J&K ‘custody’ death: More allegations against Omar

Srinagar: The main eyewitness in the alleged custodial death case of National Conference member Syed Mohammed Yousuf Shah has made fresh allegations against J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq.
Syed Mohammed Yousuf Shah died while in police custody early on Friday morning. He was handed over to the Crime Branch by Mr Abdullah for allegedly promising two party members senior positions in the government in exchange for huge amounts of money. An initial post-mortem report says Mr Shah probably died of a cardio-respiratory arrest or heart attack. It said there were no visible external injuries.
On the day Mr Abdullah handed over Mr Shah to police, Salaam Reshi was present at the Chief Minister’s residence. Mr Reshi has admitted that he gave Rs 34 lakhs to Mr Shah to become a legislative council member. Giving an account of what happened that day, Reshi said Shah was very unwell when the police was taking him away. “When I saw him in the Gypsy, Yousuf’s condition was quite critical. He was vomiting blood. I saw it with my own eyes,” he has said.
Mr Reshi has also claimed that Mr Shah told him that Mr Abdullah and his father Farooq were aware of the money deals. “Two and a half months ago, when I first told the Chief Minister about this, he could have handed over Yousuf then. The matter would have been sorted out there and then. Why did these events unfold after two and a half months? When I gave Yousuf the money, I asked him if Omar Abdullah knew about this. He said yes. When I met Omar, he asked me, why did you give the money? I told Omar Abdullah I only gave Yousuf the money as I was introduced to you by him. Yousuf even introduced me to Farooq Abdullah. I said I gave him the money as he was a close associate of yours.”
These allegations made by Mr Reshi threaten to turn the controversy over the death of the alleged political fixer into a major crisis for the Omar Abdullah government. The main Opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir – the PDP – has already demanded his resignation. “There are allegations that he (Omar Abdullah) manhandled the person. The Chief Minister has acted as judge and jury,” PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has said.
The Chief Minister, in his defense, says he acted as responsibly as he was expected to. Rubbishing PDP’s allegations, he said, “No one asked for this inquiry, we acted suo motu… I have requested the Chief Justice that it should be done by a sitting judge of the High Court. If we had anything to hide, we would not have ordered a judicial enquiry by a High Court judge.” The decision to set up a judicial probe has been condemned by Mr Abdullah’s critics as a move to buy time.


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