CBI files chargesheet against Farooq Abdullah, three others in 38-crore Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association scam

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday filed a chargesheet against former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and three others for involvement in an alleged 38-crore scam. Abdullah, the president of the National Conference (NC) and the others named in the chargesheet have been accused of misappropriating funds received by the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) from Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to build sports infrastructure and organise cricket matches.

Farooq Abdullah
File image of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah. Reuters
The chargesheet was filed against Abdullah, who served as the president of JKCA, former association general secretary Saleem Khan, treasurer Ahsan Mirza and Jammu and Kashmir Bank executive Bashir Ahmed before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Srinagar. SS Kishore, Superintendent of Police, CBI, said the chargesheet was filed against Abdullah and three others and the court has “accepted it.” He said the CBI will also file the list of “supporting documents of the chargesheet” on Tuesday.

Earlier, officials said the CBI issued the summons to Abdullah and other accused and asked them to answer the charges before the court on Monday. However, Abdullah was not present as he is on a family trip to the United Kingdom. The CBI began its probe in September 2015 on the directions of the high court. Earlier, CBI officials recorded the statement of the accused and the complainant, former JKCA chairman Mohammad Aslam Goni.

According to the CBI, Farooq and the other accused swindled Rs 38 crore by opening an account in the Khanyar branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and siphoned off money which was to be spent on building cricket infrastructure. The investigation by the central agency found that it was on the basis of an authorisation letter from the former chief minister that an account was opened in the Khanyar branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and the money parked there was not “reflected in the balance sheet of the JKCA.”

Goni filed a plaint with the police after he got wind of the alleged scam, following which a case was registered. Goni, who was very close to Abdullah, resigned as the chairman of the JKCA and snapped ties with Farooq. After their differences, Goni also resigned from the NC and joined the Congress. Goni said Abdullah wanted to shift the entire blame onto him and even asked him to “take moral responsibility as the chairman of the JKCA.”

“It was was due to this that I developed differences with Farooq and dissociated from the JKCA,” said Goni, adding that in his statement to the CBI earlier, he “informed the investigating agency that the money which was coming from BCCI for building sports infrastructure and the organising the matches was being swindled.” The case was being handled by the CBI officials from Delhi since it involved a multi-state investigation. Goni said BCCI funds meant for building the two international cricket stadiums in Srinagar and Jammu were parked in the account of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s Khanyar branch and were not “reflected in the annual balance sheets.”

The JKCA earlier decided to create infrastructure for at least 27,000 spectators to watch matches in Srinagar in one of the stadiums in Kashmir while 550 kanal of land was also transferred to the sporting body at Bajalta in Jammu to build a stadium. However, the money that was meant for raising the sports infrastructure was allegedly siphoned off by the accused. The BCCI was reimbursing around Rs 50 crore for building one stadium and besides that “it would provide a subsidy amount of Rs 5 to 6 crore annually” to hold the cricket tournaments. “Part of that fund was swindled,” a former JKCA official alleged. Mirza’s counsel Bashir Ahmad Bashir said, “We will contest the charges.”

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