation of public.”
‘By virtue of this legal notice, I, therefore, call upon you to pay compensatory damages to my client (Mehbooba) to the extent of Rs 10 crores within 30 days of receipt of this legal notice. (This amount of damages/compensation is not supposed to be used by my client for her personal gains/benefits but shall be donated/utilized for public good),” the notice read.
NC President’s Response
Dr Farooq Abdullah rejected the allegations as “lies”. “First he lied to us that Article 370 will not be scrapped. It will continue,” Dr Abdullah told his party workers. “Later he said that the prime minister had told him that only Article 35-A will be removed, and not Article 370. He tells lies.” He said that lies are being spread all over the country, including in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh slammed the BJP government at the centre over what he called its “cold criminal silence” in the matter. He said that “business tycoons and political syndicates” who had attempted to bribe the governor have been allowed to go without holding them to account.
“The fate of the files for which Rs 150 crore each was offered to the then governor should be made known to the public as Malik was relieved from Jammu and Kashmir shortly thereafter,” Singh said in a statement.