An argument centring on BJP between Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti soon after their detention at Hari Niwas Palace last week allegedly got so nasty that the two former J&K chief ministers could no longer be housed in the same place, officials have revealed.
“Both were accusing each other of getting BJP into Jammu and Kashmir. At one point, Omar shouted at Mehbooba, taunting her and the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for aligning with BJP between 2015 and 2018,” an official of the hospitality and protocol department said on condition of anonymity.
Omar and Mehbooba, who had recently sparred on Twitter over the triple talaq bill's passage in Parliament, allegedly fired verbal volleys at each other within earshot of the staff at Hari Niwas Palace, a government guesthouse that used to be infamous as an interrogation centre for captured militants.
Mehbooba, the PDP chief, allegedly retaliated to NC vice-president Omar's barb with one of her own. "She reminded Omar that his father Farooq Abdullah had an alliance with BJP under Atal Behari Vajpayee. She told him loudly, 'You were even junior minister for external affairs in the Vajpayee government',” the official said.
She allegedly went on to blame Omar's grandfather Sheikh Abdullah for J&K's accession to India in 1947.
As the squabble continued, the administration decided it would be best to separate them, the official said.
Omar was shifted to what he described as "a splendid hut" owned and maintained by the forest department in Chesmashahi, at the foot of Mahadev Peak. Mehbooba remains at Hari Niwas Palace, adjoining the majestic Fairview bungalow on Gupkar Road that has been her official residence for several years.
Till the argument between the two allegedly got personal, Omar had been occupying a portion of the ground floor at Hari Niwas while Mehbooba stayed on the first floor.
The official said the former CMs, among the 100-odd leaders of mainstream political parties detained before the bill to nullify Article 370 was tabled in Parliament, were being provided food "in accordance with the jail manual and their status".
A protocol officer said Mehbooba had asked for brown bread but it couldn't be provided because no such item was on the "jail menu" even for VVIP detainees.