PDP stages protest march in Srinagar, demands Omar quit

October 5th, 2011 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Oct 5 (IANS) The custodial death of a member of the ruling National Conference (NC) in Jammu and Kashmir snowballed Wednesday with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) staging a loud protest march here.

Alleging Sayeed Muhammad Yousuf was killed in police custody Sep 30, some 300 activists of the opposition PDP covered nearly a kilometre before the police prevented them from reaching the NC headquarters.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who led the march, said no one was safe in the state and the needle of suspicion in Yousuf’s death pointed at Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his junior colleague in the council of ministers.

Mufti led the march from the party headquarters, raising slogans such as “Katilon Ko Pesh Karo”. The death of Yousuf, who was said to be close to the chief minister and his father, has raised a storm in the state.

Senior PDP leaders Tariq Hamid Karra, Dilawar Mir and Nizam-ud-Din Bhat were part of the procession, which security forces intercepted at Regal Chowk, 300 metres from the city centre Lal Chowk.

“To ensure a fair probe into the death of the National Conference worker, Omar Abdullah must step down,” Mehbooba Mufti told reporters. “Otherwise the probe would be nothing more than an eyewash.”

Police used batons to disperse the marchers.

The PDP stalled the proceedings of the state assembly for two days, demanding a discussion on Yousuf’s custodial death.

Assembly speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone disallowed a discussion and adjourned the assembly sine die Tuesday as was previously scheduled.

Omar Abdullah said Monday that National Conference workers Muhammad Yusuf Bhat of Ganderbal and Abdul Salam Rishi of Anantnag district had called on him Sep 29 levelling serious allegations of corruption against Yousuf.

“Recognizing the serious nature of the allegations, I asked Nasir Aslam Wani, the minister of state for home, to call all three to find out the truth,” Omar said.

According to the chief minister, the trio was handed over to the Crime Branch after Yousuf accepted that he took Rs.1.18 crore from Bhat and Rishi for getting them a legislator’s ticket and a ministerial berth.

Yousuf died in a police hospital Sep 30. Critics and his family say he was killed because he knew “too many secrets” of Chief Minister Abdullah and his father and central cabinet minister Farooq Abdullah.

State Home Commissioner B.R. Sharma, Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda and Inspector General Raja Ajay Ali told the media Monday that the autopsy report of the deceased revealed he died of a heart attack.

The PDP has contested the official version and is demanding a fair probe.

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