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NC worker's death: Uproar in J&K assembly; Omar clarifies

Last updated on: October 3, 2011 17:02 IST

NC worker's death: Uproar in J&K assembly; Omar clarifies

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar

Pandemonium hit the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly on Monday again as the speaker disallowed an adjournment motion moved by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party seeking a discussion on the alleged custodial death of a ruling National Conference worker in Srinagar last week.

As Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone refused to allow the motion, angry PDP members were on their feet leading to an acrimonious exchange between Lone and PDP veteran and prominent Shia leader, Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.

With inputs from PTI

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Image: Pandemonium in J&K assembly over NC worker's death on Monday
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Ruckus in J&K assembly

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At one point the speaker exchanged heated words with Ansari who even tried to hurl a pedestal fan. The PDP members uprooted the desk mikes and tore the house business papers.

The ruckus forced the speaker to adjourn the house for half an hour.

However, as the house met again, the speaker had to adjourn it as pandemonium prevailed.


Image: Pandemonium in J&K assembly over NC worker's death on Monday
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Fair probe not possible while NC in power: Mehbooba

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After the second adjournment, when the house assembled again, the speaker expressed regret over his remarks and ordered expunging of the controversial remarks.

Talking to mediapersons, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that 'the finger of suspicion pointed towards Omar Abdullah, his father and minister of state for home.'

"A fair probe is not possible while they are in power."


Image: Pandemonium in J&K assembly over NC worker's death on Monday
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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'No hesitation in facing judicial probe'

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In a hurriedly convened media conference in the assembly lawns, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he has "no hesitation" in presenting himself before a judicial inquiry that is to go into the death of a National Conference worker allegedly in police custody.

Omar said that the allegations about his involvement in the incident were "baseless and wild". Referring to the allegations levelled by PDP president against him and his father Farooq Abdullah, he said, "I will not respond personally or through the media. I'm consulting my lawyers to respond in the form of defamation notice which will be taken to its logical conclusion."

Syed Mohammad Yousuf, a NC worker from south Kashmir's Anantnag district, died on September 29 allegedly in police custody after two fellow party workers had accused him of taking Rs 1.18 crore from them for getting them berths in the Legislative Council.

Rejecting the allegations of Opposition PDP, Omar said he
had full faith in the judicial inquiry. "All I will say is that I have absolute, total and complete faith in the process of judicial inquiry. I am awaiting very keenly the establishment of this commission," he said.

"I will answer whatever questions are put to me and I have no doubt that as a result of this judicial inquiry, the facts will speak for themselves and all the lies that I have been bombarded with will be shown what they are," he said.

Rejecting PDP allegations that he was in any way involved in the death of Yousuf, Omar said he remained silent about the incident so far as he was accused of prejudging an inquiry ordered by the government in an earlier case.

"Cautiously, I remained silent because in the previous case, where in good faith, I shared preliminary information with media, at that time, I was accused of having prejudiced an inquiry that the government had ordered," he said.


Image: CM Omar Abdullah speaks to mediapersons in the assembly premises later on Monday
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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'Facts must be allowed to speak for themselves'

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Referring to the incident, he said two NC workers came to see him last week, levelling allegations of extremely serious nature against a third worker.

"In the interest of transparency and fair play, I decided to call all the three together. I also called the Minister of State for Home to be present there, realising the criminal nature of the allegations," he said.

Omar said he immediately referred the matter to the crime branch of the state police and asked it to proceed in the matter on the basis of facts that it would ascertain as a result of its investigation.

"What followed after that was the death of Yousuf which
was extremely unfortunate but what has been even more unfortunate than that is the way in which facts have been twisted, distorted and presented in a completely unrelated manner to the actual facts of the case," Omar said.

The chief minister said instead of appreciating "suo motu" action against an individual accused of corruption, accusatory fingers were being pointed towards him and his colleagues.

"It has somehow been suggested that I or colleagues of mine are involved in criminal activity to the extent that certain supposedly responsible political leaders have gone so far as to suggest that I could be possibly involved in a case of murder," he said.

Omar said he would not have ordered a judicial inquiry by a sitting high court judge if that had been the case. "Fact of the matter is I acted responsibly as I was expected to. While it is very easy to make assumptions and level allegations, the facts must be allowed to speak for themselves," he said.

The chief minister said it was beyond his comprehension as to how the political leadership and certain sections of media were levelling allegations that the deceased had been tortured in the absence of a postmortem report.

"Without recourse to the postmortem report how it is possible for either political leadership of the state or sections of media to determine that the deceased was tortured. This is beyond my comprehension," he said.

"If in any way, such allegations of torture are substantiated by either the preliminary or the final postmortem report, somebody will be held accountable for that," he said.

Omar said in the absence of the postmortem report to level such "wild and unsubstantiated" allegations against him or any of his colleagues "is unfortunate".

Promising to make the finding of the judicial inquiry public, Omar requested the media to report only facts about the case. "Do not editorialise or distort the facts. No effort has been spared to ensure that the truth is known. The findings of the judicial inquiry will be made public," he said.


Image: CM Omar Abdullah speaks to mediapersons in the assembly premises later on Monday
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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