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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Governor, Speaker shut eyes to CM’s Advisor
Axe falls on PB’s CEO in Delhi; Masoodi, Mubarak are holy cows in J&K

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Dec 11: One of the country’s most influential bureaucrats, CEO of Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation B S Lalli, is being fired on Monday for his indulgence in corruption. Over a dozen others, allegedly involved in some lately exposed scandals, have been already sacrificed for the sake of credibility of the democratic system and institutions. Powerful politicians, from Shashi Tharoor to Ashok Chavan to A Raja, have been laid on the altar. But officials like Lalli’s protégé and Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, and Chief Minister’s Advisor, Mubarak Gul, can comfortably escape with their escapades in the “special status state” of Jammu & Kashmir as long as they are favourites of politicians like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah.

Masoodi would have been handcuffed and jailed in any other Indian state for repeatedly playing patriotic songs on six Independence and Republic days in the last three years and making fresh payments each time to the Jammu-based producer D Kohli who, in turn, facilitated purchase of palatial houses for two senior officials of DDK Srinagar in Jammu. That, anyway, is just tip of an ice burg of the loot-and-scoot by Lalli’s men in Srinagar in the last three years.

In any other Indian state, (exceptions like Karnataka, apart), Gul would have been removed like a fly from the milk, no matter Chief Minister or Advisor to Chief Minister, on account of his breaching sanctity of the institution of Legislature. With or without a motion in the House, acclaimed custodians of the Constitution, like Governor Narender Nath Vohra, and Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, would have asserted without caring for the good humour of Chief Minister. Judiciary would have made an intervention and the Bar would have filed a PIL.

But, strife-ravaged Jammu & Kashmir has immunity for the individuals who have been making their own fortunes in the name of fighting an invasion from across the border. Here the Election Commission of India does not move beyond filing an FIR when President of the ruling party barges into a polling station alongwith 16 armed guards and prevents bona fide voters from exercise franchise. Judiciary and custodians of Constitution ignore scandals by refusing to take suo motto cognizance. Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Vigilance Organisation, State Vigilance Organisation and Central Information Commission are on oath not to act. Much hyped State Accountability Commission and State Information Commission exist only on papers in the “national interest”. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is Mr Nobody.

Who then would care for the scandals unearthed by the poor fourth estate?

Minister Natwar Singh was forced to end his political career when it became known that his son’s firm had attempted to get a petroleum contract in Iraq---then reeling under UN sanctions. Our own Mubarak Gul argues that he had just got himself empanelled as a “freelance producer” (private contractor), just appeared in the interview before DD’s Evaluation Committee, just got a drama serial of eight episodes allotted in favour of his business firm, Gulistan Productions, just submitted a script, but not signed any contract, not drawn any money and not executed the contract! By this argument, Section 307 (attempt to murder) should have dropped from Indian Penal Code.

If well placed sources in Mandi House are to be believed, Gul had managed to grab a project in DD Kashir commissioning even 10 years ago---that time in the name of his wife. He, however, appeared himself as Producer and Director of the serial before the Evaluation Committee and later put his own signatures wherever his spouse was supposed to put a thumb impression or signature. That time also (1996-2002) he was NC’s MLA from Iddgah.

During his young master Omar Abdullah’s times, Gul has excelled. He not only managed to grab a Dogri drama serial in the name of his son Younis Gul’s firm, Himalayan Communications, but also another for his own business firm, Gulistan Productions. As already reported, Younis Gul sought and got the government contract when he was working as NC’s elected and paid Councilor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation. DD Kashir’s Director, Ananya Banerjee, who, as DD’s PIO, has declared both Mubarak Gul and Younis Gul ineligible in her reply to the RTI petition (see box), has now allotted the frozen project to the junior Gul in her capacity as Director of DD Kashir. Shooting is currently underway in Jammu.

Advocate Sheikh Shakeel’s RTI petition, duly replied by DD, makes it unambiguously clear that Mr Mubarak Gul responded to DD Kashir notification for Empanelment of private producers, dated 30-11-2007, when he was NC’s MLA of Iddgah. He held the same constitutional position and status when he submitted his application in December 2007, when he was empanelled as “Private Producer” (contractor) on 1-7-2008, when he submitted his detailed proposal of the serial in February 2009 and when he appeared for an interview before DD’s Evaluation Committee on 23-06-2009.

MLA Gul had been further appointed as Advisor to J&K Chief Minister and held the superior status of a Cabinet Minister when his serial was approved by DD Kashir in September 2009. Holding the same status, he even submitted his script for the serial in the month of October 2009. However, his project was withdrawn and that of his son frozen, pending inquiry, when DD learned that the duo had suppressed information about their father-son relation and political status (Councilor and MLA) in their affidavits.

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, is unlikely to act--- obviously for fear of losing a resultant by-election in the summer capital. Sheikh Shakeel’s RTI revelations from Mandi House would, however, test the Governor’s and the Speaker’s conscience.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Mubarak Gul suppressed information; never revealed being MLA, CM’s Advisor: DD

DD Kashir withdrew Advisor’s allotment after ET expose but months later allotted frozen project to his son

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Dec 10: Scandalously operating Kashir Channel of Doordarshan has finally made it public that the ruling National Conference MLA from Iddgah and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Advisor, Mubarak Gul, as well as his son and NC’s Councilor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Younis Gul, had suppressed vital information with regard to their relation, political credentials and being public representatives while seeking contracts worth Rs 48 Lakh from the Government of India subsidiary in 2007-09 period.

In March this year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Advisor, Mubarak Gul, was visibly high spirited. He was heard telling everybody around that no amount of media exposure to his fraudulently secured DD Kashir project would affect his trade with the Government of India organisation. His confidence, according to sources, stemmed from the fact that Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Khursheed Ahmed Ganai, would manage to get the certificate of innocence in his favour from Mandi House. Gul’s sympathisers took pride in the fact that, DD’s Director General, Aruna Sharma, according to them, was Ganai’s IAS colleague and friend since early 1980s.

Panic gripped Civil Secretariat and Legislative Assembly, that was in session, when prominent television news channels of the country began picking up the Early Times series and playing Gul’s escapades. With the expert advice from Law Secretary and Advocate General, Ganai drafted a brief questionnaire and succeeded in getting desired replies from DD Kashir Senior Director, Ananya Banerjee. Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, is said to have played key role in getting the much needed “clarification” from Mandi House and thus misleading Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.

On March 4th, Mr Omar Abdullah was in New Delhi but all the CM’s men misled Legislative Assembly with Banerjee’s “clarification” in favour of the MLA holding the rank of a Cabinet Minister and functioning as NC’s Chief Whip in the House. Now, the same official, namely Ananya Banerjee, has revealed in her reply to Jammu-based advocate Sheikh Shakeel’s RTI petition that both, Mr Gul as well as his son, Younis Gul, had suppressed vital information in their affidavits and bagged two drama serials, worth Rs 48 Lakh, in violation of norms and guidelines of DD Kashir commissioning.

Ms Banerjee, who also happens to be DD Kashir’s PIO for RTI matters, has asserted in her replies that DD for the first time learnt about Mubarak Gul’s and Younis Gul’s father-son relationship and their membership of J&K Legislative Assembly/ Srinagar Municipal Corporation only when their allotments were challenged and these facts were highlighted in a writ petition in J&K High Court last year.

Guidelines of DD Kashir commissioning process of 2007-09, as still available on DD’s official website, make it clear that programmes could be allotted to bona fide producers but “NOT MORE THAN ONE MEMBER IN A FAMILY”.

In reply to Question Nos: 13, 15, 16 and 17, Banerjee confirms that DD Kashir programmes could not be commissioned to two dependent members of a particular family. She says: “At the time of presentation, DD authorities were not in know of the fact that Shri Mubarak Gul and Younis are dependent members of the same family”. She adds:  “The question of relaxing guidelines does not arise”. She makes it clear that Mubarak and Younis have suppressed the information of their relation in their affidavits.

“DD normally goes by the declaration in the affidavit. As per guidelines, dependent members of the same family are not eligible to submit more than one proposal. It is worth mentioning that dependent members include wife, unmarried sons/daughters”, Banerjee makes clear.

According to Ms Banerjee, Mr Mubarak Gul’s approved and allotted Kashmiri drama serial “Azla Lone” (8 episodes at Rs 3 Lakh each) was canceled and withdrawn after it became known that Mubarak and Younis were members of one family and both had served as MLA/Councilor respectively when they submitted their applications for empanelment in December 2007, when they were interviewed by DD’s Evaluation Committee in June-August 2009, when they submitted their programme proposals and when their proposals were approved for commissioning later in 2009.

Surprisingly, ever after her replies to the RTI petition in June 2010, Banerjee, as Sr Director of DD Kashir, has issued allotment of an 8-episode Dogri drama serial, titled “Alhar Golli Vir Sepoy” (at the rate of Rs 3 Lakh each episode) in favour of Mubarak Gul’s son, Younis Gul, whose guilt, according to her own replies to the RTI petition, was no different from that of his father.

[To be continued…]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bureaucrats misled Omar on Gul’s DD fraud

Principal Secretary managed favourable answers from Mandi House; RTI now exposes how MLAs, Councilors are barred in DD commissioning

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Dec 9: When Early Times published a series in March this year to unravel how politicians and bureaucrats were looting taxpayers’ money under the smokescreen of militancy in Jammu & Kashmir---most brazenly in Doordarshan’s Kashir Channel (DD Kashir)---Chief Minister’s Secretariat lost no time to establish that there was nothing wrong in Mr Mubarak Gul’s act of seeking two projects worth Rs 48 Lakh, one each for himself and his son.

CM’s Secretariat managed to get desired answers from Mandi House to its questions craftily drafted by then Principal Secretary to CM, Khursheed Ahmed Ganai. It also extorted a ruling in Mr Gul’s favour from Department of Law in Civil Secretariat and Advocate General.

NC’s MLA, Mubarak Gul, who also happens to be Advisor to Chief Minister and the principal ruling party’s Chief Whip, got up in Legislative Assembly to read out the certificate of his innocence that had been obtained overnight from Sr Director of DD Kashir, Ananya Banerjee. His fellow Advisor to CM, Devender Singh Rana, hurriedly organized a news conference to declare that Legislators and Councilors were entitled by law to appear in all competitions in Government of India’s subsidiaries like Doordarshan.

Jammu-based RTI activist and prominent lawyer, advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, however, has got a completely different answer to the same question from the same DD official, Ananya Banerjee, when he filed an application under the central Right To Information Act 2005 before Directorate General of Doordarshan on 27-04-2010. Ms Banerjee was not only the head of the DD panel that conducted the controversial DD Kashir commissioning process in 2007-09 but also designated Public Information Officer (PIO) for DD Kashir.

Advocate Shakeel drafted a questionnaire of 21 specific questions to get it officially cleared whether the NC’s MLA, Mubarak Gul, and his son, Younis Gul, who was NC’s elected Councilor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), had committed any misconduct by way of their appearing in a government competition and subsequently getting DD Kashir’s projects worth Rs 48 Lakh allotted to their proprietary firms, Gulistan Productions and Himalayan Communications.

Advocate Shakeel’s Question No 20 was:

Whether public men (Members of Panchayats and Local Bodies, Members of Legislative Assemblies and Councils, Members of Lok Sabha, Members of Rajya Sabha), elected through a democratic process conducted/ supervised/ regulated by Election Commission of India, who take honorarium/ monthly salaries and other perks, are eligible to compete in the commissioning process of Doordarshan as private producers/proprietors of their business firms, and, thus entitled to do trade with Doordarshan, an organization of Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation of India?

a) If yes, can these public men participate in such competition to be held by DD in future?

b) if no, what action has DD initiated against Mr. Mubarak Gul who happened to be MLA from Assembly segment Iddgah,  Srinagar, for the term November 2002 to November 2008 and November 2008 to November 2014, and his son Mr. Younis Gul, who happens to be an elected corporator from Islamyarbal (Maharaj Ganj Ward) in Srinagar Municipal Corporation for the term February 2005 to February 2010 ?

Ananya Banerjee’s answer was a bold “NO” to part ‘a’ of the question---clearly a huge embarrassment for J&K Chief Minister and his aides. Her answer to part ‘b’ : “The empanelment of Sh Mubarak Gul has been withdrawn and his proposal stands canceled as per guidelines”. Nevertheless, she intriguingly remained silent about Mubarak Gul’s son, Younis Gul, whose membership in SMC and simultaneous contract from Doordarshan were clearly in question.

Answers to the questionnaire under RTI Act 2005 made it abundantly clear that no public representatives, nominated or elected, holding the membership of any Panchayat or Municipal body, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, were entitled to participation in any competition for seeking a contract from any Government, semi-government or autonomous organization.

While such an activity is known as trade of a public man with the government---not allowed in any state government and Government of India---it invariably tentamounts to misconduct and disqualification of membership in legislative bodies.

The only advantage for the delinquent in Jammu & Kashmir is that it is a “state of special status” where media is dismissed as nuisance, judiciary does not take suo moto notices, accountability organs---State Information Commission, State Vigilance Organisation and State Accountability Commission--- are either defunct or dysfunctional, and custodians of Constitution and law, from Presiding Officers of Legislature to His Excellency Governor, appear to be programmed to act as mute spectators.

Sequence of developments makes it clear that even after hullabaloo over the NC MLA’s and the Councilor’s fraudulent act of grabbing DD Kashir projects in J&K Assembly and national media in March this year, DD has canceled only the senior Gul’s empanelment and approval of his 8-episode Kashmiri drama serial titled ‘Azla Lon’. It opted silence for several months and has now surreptitiously released allotment of 8-episode Dogri drama serial “Allhar Golli Vir Sepoy” in favour of the junior Gul’s business firm, Himalayan Communications, with approved budget of Rs 24 Lakh.

As Younis Gul is completely illiterate in Dogri language and literature, he has sublet the production to a Jammu-based producer. Scores of contenders, who have long track record in filmmaking and Dogri fiction, have been rendered jobless by DD that wanted to oblige a Kashmiri politician’s green hand son. This is called the importance of being J&K Chief Minister’s Advisor.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mustafa to Geelani: Who were those million mourners in Sheikh Abdullah’s funeral?

‘History will decide who was the hero and who was the villain’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 8: War of words between the Hurriyat hawk, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and the National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s descendants has refused to die down. Sheikh’s son, Dr Mustafa Kamal, today surfaced with a counter-offensive on Geelani and asserted that the man known as Sher-e-Kashmir for 50 years had lived and died as a hero for millions of the Kashmiris. In his statement on Monday, Geelani had berated Sheikh Abdullah, his dynasty and political party as “traitors and backstabbers of the Kashmiris”.

Two-times Minister and currently NC’s MLA from Hazratbal, Dr Mustaf Kamal claimed in his statement that his father and the NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had all through his life lived and died as a hero of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Sheikh, according to him, commanded respect and charismatic influence among the Kashmiris and his popularity could well be measured by the size of his funeral procession in September 1982. 

Dr Kamal pointed out that even after resuming power under Indira-Abdullah Accord of 1975, NC under Sheikh’s leadership swept the polls and secured two-third majority in 1977 Assembly elections. He said that when Sheikh died after ruling the state for seven years, over a million “wailing and chest beating mourners” participated in his 5-kilometer-long funeral procession and the entire world watched it. Had the Kashmiris rejected Indira-Abdullah Accord, treated Sheikh and NC as traitors and had Sheikh been a cruel ruler---as Geelani had claimed---entire Valley would not have mourned his death and given him a hero’s send-off.

Assailing Geelani and Jamaat-e-Islami on their diatribe against Sheikh, Dr Kamal asked them if they were for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and Azadi, what had compelled them to participate in the Assembly elections of 1972, 1977, 1983 and 1987. Geelani’s Jamaat had bagged just one to five seats in these elections. Kamal dismissed Geelani’s criticism of Sheikh as an utterance in frustration. He said that Geelani and his Jamaat had ended up as non-entities before Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference.

“History alone will decide as to who was the Kashmiris’ hero and who was the villain”, Kamal said, suggesting implicitly that the separatist leaders had done disservice to the Kashmiris by leading a bloody movement of J&K’s separation from India.

Even as none in the ruling NC showed spine to contest Geelani’s anti-Sheikh and anti-NC assertions for five months of street turbulence in the Valley, Sheikh’s sons, Farooq Abdullah and Mustafa Kamal, have now begun to take on the separatist icon in an aggressive manner. Most of the party’s leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his Cabinet colleagues and legislators, are however still tightlipped on the diatribe from separatists.


Captain, militant killed in Sopore gunbattle
25 missing youth suspected to have joined Lashkar

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Dec 8: In two days of a fierce rocket attack on the residence of Superintendent of Police, Police and Army have killed a Pakistani militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba in Sopore but not before a Captain of Rashtriya Rifles lost his life in the operation.

Informed sources in North Kashmir told Early Times that Sopore Police and troops of Rashtriya Rifles swooped on Model Town ‘B’ outskirts in Sopore when they received specific information regarding the presence of two militants at a house late last night. The holed up militants opened indiscriminate gunfire on the troops. Captain Abhimanyu of RR 22 Bn, who was leading the troops, sustained critical injuries. He was rescued and rushed to Army’s Base Hospital in Srinagar where he later succumbed to injuries.

Sources said that one of the holed up militants was believed to have made good his escape in the initial round of the firing. They said that troops zeroed in on the residential house of one Raja w/o Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh and killed one-odd militant in a 20-h0ur-long gunfight. Sources said that the target house was razed to rubble with IED blasts today. Dead body of one militant was recovered from the debris alongwith his AK-56 rifle.

With the help of residents and radio and telephonic intercepts, officials said that the slain militant was identified as Abu Ubaidullah, resident of Sialkote, Pakistan. They insisted that he was a local commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

While the operation was underway, a group of about a dozen youth shouted pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and later resorted to stone pelting at a place in the town. They dispersed when Police chased them away. Death of a youth, allegedly injured in Police firing sometime back in Baramulla, was reportedly the stimulant of today’s short-lived tension in Sopore.

Well-placed official sources disclosed to Early Times that as many as 25 were missing in just two localities of Sopore since September this year and sustained silence from their families was an indication of their joining a militant outfit. According to usually reliable reports, all the 25 missing youth have been briefly trained and they have all joined LeT. Sopore area is likely to witness violence if reports of the missing youth having joined LeT turned to be true.

After the street clashes and stone pelting died down in the fourth week of August this year, militants have carried out a number of strikes on their targets in Sopore. During the night intervening December 5th and 6th, militants attacked the official residence of SP Sopore, Altaf Khan, and caused considerable damage to his bedroom with rifle grenades and rockets. Khan had a providential escape as he had just shifted to an adjoining room.

On November 12th, Police and Army killed a militant in an encounter at Chhankhan Naseem Bagh. However, a Police official also got killed. Earlier on November 10th, militants had gunned down two CRPF personnel on the highway at Pattan. In August, militants had launched two successive strikes on the residential house of MLA Sopore, Haji Mohammad Ashraf Ganai, at Dangarpora. In one of these attacks, a junior Police official got killed. On June 25th, Police and security forces had eliminated two militants in a fierce encounter at Chhankhan but a post-operation clash of the residents led to the killing of two civilians in CRPF firing.

Prof Jan appointed as director CCAS at KU

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Dec 8: Senior professor of Persian language and literature, Dr Ghulam Rasool Jan today took over as Director of Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS) at the University of Kashmir, following the superannuation of Prof G M Mir. Jan has taught at KU’s Department of Persian and CCAS for nearly 30 years and scores of students have completed doctorate under his leadership.

An authority on Iranian art, culture and literature, Prof Jan has his own doctorate on the life and philosophy of Kashmir’s revered saint and Persian poet Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi.

Author of many books on central Asian issues, Prof Jan has made remarkable contribution to his credit on history of Persian literature with special reference to Tajik and Kashmir. He has published more than 20 research papers on various themes concerning Central Asia in reputed journals. Kashmir university teaching and students fraternity has congratulated Prof Jan on his appointment as head of the CCAS. 

Meanwhile a valedictory function was organised in CCAS in honour of the outgoing head Prof Mir as also to welcome new incumbent Prof Jan. It was attended by faculty members and non-teaching staff of the Centre. Senior faculty member and Dean of College Development Council, Prof Mushtaq A Kaw, on behalf of the faculty spoke highly about contributions made by Prof. G M Mir as the director. Prof Kaw assured full cooperation to Prof Jan and hoped that CCAS would achieve new heights of excellence under Prof Jan’s able leadership.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CM’s Kashmiri Advisor gets Dogri serial for his son

DD Kashir: Fighting Pak propaganda or generating heartburn in Jammu?

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Dec 7: He contested elections on National Conference (NC) ticket in 2005 and represented Srinagar downtown area of Islamyarbal in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) till February 2010. He was regularly paid honorarium as a public representative. But, that was not enough for Mubarak Gul’s son, Younis Gul, who fraudulently projected himself as a “private producer” and appeared in the government competition, like his father, in 2007-09, when he was NC’s elected corporator in Srinagar. By virtue of being son of the Advisor to J&K Chief Minister,Omar Abdullah, Younis Gul has now got DD Kashir’s Rs 24 Lakh project “Allhar Golli Vir Sepoy”---an 8-episode drama serial, not in Kashmiri but in Dogri language. Gul’s business firm Himalayan Communications has just begun shooting of this Dogri fiction at different locations in Jammu.

Once instrumentalists in Nawab Bazar’s Shah Dramatic Club, Mubarak Gul and Ali Mohammad Chralu (now Sagar) had begun their political career together when they floated NC’s youth wing, J&K Youth Federation, (later named as J&K Youth National Conference) and ran an effective election campaign for the ailing Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1977. NC swept the polls against all visible indications and trounced all---New Delhi-backed Janta Party, Congress, Jamaat-e-Islami.

In recognition of their hardwork, both, Sagar and Mubarak, were fielded as NC’s candidates in 1983 elections in downtown Srinagar. Both polled more than 80 to 90 percent of the total votes cast in their respective constituencies. These were the elections when JKPCC chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was defeated in both of his segments---Bijbehara and Homeshalibugh. Luck was a little choosy thereafter. Sagar was inducted as Minister of State for Information by Dr Farooq Abdullah in 1988-89.

Firebrand Sagar maintained rising to the heights but Mubarak kept craving for Ministry. When Sagar was completing eight years of his working as Minister with three Chief Ministers in July 2008, Mubarak got the charity of the “status” of a Cabinet Minister. He was designated as “Advisor to Chief Minister” and assigned the portfolio of chairing meetings with officials and collecting applications from the human ocean of Kashmiri job seekers.

Generation-2 of the NC’s “youth leaders” came to the surface together when Sagar got SMC’s ticket for son, Salman, and Mubarak grabbed the one for Younis. Both were students of law, though the junior Gul could never pass the examinations till he was caught copying at a centre in Jammu earlier this year. Sagar succeeded in getting Salman installed as Mayor of Srinagar but the young corporator Younis Gul began trying his own and his father’s luck in Doordarshan’s much-hyped ‘DD Kashir’ channel.

While Sagar and Salman kept tasting fruits of Omar Abdullah-led government, Mubarak and Younis secretly projected themselves as “private producers”. They submitted two different programme proposals and appeared in the competition of the commissioning of DD Kashir programmes at Directorate General of Doordarshan when the father was an elected Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and the son an elected councilor with SMC. Their public office qualification is a known disqualification for private producers seeking contracts with any state government, Government of India or its subsidiaries.

As exclusively reported by Early Times earlier this year, five-times MLA and now government functionary of the rank of a Cabinet Minister, Mubarak Gul, besides his SMC councilor son, Younis Gul, had submitted their applications to Mandi House to get themselves empanelled as “freelance producers” for DD Kashir in December 2007 when both of them were peoples elected representatives. Retaining their public representative status, both of them appeared in the competition and an interview before DD’s Evaluation Committee in June-July 2008.
In October 2009, DD allotted 8-episode Kashmiri drama serial, titled ‘Azla Lon’ to Mubarak Gul when he was not only an elected MLA but also Advisor to Chief Minister. It was ultimately withdrawn when Early Times reported how the right of professional freelance producers and directors was being marred and how the salaried legislators and J&K politicians were being entertained as “private producers” by Doordarshan under the smokescreen of fighting Pakistan’s information war on Kashmir.

Mubarak Gul, however, managed to save his son’s Rs 24 Lakh project with the help of Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, who was known not only for his patronage from the Union Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, but had also projected himself as “Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lali’s man” in J&K.

Being a “Kashmir related matter”, all of the state and the central government’s integrity watchdogs, including DD’s internal vigilance wing, Central Vigilance Commission, J&K State Vigilance Organisation and Central Bureau of Investigation conveniently shut their eyes to DD’s multi-Crore fraud. Even Governor and Speaker of Legislative Assembly, who are normally regarded as the custodians of Constitution and Legislation, chose to ignore this broad daylight fraud that was brazenly condoned by the “intellectually immaculate” Chief Minister of the state.

[To be continued….]


Monday, December 6, 2010

Geelani hits back on Farooq, calls him, his family and party ‘traitors’

‘NC responsible for 1947, 1975, 1996 and 2008 treasons’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 6: Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani today made a counter scathing attack on the National Conference supremo Dr Farooq Abdullah and dismissed him, his entire dynasty and political party (NC) as the “real traitors and backstabbers of Kashmiris”. He claimed that Jammu & Kashmir would not have been under “Indian occupation” today if Sheikh Abdullah, his progeny and NC would not have stood by New Delhi during the defining moments in 1947, 1975, 1996 and 2008.

In his fiery reaction to the speeches delivered by the NC top brass at Sheikh Abdullah’s mausoleum at Hazratbal on Sunday, Geelani held Dr Farooq Abdullah, his dynasty and party responsible for Jammu & Kashmir’s miseries and political uncertainty over the last 63 years. He asserted that simply for his hegemony and New Delhi’s good humour, Sheikh Abdullah converted the Muslim Conference into the secular National Conference in 1938. According to Geelani, Sheikh and his party “backstabbed” the Kashmiris way of strengthening “Indian military occupation” in J&K in 1947 when they ratified the Maharaja’s accession to India.

Geelani referred to 1975 (when Sheikh resumed power under Indira-Abdullah Accord), 1987 (when Assembly elections, according to the Hurriyat leader, were rigged), 1996 (when NC contested elections to defeat 7-year-old armed strife) and 2008 (when NC again jumped into the electoral fray to fail a mass agitation) and asserted that Farooq and his party had always “committed treason with the Kashmiris”. He alleged that in all of its regimes since 1947, the Sheikh dynasty and NC committed untold atrocities on the oppressed Kashmiris only to enjoy power under an occupational and colonial set up.

Geelani said it was none other than Dr Abdullah who engineered custodial killing of one-odd voice of dissent to Indira-Abdullah Accord, namely Ghulam Mohammad Bulla of Sopore. Bulla had died in a jail.

He added that it was again none other than Dr Abdullah who signed the death warrant of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat. Sentenced to death for gunning down a bank manager and a Police official in Handwara area, Bhat had been executed in Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984, when Dr Abdullah was Chief Minister of J&K. Geelani said that Dr Abdullah ignited insurgency by resorting to “massive rigging” in the Assembly elections of 1987 and later embraced power in 1996 only to defeat the Kashmiris’ armed struggle. He said that in 2008 too, it was none other than Dr Abdullah who came forward to contest the Assembly elections and failed a mass agitation in the Valley.

Geelani claimed that India was ruling Kashmir only because of Dr Abdullah, his family and party. “As long as India has Farooq Abdullah in Kashmir, it would never regard any democratic means adopted by the Kashmiris to fight their political battle”, Geelani said.

In his rejoinder to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s question---‘If Geelani has no problem in meeting with Indian Parliamentarians, why should he not meet with Government?---the Hurriyat chief argued that the separatist leaders would continue to interact with any non-official delegations from New Delhi. He made it clear on Chief Minister that he would have no hesitation in meeting with the official Indian envoys the day New Delhi declared J&K a disputed territory and abandoned its refrain of J&K being its integral part.

SP Sopore has narrow escape in major attack on his house

Militants fired grenades, destroyed SP’s bedroom in midnight strike

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 6: Superintendent of Police (SP), Sopore, Altaf Khan, had a providential escape when militants launched a major strike on his house from a distance of 30 meters and caused heavy damage to his bedroom during last night.

SP Sopore, Altaf Khan, told Early Times that a group of heavily armed militants drew incredibly close to his official residence at Town Hall, Sopore, at around 20 minutes past midnight and targeted the Police and CRPF-guarded structure with UBGLs, RPGs and AK-56 rifles. He said that the grenades fired with complete precision, evidently by well-trained militants, landed well in his bedroom and caused considerable damage to its interior.

“It was simply my good luck that I had moved to an adjoining room. I first took it as an earthquake but realized soon that it was a terrorist strike to kill me. Guarded retaliated for about five minutes and forced the militants to vanish in darkness”, Mr Khan said. When security forces and ballistic experts made an extensive inspection of the site today, a Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles opined that the militants had fired from a distance of just 30 meters.

Officials confirmed that the targeted house suffered some damage but they maintained that nobody was killed or injured in the midnight strike witnessed in Sopore township after several years.

From November 2009 to February 2010, militants had almost staged a comeback while striking and killing a number of Police and CRPF personnel at different places in Sopore area. In October later, they also attacked the house of NC’s MLA, Haji Mohammad Ashraf Ganai in Sopore outskirts. In one of these attacks at Police Station Sopore, militants also succeeded in killing one of SP Sopore’s personal security officers. This is, however, first time that they have struck on the official residence of the District Police chief in the apple-town with incredible precision. None of the militant outfit’s had claimed responsibility of the attack till late tonight.

Even as Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad have established their presence in Sopore area with certain subversive activities this year, officials insist that well-trained militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba, most likely Pakistani cadres, were involved in carrying out the attack on SP’s residence.

Later today, reports from Sopore said that Police and security forces had launched a major operation to identify and apprehend the militants involved in the strike. According to these reports, confirmed by officials, Police have arrested two brothers, namely Jihangir and Javed, sons of Saifullah, and Maulvi Mohammad Afzal from Iqbal Nagar locality. They have been reportedly subjected to sustained interrogation but it was not immediately clear whether their questioning had yielded anything substantial or not.

With the help of call detail records of the mobile phones recovered from three youth killed in the Qamarwari shootout on November 29th, Police have learned that the trio had set out for a “cop killing operation in Srinagar” from Ontoo Hamam locality of Sopore. Two of the three youth killed minutes after they gunned down a Constable have been identified as residents of Seer Jagir and Alsafa Colony of Sopore while as third one surfaced as a resident of Bandipore.

Residents of Parimpora-Qamarwari area today staged a protest demonstration and blocked the highway when Police swooped on the peripheral locality and arrested one Nazir Ahmed Mir.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Farooq blasts separatist leaders over shutdowns, stone pelting

NC patriarch also snubs Shariq, Mustafa Kamal on their anti-India statements

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 5: National Conference President and Union Minister of New & Renewable Energy Resources, Dr Farooq Abdullah, today came down heavily on the Valley’s separatist leaders and held them responsible for leading the Kashmiris to a quagmire of devastation. He even did not spare his own senior party colleagues, Sharief-ud-din Shariq and Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, over frequently issuing anti-India and anti-Police statements.

Addressing a remembrance function on the NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s 105th birth anniversary at Hazratbal, Dr Abdullah asserted that some political leaders had sacrificed everything for the prosperity, development and dignity of the people of Jammu & Kashmir but there were also politicians who forced the hapless people to sacrifice everything for making their own family fortunes.

Dr Abdullah said that violence and crass forms of resistance, like armed insurgency and stone pelting, had been employed by the Valley’s separatist leadership as tools to win freedom from India. But both, according to him, were unacceptable to the civilized world. He claimed that the separatist leaders and their followers had not only failed to achieve anything but had also pushed Kashmir in a morass of misery and misfortune. While the leaders themselves had achieved their personal comforts and built fortunes for their own children, the ordinary Kashmiris had been forced to suffer for petty morsels of food.

Three-times former Chief Minister, Dr Abdullah said that the separatist leaders had forced the poor Kashmiris to shut their schools and shops for months and years together but, on the other hand, they had sent their own children to foreign countries to pursue higher studies, jobs and businesses. Mentioning hardliner separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani by name, Farooq said that the Hurriyat chief would religiously stick to a fabulous menu even in jail but a lousy spinach was a luxury for the poor Kashmiris. He said that continuous shutdown for five months this year had not only affected the development and economy but had also ruined the future of poor students who wanted to pursue their studies and compete with students of other Indian states in different examinations and job opportunities.

Dr Abdullah said that anarchical street clashes, stone pelting, closure of shops and schools and torching of school buses---justified by the Hurriyat leaders as the Kashmiris’ only tool of resistance and attracting the world attention---would simply add to the miseries of the people of the state, particularly those living in Kashmir valley. He argued that dialogue in fact was the only tool to make one’s point and achieve something in any conflict. He asserted that NC would continue its 60-year-long struggle to achieve what Sheikh Abdullah had envisioned for the people of this embattled state.

Restoration of greater autonomy, he contended, was the best possible solution of the J&K unrest. He hastened to add that if any other individual or political party came forward with a better solution “that must be all-inclusive and acceptable to people of all regions of the state”, NC would have no hesitation to accept it. He said that he and his party would give every sacrifice to realize Sher-e-Kashmir’s dream of a prosperous, autonomous state of Jammu & Kashmir.

A day after Geelani called upon the Kashmiris to reject the proposed Panchayat and local body elections with “total boycott”, Dr Abdullah asked the people to participate in the grass-root democratic process in a big way. He asked his party workers to set themselves into the election mode and make preparations for yet another victory at the hustings right from today.

On this occasion, Dr Abdullah did not even spare his own senior party colleagues for frequently issuing anti-India, anti-Police and anti-security forces statements without ascertaining facts of the incidents brought to their notice. He snubbed NC’s Member of Parliament from North Kashmir, Sharief-ud-din Shariq, as well as younger brother and MLA Hazratbal, Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, over their passion of issuing statements that had the potential of discrediting the state and the central governments and demoralizing Police and security forces who were working under extreme hostile conditions from different quarters.

Shariq had taken lead over all separatist and mainstream politicians in discrediting the October 29th shootout at Qamarwari as “cold blooded murder of innocent youth”. He was later followed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Geelani who called for a shutdown on December 4th against the encounter and called it a “deliberate murder”. One of Shariq’s relatives was among the three youth killed by Police after they allegedly gunned down a Constable in broad daylight and began leaving alongwith his AK-47 rifle.

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, who has been extremely cautious in his remarks about the separatists, also lashed out at them on incidents like sustained stone pelting, shutdowns and now burning of a school bus. “Sher-e-Kashmir never instigated his followers to shut businesses and educational institutions and burn down the school buses”, Omar asserted. He too said that the separatists had been pursuing their own agenda of vested interest and claimed that it was he who had convinced the highest leadership in New Delhi that Kashmir was a political problem and it required a political resolution.