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I did not pay money to either Abdullah: NC worker


Srinagar : A National Conference worker, who alleged having paid Rs.85 lakh to get himself a legislative council berth, broke his silence Friday and denied the payoff was made either to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah or his father, Dr. Farooq Abdullah.

Muhammad Yusuf Bhat, a party block president, had been living out of the media glare ever since he complained to Omar Abdullah Sep 29 that another NC worker, Sayeed Muhammad Yousuf, who died in mysterious circumstances the next day, had taken the money from him. Yousuf was also present at that meeting.

According to the local news agency KNS, Bhat, speaking at his guarded residence at Rapore village in Ganderbal district, said: “I paid money to Sayeed Yousuf, but I can’t say it was for Omar Abdullah or Dr. Farooq. It is a fact I paid money to Sayeed Yousuf for getting MLC (member of legislative council) berth.”

Asked to comment on the allegations of another NC worker, Abdul Salam Rishi, who told media that Yousuf had told the chief minister that the money had been paid to Dr. Farooq, Bhat said: “I cannot comment on what Salam Rishi said. But, I did not pay money to either Omar Abdullah or Dr. Farooq Abdullah.”

According to the news agency, Bhat declined to comment on what happened at the chief minister’s residence on Sep 29 where he had been summoned along with Yousuf and Rishi.

“I will say what I have to say before the judicial commission. The people know the truth,” he said.

He also told the news agency that he had served the NC for the last 35 years and the party owed Omar Abdullah’s 2008 electoral victory from Ganderbal constituency to him.

“I made promises to the people of Ganderbal which the NC government has not kept,” KNS quoted him saying.

Rishi had alleged that the slain NC worker had told the chief minister that Rs.85 lakh taken from Bhat had been paid to Dr. Farooq Abdullah. In response, Omar Abdullah has blamed the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of Rishi to level allegations against him and his father.

Bhat had been refusing to entertain any media request to interview him for the last seven days after he was released by the state crime branch.

The interview to the local news agency Friday appears to be his first statement to the media ever since a huge controversy emerged here over Yousuf’s death.