JKNC suffers ‘curse of Umrah’

Day after party president Dr Farooq Abdullah performs ‘Umrah’, cracks appear in the party as senior leaders scuffle over NIA action on terrorist

SRINAGAR | Updated: 07 March, 2023 7:54 pm IST
JKNC leaders Ali Mohammad Sagar and Peer Afaq

The ‘curse of Umrah’ appears to have returned to haunt the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC).

A day after party president and former J&K Chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah performed Umrah in Saudi Arabia, high drama gripped the party headquarters in Srinagar.

Cracks appear in the party after senior leaders, party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and district president Peer Afaq, were involved in a scuffle in presence of other senior leaders of the party at the office of the former.

As per highly place sources in the party, the scuffle followed Sagar’s criticism of NIA action on sealing the property of dreaded terrorist Mushtaq Zagar alias Latram last week in Srinagar.

While speaking to the local media channel earlier, Sagar had remarked that the property of Zargar actually belongs to his brothers and that the family should approach the court for relief. Sagar hinted that the NIA action was not in complete accordance with the law.

ALSO READ: Past weigh heavy as Dr Abdullah performs Umrah

Sagar’s comments infuriated Peer Afaq, who lambasted Sagar for siding with the terrorist’s family. Afaq also questioned Sagar’s motives behind this statement.

“It is really unfortunate that a leader of such stature came out in support of a dreaded terrorist who has killed hundreds of our workers,” Afaq further said.

“How do we deal with the families of our workers who were killed at Zargar’s request?” Afaq questioned Sagar. “Sitting on a high chair in the party office and issuing such irresponsible statements are a great insult not only to the families of our workers but also to the party itself,” Afaq added.

In his defence, Sagar said he wasn’t defending Zargar but Zargar’s family. His comments further enraged Afaq, who shouted back, asking, “What will we say to the families of those nationalists who were brutally murdered by the dreaded terrorist Zargar and his men in the 1990s?”

“Who will answer the families of our workers who have lost their loved ones?” Afaq further asked. He also told Sagar that he would lodge an FIR against him for making such anti-national remarks.

At this point, a minor scuffle broke out between the two senior leaders. Senior leaders Nasir Aslam Wani, Peer Hussain and Ali Mohd Dar, who were present the entire time in the room and witnessed the quarrel, immediately intervened and later pacified Afaq.

Afaq’s father, Peer Mohd Shafi, was also a senior leader and MLA of the National Conference. He was gunned down by men belonging to the terror organisation of Zargar (Al Umar) on October 15, 1990.

Historically, for the Abdullahs, the trip to the holy city of Mecca had been turbulent politically. Dr Abdullah’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who was the first Prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested from Palam Airport upon his return from the Haj pilgrimage on May 8, 1965, for meeting the then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in Algeria on his return.

Dr Abdullah’s son, Omar Abdullah, then the Chief minister of J&K, visited Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah in April 2009. Barely a month after, his government was rocked after protests broke out in South Kashmir over the drowning of two women who were allegedly raped and murdered.

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