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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Five BJP MLAs write to Speaker: “Treat our resignations as withdrawn”

Gadkari may ask Manhas to initiate dismissal of defaulters in Assembly

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 21: Fearing dismissal under anti-defection law in the state Assembly, five of the seven BJP MLAs, accused of voting for the ruling coalition candidates in recent elections for Legislative Council, have petitioned Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone to treat their resignations as “withdrawn”. Even as Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and Prof Garu Ram are still unfazed, political sources in New Delhi insist that the BJP President Nitin Gadkari was likely to ask Jammu & Kashmir head of his party to approach the Speaker for dismissal of all the seven MLAs.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that five of the opposition BJP MLAs, namely Jagdish Raj Sapolia, Master Lal Chand, Baldev Raj Sharma, Durga Das and Bharat Bhushan, today approached Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone one after another with identical applications. The applicants have invariably requested the Speaker to treat their resignations letters as “withdrawn”.

In the wake of allegations of cross-voting against seven BJP legislators, the party high command had last week obtained resignation letters from all the eleven MLAs and initiated an inquiry into violation of the party whip by seven particular members. All the 11 MLAs of the party had subsequently handed over their resignations to General Secretary incharge J&K, O P Kohli.

According to sources, five of the BJP MLAs have written to the Speaker that the party high command had sought their resignation letters for investigation into the alleged cross-voting. They have asserted that the inquiry was underway but claimed emphatically that they had not violated the party whip and indulged in the cross-voting. In an attempt of pre-empting disqualification proceedings against them under the state anti-defection law, these MLAs have claimed that charges of cross-voting and violation of the party whip have not been proved against them.

Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, confirmed to Early Times that he had received identical applications from five MLAs of BJP whose submission was that their resignation letters, which they have handed over to the party high command, may not be acted upon. According to him, five MLAs of the party have submitted that their resignation letters, as and when delivered for any action, be treated as withdrawn.

Mr Lone identified the five applicants as MLA Basohli, Jagdish Raj Sapolia, MLA Banni, Master Lal Chand, MLA Reasi, Baldev Raj Sharma, MLA Hiranagar, Durga Das and MLA Domana, Bharat Bushan. He, however, clarified that the Assembly Secretariat had not received any letter from the BJP or any of the MLAs’ resignation for any action under rules, till late tonight. Nevertheless, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta had been immediately removed as the BJP Legislature Party chief and replaced by MLA Nagrota, Jugal Kishore.

Seven MLAs, including both the Professors, have been placed under suspension and served show-cause notices on account of voting for the ruling NC-Congress coalition against huge bribes by the state government. After being interrogated by the party command on April 19th and 20th in New Delhi and on the basis of a report submitted by three senior party leaders, namely Jagat Prakash Nadda, O P Kohli, (national General Secretaries), and R P Singh, who had visited Jammu on April 14th, the legislators in the dock are fearing dismissal of membership in J&K Assembly under the state’s anti-defection law.

Party’s chief whip in Assembly and MLA Jammu East Ashok Khajuria, MLA Nagrota Jugal Kishore, MLA Marh Choudhary Sukhnandan and MLA Suchetgarh Sham Choudhary, are understood to have been given a clean chit by the party high command. BJP candidate had polled only four votes of these MLAs in the election for two seats of Legislative Council on April 13th, though chief whip Ashok Khajuria had directed all the MLAs of the party to vote for the party candidate. During the counting process, it became clear that four MLAs of BJP had voted for the Congress candidate Yashpal Khajuria and three more for the NC candidate Master Noor Hussain.

Sources said that the five MLAs had approached the Speaker after learning from New Delhi that the party chief and BJP’s head of the Parliamentary Board, Nitin Gadkari, was likey to ask J&K BJP unit President, Shamsher Singh Manhas, on Monday next to proceed against the defaulters with an exemplary disciplinary action. According to reports, Manhas would be directed to seek disqualification of the delinquent MLAs under anti-defection law in the state Assembly. All the seven suspects have been already placed under suspension in the party.

Sources revealed that at least two of these MLAs had sought legal opinion from a celebrated advocate who is understood to have advised them to take shelter under a legal provision that legitimizes defection of two-third strength of the legislators---seven in this particular case---as “split”. However, much is left to the Speaker’s discretion. Even as Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and Prof Garu Ram, had not submitted any application to the Speaker till late this evening, sources believe that the seven defectors could form a separate “split group” to protect their membership in the Assembly.


Two candidates removed from merit list,
cut off lowered from 92 to 91
to pick up Law Secretary’s son,
Suhail Hassan Tantray, for a post of
Assistant Legal Remembrancer
in Law Department!

 This story was published as banner lead in daily Early Times of April 15, 2011 ( [Back Issues]

PSC breaks law for Law Secretary’s son

Two IAS officers add a feather to SL Bhat’s cap as the last nail in PSC’s coffin
Their advantage: A Government that barks on corruption and nepotism but does not bite

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Apr 14: Secretary of J&K State Public Service Commission (PSC), Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari, and the state government’s Law Secretary, Ghulam Hassan Tantray, are known as fast friends in bureaucratic circles but it is hard to establish that the two IAS officers were in collusion to appoint latter’s son as Assistant Legal Remembrancer (ALR) in the state Law Department by unfair means. The incontrovertible fact, however, remains that the PSC removed two particular candidates from merit shortlist of the Open Merit (OM) category, lowered the cut off from 92 to 91 marks and thus included the Law Secretary’s son among the candidates to be interviewed for final selection on April 16th. If selected, it would be for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir bureaucracy that a Secretary to Government would be issuing the appointment orders of his own son.

Without questioning integrity and competence of the PSC Chairman and members, documentary evidence in possession of Early Times reveals how merit of the poor candidates is marred with impunity in the PSC and how ruthlessly they are slaughtered at the feet of the legatees of bureaucrats and politicians in the government of the state’s cleanest ever Chief Minister.

Law Department, headed by Ghulam Hassan Tantray, referred 15 posts of Assistant Legal Remembrancers/ Public Law Officers to PSC soon after Secretary’s son, Suhail Hassan Tantray, completed two years of practical experience at Bar last in May 2010. Posts were advertised vide Notification No: 03-PSC of 2010 dated 28-05-2010. Before Bukhari, Mr Tantray has himself served a term as Secretary of PSC.

In September 2010, Law Department amalgamated the posts of ALR, PLO and Assistant Draftsman (Translation) and made them part of J&K Legal Services (Gazetted) Service. Tantray communicated it to Bukhari vide Law Department’s No: LD(Estt)94/43-II dated 09-09-2010. PSC withdrew the vacancies of ALR/ PLO from Notification No: 03 dated 28-05-2010 and advertised the same afresh vide Notification No: 14-PSC of 2010 dated 24-09-2010. While as 8 vacancies were in OM, remaining 7 were in the reserved categories of RBA (03), SC (01), ST (02) and ALC (01). Bachelors Degree in Law with two years of actual practice at Bar was prescribed as the Essential Qualification.

As over 700 law graduates applied and not more than 45 were supposed to be called for the interview (in addition to nine higher qualification LL M candidates, who were exempted under rules), PSC conducted necessary Screening Test, after scrutiny of each candidate’s documents and testimonials, on 27-02-2011.  612 candidates appeared in the test. Result was declared vide Notification No: PSC/EXAM/11/34 dated 08-03-2011. Cut off marks, out of a total of 120 marks, were also announced separately for all categories---OM (92 marks), RBA (89), SC (82), ST (76) and ALC (85).

Figuring at Serial No: 6 of the Result Notification, Suhail Hassan Tantary (Roll No: 1200007) secured 91 marks. Since the cut off for Open Merit was 92 marks, he did not fall among the candidates to be called for interview. Sources privy to the process insist that it was done “under a strategy” as all eyes on that moment were on the Law Secretary’s son.

 To keep the door open, PSC result notification came out with a “Note”. It read: “The cut off marks in respect of all the categories are purely provisional and subject to verification of documents submitted by the candidates and consequent upon determination of eligibility in accordance with rules. Corrections/Changes, if any, shall be notified separately”.

Even as the “verification of documents and final determination of eligibility” takes place invariably at the time of the interview, unless challenged in a specific case, the PSC Secretary silently removed two particular candidates from the merit shortlist--- obviously to lower the cut off to 91 and thus include the Law Secretary’s son among the candidates to be called for the interview. Both the ill-fated candidates, namely Heena Basharat (Roll No: 1200218) and Shaista Amin (Roll No: 1200221), who figured at Serial No: 168 and 171 of the PSC result notification dated 08-03-2011, secured 92 marks in the Screening Test.

Under the notified formula of ‘three candidates for one post’, total of 24 candidates, upto cut off level of 92 marks, were supposed to be called for the interview. Since three candidates, including Heena and Shaista, had secured 92 marks, the number of candidates to be called rose to 25 instead of 24. With deletion of the last 2 candidates, namely Heena and Shaista, this number reduced to the desired level of 23. That is exactly what created room for inclusion of the Law Secretary’s son, who had secured 91 marks in the Screening Test.

 (Since the number of candidates securing 91 marks was five, all of them got a right to be called alongwith Suhail Hassan Tantray---taking the number of candidates to be called for interview for 8 vacancies of Open Merit category from 23 to 28).

A month after declaration of results and fixing the cut off for OM at 92 marks, Bukhari issued an unnumbered “Notice” to declare that interviews for the 15 posts of ALRs and PLOs would be conducted by PSC at its Jammu headquarters on 16-04-2011 and 17-04-2011. Without declaring any candidate ineligible or specifying any disqualification, the “Notice” dated 06-04-2011 suggested that the cut off in Open Merit category had been lowered from 92 to 91. Cut off for all reserved categories was left intact. Suhail Hassan Tantray, who secured 91 marks in the Screening Test, figures at Serial No: 24 among 28 candidates called for the interview in OM category.

Some of the candidates believe that the two deleted candidates had no resources to complain and agitate the injustice. Some others suspect that both the girls have been bribed out or influenced by other means to remain silent.

Insiders in both, PSC as well as Law Department, insist that the entire selection exercise is a “fixed match” and all decks have been cleared to appoint 26-year-old Suhail Tantray as Assistant Legal Remembrancer in Law Department so that he becomes the state’s Law Secretary in 12 years from now, if not inducted midway into KAS and IAS to enjoy a stint as a Director or Deputy Commissioner. The great public service!


Interlocution ends up as a failed intelligence operation

Abbas Ansari suspended from Hurriyat after meeting with Padgaonkar team

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 20: Having failed to meet any of the separatist leaders in the last six months, Dileep Padgaonkar-led team of New Delhi’s interlocutors today succeeded in arranging its maiden interaction with the senior Hurriyat leader Maulvi Abbas Ansari. However, Ansari realized soon that he had only burned his fingers as, within minutes of the meeting, Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq declared him as a delinquent and suspended his membership in the Hurriyat Conference.

The team of celebrated interlocutors, including academician Radha Kumar and retired bureaucrat M M Ansari, called on the cleric-politician Abbas Ansari at his Khankah-e-Sokhta residence in Safakadal area of downtown Srinagar at around 1100 hours. Informed sources revealed to Early Times that during his hour-long interaction with the interlocutors, Abbas Ansari made it clear that no solution to the vexed Kashmir problem was possible as long as the hardliners were calling the shots in Valley and Pakistan was not associated with the political process.

Ansari complained that the pro-India politicians had developed a huge vested interest in the turmoil and the successive governments, in New Delhi as well as in Srinagar, had left no stone unturned to strengthen the hardliners---an obvious reference to people like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Massarat Alam and Asiya Andrabi. He complained that New Delhi had been repeatedly making Hurriyat a laughing stock and reducing its credibility by calling it for “dialogue” without any sincerity of purpose and a roadmap. Both, NDA as well as UPA governments, according to Ansari, had only humiliated Hurriyat by defaulting on the promises made before every meeting.

Sources said that the interlocutors listened to Ansari with rapt attention while enjoying his hospitality. They sought to emphasize that current process of finding a political solution to the Kashmir problem was “different from all previous initiatives” and assured their host that the separatists’ viewpoint would be “duly accommodated” in their report to the Centre. They argued that Hurriyat’s meeting with them would be “mutually beneficial” and thus in the best interests of the Kashmiris.

Within hours, however, Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took a serious notice of his colleague’s meeting with the interlocutors. He declared that Ansari as well as his Anjuman-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen had been immediately suspended in the Hurriyat on account of the politician’s meeting with the interlocutors “in violation of the Hurriyat executive committee’s decision”. Mirwaiz said that Hurriyat’s top decision making body had decided that there would be no individual or group meetings with the Padgaonkar team.

Mirwaiz told media that the team from New Delhi had neither any mandate nor any role in deliberating on Kashmir’s political resolution. According to him, this team’s objective was “nothing but dividing the separatist leaders and breaking the Hurriyat”. He asserted that Hurriyat’s meeting with the interlocutors would be just an exercise in futility. He said that Ansari’s membership had been suspended with immediate effect, though the Hurriyat executive committee would meet soon to discuss the violation in detail and accordingly take the final decision.

In a quick reaction, spokesman of Ansari’s Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen issued a statement to clarify that the interlocutors had called on the separatist leader “without any appointment”. According to him, it was only for upholding the Muslim tradition of respecting a guest that Ansari had allowed his uninvited guests in and served them a tea. He claimed that the conversation lasted for just 20 minutes during which Ansari emphasized that there was no role for interlocution after Hurriyat’s meetings with the Prime Minister in the past. He said that Ansari made it clear to the team that Kashmir’s solution lay in nothing but “tripartite talks between Islamabad, New Delhi and the Kashmiris”.

In a related development, later in the afternoon, Padgoankar claimed at a news conference that it was Ansari who had called the interlocutors for a meeting with him at latter’s residence. He called it a “positive development” and wished all other separatist leaders to follow Ansari in resolving the Kashmiri crisis. Radha Kumar made a prompt intervention to clarify that “a number of colleagues” had played role in arranging her team’s meeting with Ansari. The interlocutors were addressing media at the conclusion of their seventh visit to Kashmir in the last six months.

Padgaonkar said that Ansari desired action from New Delhi over Hurriyat’s 4-point formula that includes releasing of all political detainees, withdrawal of bunkers and draconian laws like PSA and AFSPA and reduction of troops. According to him, Ansari was in favour of “sincere, serious and meaningful dialogue” between New Delhi and the separatist leadership.

Facing credibility crisis due to its unclear mandate, Padgaonkar-led team of interlocutors has not been able to take the Valley’s separatist leadership on board in the last six months. Its imposing company with a number of discredited political activists and pseudo-intellectuals has, in fact, reduced the team to just another failed intelligence operation in Kashmir.

Delhi to salvage Omar Govt from Dogra Certificate quagmire

All permanent residents being declared entitled to benefit in recruitment

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 19: Taking separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s ultimatum on withdrawal of Dogra Certificate order seriously, Congress-led UPA government at the Centre is likely to come to the rescue of Omar Abdullah-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities in the union Ministry of Home Affairs are now working on a damage control exercise. Even as a subordinate judicial court in Budgam has admitted a petition against the order and the Bar Association in Jammu is reportedly planning to challenge its jurisdiction in the High Court, MHA is likely to declare all permanent residents of the state entitled to the benefit in recruitment in all paramilitary forces.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that in follow up to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s threadbare discussion on Dogra Certificate issue with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, MHA had begun drafting of a notification that would declare all permanent residents of J&K state entitled to certain benefits in recruitments in CRPF, BSF and other paramilitary forces. This, according to sources, would automatically put an end to the practice of issuing ‘Dogra Certificate’ to residents of Jammu province who, until now, are the exclusive beneficiaries of the document being issued by Tehsildars (Territorial).

Following complaints of some National Panthers Party legislators in the state Legislative Assembly over “delay” in issuing the certificate, Department of Revenue had issued Government Order No: Rev (LB) 69 of 2011 Dated 25-03-2011, notifying Tehsildars as the competent authority in issuing ‘Dogra Certificate’. It was later amended on April 7th when Government made it clear that Dogra Certificates to be issued by Tehsildars (Territorial) to residents of Jammu province would be only for the purpose of seeking certain relaxations in recruitment of staff in the central paramilitary forces.

As some right wing forces, led by Geelani in Kashmir and some opposition leaders in Jammu, for conflicting purposes, began stirring up the issue, a resident of Chadoura area challenged the order in the court of CJM Budgam. The court put the order in abeyance and issued notices to the state government. It is being widely speculated that Government itself was behind the move as its attorneys did not raise any objections. According to reports, a section of Bar in Jammu is planning to challenge jurisdiction of the CJM’s court in the High Court. Meanwhile, on April 18th, Geelani served an ultimatum while asking the state government to completely withdraw its March 25th order before April 30th or else face the consequences.

Perceiving Geelani’s ultimatum as the first serious threat to six-month-long calm and a promising tourist season in the Valley, Omar Abdullah government, according to sources, decided to seek New Delhi’s help in salvaging itself from the quagmire. As of now, a sense of public outrage is absent in both Kashmir (over March 25th order) as well as in Jammu (over the suggestion of revocation), but situation analysts have just begun drawing parallels between May 2008 and May 2011.

 “Geelani had begun the embryonic stage of 2008 Amarnath Pilgrimage row with a simple statement over the need to keep the environment on the Yatra route free of pollution”, reminded an analyst. He asserted that the octogenarian separatist hawk had the capacity of stoking the regional fires with the fuel of Dogra Certificate in one or two months---beginning of the hyper-sensitive pilgrimage season. Withdrawal of the order was perceived to be impossible as such a notification had the potential of an ignition in Jammu. The political executive from Srinagar to New Delhi seems to be unanimous over the central intervention as an order declaring all permanent resident certificate holders entitled to the recruitment benefit could offset issuance of Dogra Certificate.

----------------------Maulana Shaukat assassination----------------------

Srinagar conclave wants militants, Police on board in probe

Geelani, Mirwaiz among panel of 10 to liaise with UJC, J&K Police

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 18: In a significant and unprecedented development, an assembly of almost all separatist political and religious organisations in Kashmir valley today resolved to carry out a “credible and transparent investigation” into the assassination of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH) chief, Maulana Shaukat Ahmed Shah. According to a unanimously made decision, a 10-member panel, that includes Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, would conduct the investigation in coordination with United Jihad Council (UJC) in Pakistan and the state Police in Kashmir.

Sources present in the three-hour-long closed-door meeting at JAH’s Barbarshah headquarters revealed to Early Times that most of the speakers sounded to be in favour of striking a balance. They deliberated at length on the cleric’s killing in an IED blast here on April 8th and J&K Police’s claim of breakthrough, as announced by IGP Kashmir on April 16th, and asserted that the Police investigation should neither be endorsed nor rejected at this stage. The speakers pointed out that categorical dismissal or acceptance of the findings could prove to be an impediment in the way of reaching the truth and identifying the killers.

The all-party conclave decided that the 10-member panel, to be headed by JAH incharge President Ghulam Rasool Malik, would establish contact with the J&K Police in Srinagar as well as the alliance of Kashmiri militant outfits in Pakistan and “Azad Kashmir” for collection and verification of the facts revolving around the slain cleric and his assassination at a mosque in Maisuma.

Sources said that JAH General Secretary Abdul Rehman Bhat, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sheikh Mohammad Hassan, Anjuman Sharyee head Aga Syed Hassan, Anjuman Ittihadul Muslimeen chief Maulana Abbas Ansari, Islamic Study Circle representative Dr Yousaf-al-Umar and Maulvi Shaukat Ahmed Keng, were also appointed as members of the panel. One or two representatives of High Court Bar Association would also be included.

While as Maulana Ghulam Rasool Malik hosted the conference on behalf of JAH, it was, among others, attended by Chairman of so-called moderate faction of Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of JKLF, Mohammad Yasin Malik, President of Mustafa faction of Anjuman-e-Sharyee Shia’an, Aga Syed Hassan Al-Moosavi, President of Anjuman-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen Maulana Abbas Ansari, Dr Yosuf-al-Umar, Maulvi Showkat Ahmad Keng, Hakim Abdur Rashid, Sayeed-ur-Rehman Shams, Dr Abdul Lateef, Mufti Yaqoob, and others.

Even as hardliner Geelani was not present, his faction of the Hurriyat was represented by his son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah. Head of right wing Jamaat-e-Islami in Jammu & Kashmir, Sheikh Ghulam Hassan, was also conspicuous by his presence.

Sources said that the speakers expressed concern over security perception of Kashmir’s separatist political and religious leaders in the light of Maulana Shaukat’s assassination. Interestingly, Police and other government agencies had made elaborate security arrangements for today’s conclave and quite a number of the guests treated Police as guards rather than “killers”---an allegation they have been facing in all mysterious killings in the state since 1989.

In sharp contrast to all previous assassinations, speakers at today’s separatist conference avoided accusations and negative references to Police and other government agencies, even as none of them did categorically endorse Police claim on the breakthrough. As already reported, Police has held an axis of radical groups and militant cadres responsible for the killing andclaimed to have arrested two of the killers. All the accused groups and individuals have dismissed the Police claim “baseless” and called it part of a vilification campaign to smear the Valley’s separatist movement.

Geelani serves ultimatum over Dogra Certificate

‘Revoke order by April 30th or face consequences’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 18: Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani today served ultimatum on Omar Abdullah-led coalition government and threatened to launch a mass agitation in case recent order on issuance of Dogra Certificate was not withdrawn by April 30th.

In his key address at a seminar on “Dogra Certificate Ka Kya Jawaaz?” at his Hydeprora residence here, Geelani dismissed the state Revenue Ministry’s order dated March 25th as a “well-conceived plot to neutralize the identity of Muslim community in Jammu and merge it with the Dogra identity”. He denigrated the coalition government as “New Delhi’s puppet” and alleged that the identity and cultural aggression in Jammu & Kashmir was “New Delhi’s brainchild”.

 “The RSS wants to divide Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines and bring home to the world that the Kashmir movement is restricted to just a section of the area and population”, Geelani asserted. He called upon the people in entire state to register their protest against the government move and convey to the world that all three regions of the state - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - were united in their fight against “India’s autocratic rule”.

Chairman of the hardline faction of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Geelani made it clear the Kashmiris’ demand was total revocation of the order rather than its modifications.  “If it is not revoked till April end, we will make strategy to counter it in first week of May,” he warned. He alleged that the Indian authorities were “using brute force to suppress the ongoing peaceful liberation movement in Kashmir.

On interlocutors’ arrival in Kashmir, he said, “On one hand India talks of peace and at the same time its troops are illegally detaining innocent Kashmiris including minors under the draconian law, Public Safety Act, and lodging them in far-flung jails. They (interlocutors) have come here to delay the resolution of Kashmir issue which seems to be their basic objective.”

Commenting over the situation after the assassination of Jamait-e Ahli Hadith president, Maulana Shaukat Ahmad Shah, Geelani said: “In the last two decades, unidentified gunmen are active in Kashmir and they have killed hundreds of innocent Kashmiris. Some of these killers even managed their entry into the state Assembly”. It was obviously Geelani’s veiled reference to the founder of counter-insurgency, Kukka Parray, who got hundreds of militants eliminated by security forces till he contested 1996 Assembly elections and became an MLA for the next six years. Geelani claimed that Kashmir’s freedom struggle was completely peaceful.

“We aren’t in a position to fight with the Indian military, but we will continue our just struggle peacefully. We are politically engaged in a war with India. The only difference is that we don’t have guns or bombs in our hands,” he said. He quickly clarified that his Hurriyat had no differences with militants and both were pursuing the same goal of “winning freedom for Kashmir”,  

“We don’t oppose militant organizations as they have their own role to play. But we want to carry forward our struggle peacefully,” he added. He said that the people of Kashmir were not being allowed a space for expression “by the occupational authorities” to even peacefully raise their voice against the Indian oppression. “Since 2010, I have been confined to my house by the Indian Police,” Gilani complained.

Earlier, Dr Javed Iqbal, Abdul Hamid Zarger, Altaf Hussain Nadvi, Advocate Mohammad Shafi Reshi, Mohammad Shafi Lone besides the specially drawn activists from Jammu, namely Qazi Asgar Poonchi and Mohammad Sharief Sartaj also delivered speeches at the seminar.

‘Jihad business centre’ running in Srinagar Central Jail

9 cellphones, 15 SIM cards recovered; action underway against jail staff

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 17: While proceeding with the investigation in Maulana Shaukat Shah’s assassination here on April 8th, Police today conducted a major search operation in Srinagar Central Jail and discovered that a number of detained militants had been freely interacting with their outside contacts through their mobile phones. As many as nine mobile phone sets, alongwith 15 SIM cards and battery chargers, were recovered from about a dozen of the prisoners whose communication system was found operational despite presence of six signal jammers on the premises.

It was exactly at midnight last that Police in Srinagar requisitioned permission from the state Home Commissioner, B R Sharma, for conducting a raid on Srinagar Central Jail in search of “a number of mobile phones” that, according to inputs, were operational with over a dozen militants and separatists on the fortified premises. Mr Sharma completed necessary formality within minutes and faxed the document from his Jammu residence.

Around the same time, Police requested Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Meraj Ahmed Kakroo, to provide an executive magistrate for the purpose of supervising a “raid on a house”. At 0620 hours, a thick contingent of Srinagar District Police and CRPF, headed by SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, swooped on the jail to conduct first of its operation in the last 22 years of militancy. SP City South, Shaukat Sarwar, SP Hazratbal, Abdul Waheed Shah, SP City East, Zulfikar Hussain, besides half-a-dozen Dy SPs, were part of the operation supervised by a Tehsildar.

Informed sources, associated with the raid, revealed to Early Times that the search operation was conducted on all twelve barracks of different militant organizations. When the operation concluded at 1230 hours, as many as 9 mobile phone sets and 15 SIM cards had been recovered from about a dozen detainees of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and other guerrilla groups. Surprisingly, the telecommunication devices were found operational inspite of six signal jammers on the premises.

“Use of telecommunication equipment is completely banned in all jails. Still, jammers have been installed to prevent interaction of prisoners with their contacts outside. Just one jammer is normally sufficient to block all such communications but surprisingly all the cellphones were found to have been in use”, a middle rung official revealed. According to him, 15 SIM cards seized from the barracks belonged to the Government of India controlled BSNL besides Aircel, Tata Indicom, Airtel and other private telecommunication companies.

Sources said that Police frisked the bodies and belongings of all the 500-odd prisoners who included 11 Pakistani nationals belonging to three different Jihadi outfits. Even as the process of scanning all incoming and outgoing call detail records, text messages, internet chats and emails conducted by the seized mobile phones was still underway, sources said that a number of the devices carried GPRS facility. These included sophisticated Samsung Galaxy and i-phones from Apple which are as good as computers in handling Internet traffic.

A senior Police official said that smuggling in cellphones, SIM cards and battery chargers would not be possible without involvement of the jail staff. He said that the investigating team was preparing a detailed report that was likely to be sent to the Government on Monday.

While as IGP Prison, Mohammad Amin Anjum, did not respond to a call and Superintendent of Srinagar Central Jail, Dhinesh Sharma, was not reachable for comment, Home Commissioner, B R Sharma, said that government would take action, if any necessary, on the basis of a detailed report from Srinagar. He said that the operation was still underway and he too was heavily preoccupied with today’s Panchayat elections. Mr Sharma is also Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir.

IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, and SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, refused to comment, though the SSP confirmed that the raid was in connection with the investigation into Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith chief Maulana Shaukat Shah’s assassination. The cleric had died in an IED blast at a mosque in uptown Maisuma locality here on April 8th.

Yesterday only, Police claimed to have solved the high profile politico-religious assassination. It claimed to have arrested four of the 10 persons, allegedly involved in the killing. According to Police, Pakistan-based Sout-ul-Haq and Tahreek-ul-Mujahideen chief Jameel-ur-Rehman, former TuM chief Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Gazali and detained supremo of Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, had hatched up the conspiracy of Maulana’s killing while as Sopore-based Pakistani chief of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Abdullah Uni, had provided three pistols and three detonators for the operation.

In a significant development today, spokespersons of all the three guerrilla groups besides Sout-ul-Haq and Faktoo’s relatives rebutted the accusation. They all invariably described the Police statement as “baseless” and claimed that it was only with the purpose of defaming the separatist movement and creating a wedge of mistrust between the groups participating in the “freedom struggle”.

Srinagar Central Jail insiders revealed to Early Times that during today’s search operation, Faktoo shouted on SSP Bukhari that he was being fabricated in baseless cases. He claimed that Gazali had never visited him at the jail or interacted with him through any other means. His relatives complained that Faktoo, who was serving a life term for allegedly ordering killing of human rights activist, H N Wanchoo, had been made a target of the “vilification campaign” just a day before a Double Bench of J&K High Court was expected to release him on parole. Once head of dreaded Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Faktoo has completed his Ph D in detention and the jail authorities have described his conduct as impressive. He is the husband of detained Dukhtaraan-e-Millat Chairperson, Asiya Andrabi.

Police claims to have cracked Maulana’s assassination

Dukhtaraan chief Asiya’s husband, former TM chief Gazali booked for murder

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 16: Police today confirmed the Early Times scoop dated April 13th and declared that Jameel-ur-Rehman’s organisation ‘Sout-ul-Haq’, in coordination with radical cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, had assassinated Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith chief, Maulana Shaukat Ahmed Shah, in an IED blast at a mosque in Maisuma on Friday last. According to Police claim, detained Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi’s husband, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, septuagenarian Ahl-e-Hadith activist and one-time “Chief Commander” of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TUM), Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Gazali, besides the Valley’s most wanted militant and Pakistani commander of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Abdullah Uni, were key characters behind the cleric’s killing.

During its weeklong exercise, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of District Police Srinagar has discovered that Maulana Shaukat Shah’s intimate relationship with JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, besides his role in making Jamia Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH) as a part of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith of India, became the key reasons of his assassination on April 8th. Sources associated with the investigation revealed to Early Times that Karachi-based chief of Sout-ul-Haq, Maulana Jameel-ur-Rehman, JAH ideologue and former TUM chief, Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Gazali and detained Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) chief, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, had played key role behind the assassination.

According to these sources, LeT’s Kashmir chief and Sopore-based commander Abdullah Uni, had provided arms and ammunition while as a radical breakaway group of six to eight youth, carried out the operation. Sources said that, on the basis of various leads and inputs, SIT had succeeded in arresting Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Gazali of Russu (Beerwah), Budgam, Javed Ahmed Munshi alias Bila Papa R/o Methan Chhanpora (both TUM activists), besides Nisar Ahmed Khan alias Ishaq R/o Khan Colony Chhanpora and Altaf Ahmed Rather R/o Galwanpora Hyderpora (both JUM cadres).

Search was still underway for Tariq Ahmed Wani alias Maulvi Tariq of Naqashpora Barbarshah, Farooq Ahmed Sofi of Rampora Chhattabal, Maqsood Ahmed Shah of New Colony Soura, and Sajjad Ahmed alias Khanda of Methan Chhanpora, besides the Pakistani commander of LeT Abdullah Uni.

Quoting interrogation reports of the three detained persons, sources revealed that cadres a radical breakaway group, headed by Bila Papa and promoted in Pakistan by Jameel-ur-Rehman, who is Sout-ul-Haq chief and representative in United Jihad Council, had developed serious differences with Maulana Shaukat over the latter’s close association with Yasin Malik. Men of the group were also disturbed over Maulana becoming JAH chief for four successive terms.

On several occasions, they confronted him openly over his association with a “secular leader” (Malik) and his public utterances and speeches in which Maulana had emphasized on “brotherhood among all Muslims”. On more than one occasion, they had questioned Maulana’s role in promoting harmony between different sects of Islam and restricting his sermons to just propagation of Islam without laying any emphasis on Jihad and militant Islam.

Members of the group sought written opinion from Madani clerics of the organisation about a puritanical Muslim’s Muslim’s courtship with a “secular leader”. The clerics issued a Fatwa, saying it was “un-Islamic” but they did not issue a specific opinion in endorsement of death sentence to such a “delinquent”. Bila Papa tried to motivate Nisar Ahmed Khan but every time he refused to carry out the assassination in absence of a written Fatwa from the clerics.

Meanwhile, Gazali met Dr Qasim three times in Central Jail Srinagar where the duo planned and approved the assassination. LeT chief Abdullah Uni was contacted in Sopore. He sent his man “Bashir” three times to Bila Papa in Chhanapora. Subsequently, Uni provided three Chinese pistols and equal number of detonators for killing Maulana. Eight gelatine rods were acquired from a quarrying worker in Panta Chowk. It was strictly made clear that only the target, Maulana Shaukat, should get killed and nobody else should be harmed.

Before the April 8th fatal blast, Bila Papa and Nisar Khan made two attempts on two successive Fridays. On March 25th they planted the IED on the bicycle but could not trigger off the blast as Maulana was accompanied by his “lovely son”. On April 1st, they again failed to cause the blast as Maulana was closely escorted by two youngsters. They finally got the opportune time on April 8th when Maulana was all alone entering the mosque from its rear door as usual.

According to these sources, the radical combine of TuM-JuM-LeT was strongly opposed to Maulana’s “growing association” with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, several other mainstream politicians and a number of officials and political leaders in New Delhi with his mission of ‘integrating” JAH with India and seeking an Islamic University for the organisation. However, they did not seem to be aware of Maulana’s two secret meetings with Dileep Padgaonkar-led three-member team of interlocutors in New Delhi in January this year.

IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, flanked by DIG Central Kashmir Abdul Gani Mir and SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, today revealed at a news conference that Maulana’s killers had been identified and three members of the group had been arrested. They said that Bila Papa fabricated the IED on his own bicycle and Nisar Khan activated the IED with a remote control device.
IGP stated that on 08.04.2011, Moulana Showkat Ahmad Shah, President Jamiet Ahl-e-Hadith was killed in an IED Blast near Masjid Ahl-e-Hadith at Maisuma Srinagar. Immediately, investigation was set into motion, during which the criminal conspiracy behind the killing has been unearthed. Members of a radical religio-political out fit namely Sout-ul-Haq and some other radical elements have been found behind the conspiracy. Moulana Showkat was perceived as one against sectarianism and helping to defuse sectarian clashes. His work in education field, especially trying to get a university from the government was perceived by them as a compromise with the government when they failed to dislodge him through elections, conspiracy was hatched to eliminate him. Also his proximity with certain separatist leaders was not liked by them.

He said that, one Abdul Ghani Dar @ Abdullah Gazalli and Ashiq Hussain Fakhtoo @ Dar Qasim who is presently lodged in central Jail Srinagar discussed the broad contours of the plan during a visit by Gazalli to Dr Qasim. However, the actual execution of the plan was left to one Javaid Ahmmad Munshi @ Bill Papa resident of Chanapora Srinagar who sought help from Lashkar Commander Abdullah Uni. He received some material from Abdullah Uni and arranged some of it locally. Various parts of execution were done by various other members. However, the actual triggering of the IED was entrusted to one Nissar Ahmmad Khan @ Ishaq R/O Chanapora. Abdul Gani Dar@ Abdullah Gazalli, Javed @ Bill Papa and Nissar Ahmmad Khan have already been arrested.

Omar should not entertain BJP’s political prostitution

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 15: He may have done it out of an apprehension for his National Conference in late 1970s but Sheikh Abdullah in history enjoys the distinction of having pioneered the anti-defection law in India. If the Department of Law has slept over the need of an amendment to J&K Peoples Representation Act of 1957, that governs the conduct of elections for Legislative Council, Sher-e-Kashmir’s successors should share the responsibility.

Owing to the absence of the amendment, that would have brought the state law at par with the central Peoples Representation Act of 1951, the prospect of cross-voting and horse trading exists in Jammu & Kashmir. It is because of this difference between the two that the whips issued by political parties are implemented in the elections for President of India and members of Rajya Sabha while as there is no mechanism to check whether a voter has observed the order in faith or breach.

The man in the hot seat today is not a run-of-the-mill politician. He did not lose a second to announce his resignation when Muzaffar Hussain Baig leveled an allegation involving the Chief Minister’s person in 2009. Omar Abdullah returned to dignity with vengeance. Again, when PDP leader Nizam-ud-din Bhat went aggressive in Assembly to prove the CM wrong over the facts of a gunbattle in Bandipore, Omar took the challenge boldly. Once again, Omar’s detractors had to eat the humble pie. He has been unquestionably standing high on the moral ground.

Omar deserves greetings on the victory of five coalition candidates in the April 13th elections for Legislative Council. That none from NC or the coalition partner Congress resorted to infidelity, speaks volumes about Chief Minister’s popularity and trust within the ruling coalition. However, cross-voting of as many as seven MLAs of BJP made it a tarnished victory for the coalition. The defaulters deserving dismissal did vote for the two parties they have been holding responsible for every evil in India. Ideologically, there is no meeting ground between the NC-Congress fold and the right wing BJP. Much more than cursing Pakistan and militants, BJP has spent time and energy in lambasting on the mainstream twins.

Just a day before the polling, BJP leader and Chief Whip in Assembly, Ashok Khajuria, had described NC and PDP far more “harmful” to India than Hurriyat and Pakistan. In castigating NC, BJP has been serving as PDP’s counterpart in Jammu where it got 11 seats on a virulent regional and communal divide in 2008 Assembly elections. The strange bedfellows, BJP and PDP, voted for the Panthers Party candidate, Rafeeq Shah, in 2009 Upper House elections but that did not form a brazenly immoral axis. Later, one of the BJP members also voted for Dr Farooq Abdullah in the Rajya Sabha elections.

All eyes remained focused on PDP for the fact that it gave its mandate to two businessmen and ignored a galaxy of political stalwarts and intellectuals---from Tariq Hamid Qarra and Dilawar Mir to Naeem Akhtar. There were wild speculations that businessman Bharat Bhushan had been preferred to leaders of high political standing in Jammu with a purpose---of buying three MLAs from different parties. Everybody proved wrong when the results came out.

That the BJP whip defaulters voted out of conscience on April 13th is nobody’s claim. Everybody knows it is not always money that is paid to win a vote. This is also a matter of common knowledge that nobody keeps proof of buying the voters in these election. Chief Minister can not challenge his detractors on the “proof”. The fact remains that the pudding has been eaten. Was it cash or promises of privileges from the government in future, may never be established. This will be like asking Muzaffar Baig to come out with audio-visual footage in support of his accusation.

Notwithstanding maintaining the image of the state’s cleanest ever Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has already bent under party or coalition pressure in extremely serious matters in the last over two years. With the exception of G M Saroori’s dismissal, he has not acted against any of the corrupt politicians or bureaucrats. Legislative Council has already been reduced to a rehabilitation centre of defeated candidates, retired bureaucrats and controversial businessmen.

Many of those who were rejected by the people in Assembly elections of 2008, have been rehabilitated on the seats vacant by law for intellectuals and men and women of high profile in social service. This all under the nose of a leader who rushed to Governor with a caveat when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed wanted Rafi Ahmed Mir to grab such a seat in brazen disregard to Section 50 of J&K Constitution. Now Omar has been forced by his party to do five times what Mufti did in 2006. He would be the better judge what Noor Hussain and nonagenarian Dharam Vir Singh Oberai would contribute to lawmaking in this poor state.

Farooq Abdullah and Mufti are OK but when it comes to the intellectually and morally sensitive Omar Abdullah, there is no question of courthouse debate and mathematics in entertaining the political prostitution of a party that spits on autonomy and has been Omar’s target from the day of his historic speech in the Parliament in July 2008. Clearly, losing one-odd seat in Jammu would have been far less harmful than relishing the victory on an ideological rival’s promiscuity. It is high time, Chief Minister should take another big challenge of his career and favour fresh elections on the two seats in Jammu.

‘Two Ministers contested 2002 polls on Rs 1 Cr Pak money’

Delhi hawala operator makes sensational disclosures; woman arrested

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 13: If a Delhi-based property dealer, who has been arrested by Srinagar Police as a ‘hawala operator’, is to be believed, two Ministers of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Council of Ministers had contested the 2002 Assembly after receiving Rs 50 Lakh each from Pakistan. A prominent political family in Srinagar is in for a trouble if the ‘sensational disclosures’ made by the detainee turned out to be true.

Police officials refused to make comment but Early Times learned from reliable authoritative sources that Srinagar Police has arrested one Hira Lal of Delhi when it had laid a trap to catch some fake currency operatives red-handed. During sustained interrogation, Hira Lal identified himself as a resident of Tatesar village in Delhi outskirts and claimed to be a property dealer.

When sleuths conducted verification of Hira Lal’s statement, he turned out to be the confidante of a slain separatist leader. His disclosures also led to the arrest of a woman, namely Hajira Banoo of Lolab, Kupwara, who was also suspected to be part of the fake currency racket and subjected to sustained interrogation.

According to informed sources, Hira Lal disclosed that two particular businessmen-turned-politicians had contested 2002 Assembly elections after receiving Rs 50 Lakh each through him from Pakistan. Both the Independent candidates, who successfully contested their maiden elections from Handwara and Habbakadal respectively, were later inducted as Ministers by then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Dogged by controversies, one of these politicians later landed in the infamous Srinagar Sex Scandal after he was dropped by Mufti’s successor Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. He was arrested and released on bail after several months of imprisonment. While as CBI conducted raids on his Srinagar residence, Income Tax sleuths raided his Green Belt house in Jammu while investigating his earnings in a pharmaceutical company.

According to sources, Hira Lal has revealed that he had come into the contact of a separatist leader and a Srinagar-based businessman hailing from Handwara in early 1990s when he sold a property to the politician in Delhi. When he demanded the outstanding amount, the politician asked him to contact one ‘commander Bilal Rahi’ in Islamanad who owed him some money and would manage to send it to the Delhi-based property dealer.

Hira Lal has claimed that he received an amount of over Rs 5 Crore from the channel in Pakistan and later passed it over to the Srinagar-based businessman who, according to him, delivered the money on the politician’s family. He has claimed that the politician’s sons later spent the same money on acquiring land and houses at Punjab Khour village, Chermud village and Greater Kailash in Delhi besides a house in Srinagar. He has revealed that, as advised by the Srinagar-based businessman, he contacted a former J&K Chief Engineer’s family in Gurgaon and later transferred his house through a gift deed to one of the politician’s sons after deducting a part of a money consignment that was handed over to the seller.

Even as Police declined to either confirm or contradict Hira Lal’s arrest and his sensational disclosures, informed sources maintained that the detainee’s statement was being verified in close coordination with Delhi Police.

Maulana killed for proximity to JKLF, meeting with interlocutors?

Police suspecting Jameel-ur-Rehman’s Saut-ul-Haq for cleric’s assassination

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 12: Government has constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT), headed by SDPO Kothibagh Abdul Jabbar, to identify and apprehend the killers of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith chief, Maulana Shaukat Ahmed Shah. Even as Police are still groping in the dark, the “moderate” cleric’s proximity to JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik---that had remarkably grown in the last two years--- besides the former’s two secret meetings with the Government of India’s interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi, are believed to have caused the assassination here on April 8th.

Ballistic analysis of the substances, according to informed sources, has not led Police to any clues with regard to identity of the killers, their organisation or objective. According to these sources, the SIT headed by the young IPS officer, was almost certain that the IED blast on Friday last had been caused by an “insider” with the help of his mobile phone. All incoming and outgoing calls, handled by towers of different telecommunication companies in Maisuma and adjoining areas between 1100 hrs and 1400 hrs on the fateful day, are currently under scanner.

Officials of extensive counter-insurgency exposure in Srinagar are hopeful of a breakthrough in next one week. Sources said that the investigators were working on a host of theories, including the Maulana-led outfit’s hostility with two radical organizations over his proximity to JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, and Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith’s in-house factional feud.

Officials are also attempting to know whether the slain cleric’s two secret meetings with the interlocutors in New Delhi earlier this year had become any reason behind his assassination. Interlocutors Daleep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari had interacted twice with the cleric in New Delhi to get a first-hand account of his “moderate ideology” on the Kashmir problem, well-placed authoritative sources disclosed to Early Times.

None of the prominent separatist leaders has publicly met with the team of interlocutors ever since it was constituted by the union Home Ministry over Prime Minister’s advice in October 2010. Most of the separatist leaders have laid preconditions like declaring J&K as a “disputed territory”, releasing of all political detainees and relocation of troops---something not acceptable to New Delhi at this stage.

Based on “rough findings” of an investigation into a grenade attack on Maulana’s residence at Lal Bazar in 2008, Police officials are understood to be scanning the activities of a radical group of militants. Militants had thrown red colour and scribbled “Saut-ul-Haq” on the floor before lobbing the grenade on Maulana’s house three years back. The breakaway group’s head, Jameel-ur-Rehman, who is  a resident of Pulwama district, according to officials, was based in Karachi, Pakistan, for the last over three years.

Meanwhile, Jamiat’s officiating Chairman, Ghulam Rasool Malik, has organized an “all-party meeting” at the organisation’s headquarters here on Wednesday. All the separatist leaders, including heads of both factions of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, and heads of almost all the religious organizations have been invited for participation. The meeting would pay tributes to the slain cleric and discuss security related issues concerning the religious leadership in Kashmir.

On the host’s request, Government has made elaborate security arrangements for the meeting that would be followed by a news conference.

Men who shouted for Azadi, attacked cop were from NC

CM orders release of Bar chief, declines to relent on the ‘enemies within’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Apr 11: A group of lathi-wielding youth, who shouted for Azadi and attacked a Constable of Jammu & Kashmir Police ruthlessly on Srinagar-Baramulla last year, have turned out to be sons of the members of ruling National Conference (NC). Even as a senior NC leader and Minister applied maximum possible pressure for the release of the cop-attackers, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has made it clear that he would release detainees of Hurriyat and PDP but not the “enemies within”.

Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that men in the violent mob, who acted on the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call of “Sopore Chalo” on June 28th, 2010, and attacked a Constable of J&K Police near Hokersar Wetland Reserve, have turned out to be members of the ruling NC. Almost all of the accused have surfaced as residents of Zainakadal and other downtown localities who came from the NC families.

The key accused in FIR No: 159 of 2010, booked by Police Station Parimpora, Umar Hamid Hanga, has turned out to be the son of a senior NC activist and right hand man of a Cabinet Minister. The Minister’s Azadi shouting followers had attacked the Constable within 24 hours of the Minister’s publicly made charge that the Indian paramilitary CRPF was an “unbridled force” in Kashmir.

Highly placed sources in the state Home Department said that the Minister had applied “maximum possible pressure” to get the accused released but Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also happens to be the Minister incharge Home, had declined to relent on the “enemies within”.

Sources said that Police had arrested as many as 29 persons on the charges of attacking the Police constable and resorting to violence with an anti-national agenda in case FOR No: 159 of 2010. Six of the key accused, namely Umar Hamid Hanga S/o Abdul Hamid Hanga R/o Zainakadal, Murtaza Manzoor Panzoo S/o Manzoor Ahmed Panzoo R/o Maharaj Gunj, Farooq Ahmed Mir S/o Ghulam Mohammad Mir R/o Parimpora, Muzaffar Jan Itoo S/o Mohammad Yousuf Itoo R/o Safakadal, Shariq Lateef Bhat S/o Mohammad Lateef Bhat R/o Mustafa Abad Zainakot and Mohammad Maqbool Sofi S/o Mohammad Abdullah Sofi R/o Soura, have been detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) and detained at different jails in Jammu.

These sources said that Srinagar District Police had completed its investigation and a challan was being produced separately in a court of law against the arsonists, who nearly killed a Constable, but some of the key accused had been detained under PSA to prevent move of the defence to get them released.

In its exhaustive dossier, Police had attached explicit video clips of the attack on the Constable besides call detail records of the accused as well as their tower locations at the time of the incident. Sources said that in view of strong material evidence against the accused, Chief Minister refused to relent and desired that the investigation be completed and the trial conducted in a routine court of law.

Interestingly, a number of NC’s politicians, including Ministers, have been holding the separatist Hurriyat Conference and the mainstream opposition party, PDP, responsible for staging last year’s street turbulence and violent demonstrations.

Officials had no hesitation in sharing details of the ruling party activists’ involvement in the incidents of arson and separatist demonstrations but they sought to make it clear that there was no organizational support to these urchins. They refused to be on record with the argument that they were not authorized to speak to media.

Whips that won’t be cracked on defaulters in Jammu

NC, Congress, PDP worried over infidelity of ‘alienated’ MLAs

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Apr 4: The anti-defection law in practice in Jammu & Kashmir makes all MLAs bound to vote in accordance with the directions of their respective party whips in the elections for Legislative Council. However, the parties have no legal mechanism to ascertain whether a voter has gone by direction of the whip or contrary to it. In other words, any MLA belonging to any political party would be bound to vote for the choice of his or her party but at the same time free to practice it according to his personal choice and commitment. This difference in conducting of elections for the Upper House of the Parliament and Upper House of the State Legislature keeps Jammu & Kashmir open to horse trading on at least one unreserved seat in Jammu division in the Legislative Council elections on April 13th.

Chief Whips of National Conference (Mubarak Gul), Congress (Ghulam Ahmed Mir), PDP (Abdul Gaffar Sofi), BJP (Ashok Khajuria) and National Panthers Party (Balwant Singh Mankotia) would obviously direct members of their respective political parties to vote for the choice of the party. But, till date, there is no instrument in Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Representation Act of 1957 to find whether a particular MLA has obeyed the direction of his or her party whip or not.

“If shown to anybody, including a chief whip or an authorized polling agent, the ballot would become invalid”, Chief Electoral Officer and Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, clarified to Early Times. He said that the elections for Legislative Council of Jammu & Kashmir were being held under the procedure laid down in J&K Peoples Representation Act of 1957 that had no provision of open voting. On the other hand, elections of Rajya Sabha members and President of India were being held throughout the India, including in the special status state of Jammu & Kashmir, under the central Peoples Representation Act of 1951, that makes members of the electoral colleges bound to vote in open in accordance with the whips of their respective parties.

The provision of secret ballot was replaced by the provision of open ballot for Rajya Sabha and Presidential elections by way of an amendment in the central act when horse trading among MLAs and Lok Sabha members became a subject of national concern in the last 10 years. Owners and nominees of major corporate houses were known for “buying” the votes for huge amounts of money. An amendment in the Central law was finally introduced and adopted by the Parliament when Law Commission as well as Supreme Court of India asserted that members of the central electoral colleges could not assert their personal choice or commitment in the matter of electing members of Rajya Sabha and President of India. Under this law, MLAs of different political parties were asked by respective party whips to vote in open in the Rajya Sabha elections of 2009 when MPs, including the NC supremo Dr Farooq Abdullah, were elected.

This did not apply to election of MLCs that were held around the same time in 2009 under J&K Peoples Representation Act of 1957. Since the state Act has not been amended and brought at par with the central Act in the last two years, yet again the elections to fill up six vacancies in Legislative Council are being held with secret ballot.

Returning Officer and Secretary of Legislative Council, Mohammad Ramzan, told Early Times that in case a party whip established that a particular MLA of his party had gone in violation of the party direction, the defaulter would be subject to disqualification as MLA. However, he too elaborated that there was no legal or scientific system in vogue to find whether the member had observed the direction of his or her party whip in affirmation or breach.

With the prospects of a close contest between the ruling coalition and the possible PDP-NPP combine brightening up on one unreserved seat in Jammu, all the three major political parties are currently reframing their strategies. Notwithstanding factional warfare, little possible of cross-voting is existing in Congress. NPP is said to be divided in 2:1. However, arch rivals, NC and PDP, are both worried over disenchantment of at least six MLAs in each party. Criss-cross vibrations were palpable during the lately concluded budget session of the state Assembly.

Political sources revealed that the strategists in both the parties were currently toying with the idea of seeking oath on holy scriptures from respective MLAs of their parties to ensure that their votes did not cross the floor. But, at the same time, NPP as well as BJP were not in favour of “extra-constitutional measures” like forcing the MLAs to take oath of allegiance to the party.