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    Farooq Abdullah says 'can't even kiss my wife' because of pandemic


    Srinagar: The audience at a book-release function here on Sunday burst into laughter when National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said he had not kissed his wife since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The octogenarian leader, who was candid and witty in his nearly-35-minute speech, said one is even afraid of a handshake or a hug in the current situation.

    "I can't even kiss my wife. Who knows (what will happen). There is no question of a hug, though the heart wants it. I am sincere in my words," he said, leaving the audience in splits.

    A short video clip of his remarks has gone viral on social media.

    Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said that when his daughter sees photos of him not wearing a mask, she takes him to task on his return home.

    People today are afraid of handshakes and hugging each other as thousands are still dying on a daily basis in various parts of the world, Abdullah said.

    He said COVID-19 vaccines are now available and only time will tell about their efficacy, "but I am praying for their success so that the situation gets normal".

    On Sunday, India had rolled out the world's largest vaccination drive against COVID-19, which has so far infected 1,05,57,985 people in the country and killed 1,52,274 of them.

    Abdullah's remarks that he is 25 per cent Gujjar also triggered a bout of laughter among the audience, mostly belonging to the nomadic community. Abdullah's mother was from a Gujjar tribe.

    The well-attended function was organised by Gurjar Desh Charitable Trust to release the biography of its patron-in-chief Masud Ahmad Choudhary, a retired Additional Director General of Police and ex-vice chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (Rajouri).

    The book explores the life of Chaudhary, who is widely known as "Sir Syed" of Gujjar Community for his untiring efforts in areas of social and educational awakening, his contributions in the police department, in service of the Gujjar community and as an institution builder. (PTI)

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