Jammu and Kashmir leader and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah was questioned by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday for alleged irregularities in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association.

Abdullah was summoned to the ED office in Srinagar’s Raj Bagh for questioning. Abdullah was the president of the JKCA between 2001 and 2011 when the alleged financial irregularities took place.

Reacting to the summons by the ED, the opposition parties have described it a “witch hunt” and “political vendetta” by the Modi government at the centre.

Former CM Omar Abdullah, who is the son of Farooq Abdullah, in a tweet, described the ED action as “nothing less than political vendetta coming days after the formation of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration”. The party will be responding to this ED summons shortly, he added.

It is learnt that Abdullah was served the summons in the morning and he appeared before the investigators in the ED office. His statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, reports said.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti too sharply reacted to these developments by tweeting; “ED’s sudden summon to Farooq sahab displays the extent of GOIs nervousness about mainstream parties in J&K fighting as one unit. Also reeks of political vendetta & wont in the least blunt our collective resolve to fight for our rights”.

Peoples Conference leader, Sajad Lone, who is also part of the newly formed alliance, tweeted; “What a sorry state of affairs. Dr. Farooq sahib summoned by ED. Reeks of vendetta. Contrary to what they want coercively achieve this will certainly have the opposite impact.

The ED came into the picture when CBI was investigating the money-laundering allegations connected to the J&K cricket body. The CBI had filed a charge sheet against National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and three other for alleged misappropriation of funds worth Rs 43.69 crores between 2002-2011.

The National Conference has linked the questioning of senior leader Farooq Abdullah to the move of bringing all the Jammu and Kashmir parties in a campaign for restoring special status.

The spokesperson of the party said, “The letter from the Enforcement Directorate came after the Gupkar declaration. It is clear political vendetta after the ‘People’s Alliance’ was formed in Kashmir.”

The party also said that the central government was using ‘its agencies to fight new political formation’ as it ‘could not fight politically’.

The National Conference spokesperson said, “We knew it was coming.”

The 82-year-old politician was summoned by the agency last before August 5, when the central government abrogated Article 370 and divided it into two union territories.

The National Conference also questioned the timing of the investigation. “His previous summons were just before August 5 last year (when J&K’s special status was abrogated)  and today’s summon comes within days of forming the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration of which Dr Farooq Abdullah has taken a lead,” the statement added. “Dr Farooq Abdullah continues to maintain his innocence and will cooperate with the authorities in what is nothing but a witch hunt.”

Meanwhile, reports claimed that the ED summoned him for questioning after taking cognizance of a FIR filed by the CBI in the case in July last year. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) granted Rs. 112 crore to the JKCA between 2002 and 2011 to develop the sport. The CBI had alleged that around Rs 43 crore of this amount was siphoned off. The CBI took over the case from the state’s vigilance department in 2015 following an order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP’s chief Mehbooba Mufti were among many politicians who were detained on August 5. The leaders were charged under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). While National Conference leaders were released earlier this year, Mehbooba Mufti was freed on October 16.