'Shocked' Azad backs Omar Abdullah, says 'curious' to know names of 'paid ministers'

New Delhi/Srinagar, Sept. 24 (ANI): Saying that he was 'shocked' by former army chief General V.K. Singh's statement of the army 'paying ministers' in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday that, "I was also CM for two and a half years, but I never came to know. ... If I did not come to know, how will the present Chief Minister or the earlier Chief Minister get to know this?"

"These statements are not going to bring any stability, but I was myself shocked because I watched that interview yesterday. So, I was shocked to know this because I have myself been the Chief Minister, and I must say that I have no clue and had no clue at that point of time that such things are happening in the state," he said.

"I have no knowledge about it. I am as curious as you are to know about the names of the persons who were being paid and are being paid," he added.

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal accused General (Retd.) V.K. Singh of covering up his own faults, by making the allegations that the Army funded political parties in the state.

"He is trying to hide behind the smokescreen now that there are revelations on his conduct," Kamal said.

Earlier today, Chairperson of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Farooq Abdullah demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation-level probe into the allegations made by General (Retd.) V.K. Singh that the Indian Army was funding political parties.

Earlier former chief of army staff General V. K. Singh disclosed that money from a secret army fund was given to some ministers in the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, but only for social schemes.

General Singh told television channels, including CNN-IBN and Times Now, that the money was given as part of Operation Sadbhavna schemes carried out by the army.

He said it was given to only to stabilise areas affected by terror, as well as the areas across the border.

General Singh had earlier stated that certain ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet were given these amounts from time to time, which prompted the state government and the Union Home Ministry to ask him on Tuesday to name the ministers who were paid the money.

Earlier today, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said V K Singh should name the ministers to whom money had been given from a secret defence fund for social schemes.

"He should name the ministers to whom money has been given. We can probe if details are given," Shinde told the media here.

Meanwhile, General Singh has filed an RTI application seeking a copy of the Army probe report which reportedly questions the functioning of a unit set up by him for human intelligence gathering. (ANI)

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