Total Pageviews

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Did Azad timber lobby act to remove MD SFC?

Contender for CCF Kashmir, Qayoom Khan fired for ‘malpractices’ in Doda tenders

 Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 30: It is a matter of never-to-be-conducted investigation whether he was fired for “malpractices” in tenders for extraction and transportation of timber in Doda district or for any other reason. Officials holding key positions in the state Forest sector, however, insist that the union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s relatives played key role in removing Abdul Qayoom Khan as Managing Director of J&K State Forest Corporation (SFC) earlier this month.

Qayoom Khan, whose year of induction into IFS is 1986, was shifted in the minor reshuffle as MD SFC on April 20th, without any mention of his posting in the Government order. He was replaced by Director Soil Conservation, Abhai Kumar, IFS-1983. Khan’s unceremonious shifting from the prize posting, 10 months short of his retirement, has surprised many in Forest sector as he was known to be strong contender for the key position of Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Kashmir.

With many in Forest Department expecting Qayoom to take over any time, Manzoor Ahmed Khan, IFS-1986, has been holding the charge of CCF Kashmir since Maulvi Shafat Ahmed’s superannuation earlier this year. Notwithstanding his infamous suspension and Vigilance investigation into IWDP-I, Qayoom had emerged as the former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s only choice for SFC when Aijaz Ahmed Bhat landed into a major controversy and became the prime target of Kundal Committee in 2007. An influential timber lobby of Doda, that included two of Azad’s brothers, supported Qayoom for the ‘sensitive’ posting.

If Minister of Forest Mian Altaf Ahmed’s D.O No: PS/FST/2088 Dated 07-03-2011 has to be loosely interpreted, Qayoom had hobnobbed with so-called anti-Azad timber lobby in receiving tenders for extraction and transportation of timber in three particular compartments. Azad’s brother, Sajjad Ahmed Bhat, was the loser in these particular compartments.

In his demi-official order, copy of which is with Early Times, Minister of Forest and Chairman of SFC Mian Altaf, wrote to Qayoom Khan: “Specific complaints have been received regarding tendering process in compartment No.72/Bhaleesa, 79 Bhaleesa and 18/Padder wherein it is alleged that large scale malpractices have taken place. The said tenders be cancelled and called afresh maintaining proper transparency”.

Through a Tender Notice, issued vide No: 1511-40/CGM/PP/J Dated 17-02-2011, SFC had called sealed tenders for “extraction, off-road transportation and road transportation activities in various coupes/compartments of SFC extraction divisions Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar East and Kishtwar West”. The compartments notified included 1 ab/Simbol, 18/Padder, 25/Padder, 26/Keshwan, 17 ab/Marmat, 20/Marmat, 72/Bhalesa, 79/Bhalesa, 34/Jal and 63/Neru.

MD SFC constituted a committee of senior officials for the purpose of opening the tenders on 07-03-2011 and subsequently issuing the letters of allotment. Director General Finance SFC, Chief General Manager PP SFC, GM North Circle Sopore, GM East Circle Doda, DGM PP SFC, DGM Estates SFC Jammu and Divisional Manager Finance SFC Jammu were appointed as members of the tender opening committee.

When a comparative statement was framed, Sajjad Ahmed Bhat lost 18/Padder to one Mohammad Rafiq Rather. Rather offerered the 1st lowest rate of 59% above while as Sajjad’s rate was 122% above. Similarly, Rafiq Rather emerged as the 1st lowest with his rate of 48% above in 72/Bhalesa while as Sajjad quoted a stupendous 147% above. In 79/Bhalesa, Rafiq’s son, Rahil Rather, quoted 49% above and Sajjad 135% above.

According to well placed sources, Chairman SFC, Mian Altaf Ahmed, who convincingly enjoys the reputation of being Omar Abdullah’s most honest Minister alongwith only two others, was subjected to tremendous pressure from Delhi to Jammu to Srinagar. His directive, asking MD SFC to selectively cancel quotations in three particular compartments, was dashed off within an hour.

Interestingly, the D.O did not desire cancellation of quotations in 25/Padder where Tariq Hussain Bhat stood the 1st lowest with 124% above, in 26/Keshwan where Azad’s brother Ghulam Mustafa Bhat was the allottee with 99% above and in 34/Jal where again Gh Mustafa Bhat was the 1st lowest with 100% above. Even in 63/Neru, which received only one quotation, tender was not sought to be cancelled.

Instead of obeying the Chairman without argument, MD SFC wrote to Commissioner-Secretary Forest, Shant Manu, that the Minister’s contention was not based on facts. In his UO No:43/Cvi/SFC Dated 08-03-2011, Qayoom Khan recorded that members of the tender opening committee had all performed their assignment “in a most transparent manner and the tenders were opened within one hour of their receipt in presence of the tenderers”. He added that the members would “welcome an inquiry in this matter by any independent agency as may be decided by the Government”.

MD further pointed out that cancellation of the tenders in three particular compartments, where the rates quoted were “most competitive”, would be unjustifiable as the notification had been floated together for 10 compartments. He asserted that the rates in all other compartments, which according to SFC norms are offered to bidders in such cases, were as high as 145% above against Rather’s 48%, 49% and 59% above.

“In case of re-advertisement of these (three) compartments, keeping in view the trend in other compartments, there is probability of getting higher rates which shall be later difficult to justify”, MD SFC wrote and cautioned: “Further, the partial cancellation of the tenders in public domain can be read as discriminatory and against the principal of equality”.

Facing the thunder from many quarters, Qayoom Khan cancelled tenders of all the ten compartments within two days vide SFC Order No: 149 of 2011 dated 10-03-2011. He was removed from the post of MD SFC on 20-04-2011.

Minister incharge Forest and Chairman SFC, Mian Altaf, declined to accept that the tendering process was responsible for Qayoom’s transfer. “He had completed three years of his tenure and was due for transfer. His replacement, by an upright officer, was a natural process”, Altaf told Early Times. He asserted that the tenders were cancelled after he received complaints of “serious irregularities”. “MD contended that tenders of all 10 compartments would have to be cancelled. I agreed and directed him to start fresh process which he did under rules”, he said.

However, informed sources insisted that the contractors had resorted to “pool” (friendly competition in which one particular bidder pays money to all competitors and quotes a high rate) in certain compartments. They said that it was not without reason that those very people of an influential timber lobby, who had projected Qayoom in 2007, had been gunning for him in 2011.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Hurriyat triumphant over withdrawal of Dogra order

‘Govt bowed on Certificate today; India will buckle on Azadi tomorrow’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 29: Withdrawal of Dogra Certificate order by Omar Abdullah government has instantaneously brought a sense of pride and victory in the Valley’s separatist camp. Heads of both factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, today celebrated the revocation as “a great achievement for the Kashmiris” and told their Friday audiences that India would be forced in the same manner one day to grant the Jammu and Kashmir “freedom”.

“We have forced them bow and withdraw Dogra Certificate (order). This is a great achievement for the proud Kashmiri people. This is now clear that our freedom struggle will reach its logical conclusion one day in future and India will have to bend on our demand of Azadi”, Geelani told a Friday prayers congregation at a mosque at Bandipore. He asserted that nothing was impossible for the Kashmiris, should they demonstrate this kind of resilience and perseverance. He expressed his gratitude to the Kashmiris, who, he said, had stood behind him in his agitation against the March 25th Government order with the beginning of a shutdown on April 11th.

Geelani had threatened trouble for the 28-month-old coalition government in case it failed to rollback its order on issuance of a certificate, exclusively to residents of Jammu division, by April 30th. Two days before Geelani’s deadline, Government yesterday superseded its March 25th and April 7th orders by a fresh order, making the Dogra Certificate completely invalid and irrelevant.

A high-spirited Geelani, however, emphasized that a peaceful agitation was “more profitable than stone pelting” in the struggle of achieving the political goal of “freedom”. “I am not issuing a decree against or in favour of stone pelting. But, it is everybody’s observation that during last year’s stone pelting, we lost 118 of our young boys and none of the Indian soldiers died”, Geelani asserted. He emphatically advised his audiences not to call the troopers as “Indian dogs” and said that denigration of even the enemy soldiers was forbidden in Islam.

Probably for the first time in his 60-year-long political career, Geelani said that the Kashmiris and the Indian soldiers were “brothers by the relation of humanity”. He sought to make it clear that the Kashmiris’ conflict was with the “Indian Government” that, according to him, would be forced one day in future to grant “freedom” to Jammu & Kashmir. He claimed that not only every Kashmiri but also all residents of Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch districts were his followers in the “freedom struggle”.

Geelani claimed that Dileep Padgaonkar-led interlocutors had been fielded by New Delhi only for the purpose of splitting the separatist leadership. He asserted that it was a team that had neither mandate nor competence to resolve the Kashmir dispute politically as its recommendations would not be binding on the union Government. He reiterated that Hurriyat was ready to enter a dialogue process with Government of India but it could never be initiated until the Centre conceded “our core condition”---declaration of J&K as a disputed territory.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, a spokesman of Geelani’s political organisation, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, claimed that the Government had fallen into “frustration and nervousness” over the hardline leader’s deadline and under this pressure it had withdrawn the Dogra Certificate order.

While delivering his weekly sermon at the Friday prayers congregation at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, head of Hurriyat’s “moderate faction” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too felicitated the Kashmiris on making the Government bow. He described yesterday’s order of Revenue Department as the Government’s surrender before the Kashmiri masses. “It’s a great achievement”, he added.

Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally accepted disputed state. (Legislative) Assembly has no competence to make laws like the one on Dogra Certificate until final resolution of the dispute”, Mirwaiz said. He asked his audiences to remain vigilant so that no anti-Kashmiri legislation was made in the Assembly. He reminded Chief Minister Omar Abdullah his own statements of October 2008 and asked the Government to restrict its business to just providing roads, electricity and power. “Pro-India politicians have no business to make political deliberations in the Assembly”, Mirwaiz said.

Like Geelani, Mirwaiz too claimed that all Kashmiris, besides residents of entire Doda and Poonch-Rajouri belts, were for “freedom from India”. “Two-and-a-half (Hindu-dominated) districts of Jammu would never be allowed to determine “this disputed state’s future”, Mirwaiz grumbled.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The trail of white blood: In the last 16 months, 112 Kashmiris died in different incidents of firing by Police and paramilitary forces on crowds. Stone pelting ‘protestors’ and demonstrators too left seven persons dead and hundreds injured in the Valley.

S. No
Chakla, Baramulla
11-day old infant, Irfan Ahmed Magray S/o Nisar Ahmed Magray R/o Rowcha Rafiabad, died when he fell from the lap of his mother Kulsooma while stone pelters wereforcibly dragging passengers out of a minibus.
Shafeeq Ahmed Sheikh S/o Ghulam Nabi Sheikh R/o Nattipora, Srinagar, killed when stone pelters lobbed a stone on his head while he was traveling in Tata-407 to his office at Board of School Education, Bemina
Bemina Bypass
Ghulam Mohammad Guroo R/o Malroo Khujibagh killed when stone pelters attacked at Tata-Sumo on national highway Bypass at Bemina
Constable Ravinder Singh R/o Baramulla knocked down outside Police Station Budgam by a Tavera and subsequently lynched to death by a mob outside District Hospital Budgam
Nagbal, Shopian
Mohammad Ramzan Malik S/o Ghulam Ahmed Malik and Javed Ahmed Bhat S/o Mohammad Ismail Bhat R/o Chitragam Kalan, killed when stone pelters attacked their auto at Nagbal on Zainapora-Shopian court.
Azad Gunj, Baramulla
Ghulam Jeelani Bhat S/o Ali Mohammad Bhat R/o Shalimar, driver of SRTC bus JK01Y/0291, was attacked by stone pelters at Azad Gunj Baramulla when he was driving a bus carrying Panchayat polling staff. He succumbed to injuries at SKIMS on April 28th.

Public impression that Omar
released Mian Qayoom et al under
Amnesty International pressure
and withdrew Dogra Certificate order
under Geelani’s threat, may not augur
well for the Government

Stone-pelting returns to Valley ahead of Durbar

First death again in Baramulla; JKLF chief arrested for ransacking Maisuma Police Station

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 28: Even as the Early Times prediction (April 20th) today came true and New Delhi finally salvaged Omar Abdullah’s 28-month-old government from the Dogra Certificate morass, the much apprehended street turbulence has begun to return to Kashmir valley ahead of the annual Durbar Move. Like last year, the first civilian casualty by the stone pelters has happened in the old township of Baramulla and the JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, has been arrested amid clashes and ‘ransacking’ of Police Station at Maisuma.

Valley’s first casualty of, what could be arguably the beginning of Turmoil-2011, has come from the chronic flashpoint of Baramulla town. Official sources said that a driver of the State Road Transport Corporation, Ghulam Jeelani Bhat S/o Ali Mohammad Bhat R/o Shalimar, Srinagar, succumbed to injuries while under treatment at SKIMS in the wee hours today.

Sources said that during transportation of the polling staff and ballot boxes of the Panchayat elections from Rafiabad to Baramulla, a group of stone-pelting youth had attacked Bhat’s bus, JK01Y/0291, in Azad Gunj locality of old town Baramulla on April 25th. Under the fierce attack, Bhat lost control of his bus which, consequently, rammed into a grocery shop. He sustained critical injuries. He was quickly rescued and rushed to Srinagar where doctors treated him at SKIMS. He breathed his last at the hospital today.

Survived by his wife and three young children, Bhat is the fist civilian who has died, albeit at the hands of stone pelters, this year. The last casualties of street turbulence in the Valley had occurred before seven months of peace on September 13th, 2010. Last year too, the first such death had occurred around the same place on February 22nd, when stone pelters had forcibly dragged passengers out of a minibus and an 11-day-old infant, named Irfan, had fallen from the lap of his mother, Kulsooma W/o Nazir Ahmed Magray R/o Rawcha, Rafiabad.

Following seven months witnessed unabated street turbulence as 112 protesters and demonstrators died in firing from Police and armed forces and the stone-pelting crowds too left six persons, including a constable, dead while enforcing Hurriyat (Geelani)-sponsored shutdown. The poor SRTC driver from Shalimar is the seventh person to have died at the hands of such unruly mobs in the Valley since February 22nd, 2010. (See details in a separate box on this page).

SP Baramulla, Dr Haseeb Mughal, said that case FIR No: 87/2011 was registered at Police Station Baramulla and a manhunt was launched for the assailants immediately after they attacked the bus on February 25th. He said that almost all the people involved in the attack had been identified and two of them, namely, Ashiq Ahmad Chana S/o Mohd Sultan Chana and Waseem Ahmad War S/o Nazir Ahmad War, residents of Arampora Azad Ganj, had been arrested. He said that search was underway for their accomplices.

Parallel to current year’s first fatal casualty, uptown locality of Maisuma witnessed a flare up when JKLF Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik, and his followers and neighbours allegedly ransacked Police Station Maisuma over the late night arrest of a youth. Malik was arrested, alongwith half-a-dozen of his followers, and a criminal matter was filed against them at Police Station Maisuma.

SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, told Early Times that SHO Maisuma spotted a civilian, whose clothes were torn and who was bleeding, at Clock Tower in Lal Chowk, late last evening. He identified himself as Ashfaq Hussain Shah S/o Pir Hussain Shah of Karnah, presently living at Wathora, on Srinagar-Chadoura Road. On being questioned, Ashfaq described himself as the driver of a Tata-Sumo. He narrated how a resident of nearby Maisuma had mercilessly beaten him up and snatched away Rs 500 from him. Shah claimed that he could identify the asailant.

SSP said that during preliminary investigation, SHO learned that one Ashiq Hussain Dar S/o Mohammad Ramzan Dar of Maisuma had beaten up several persons in the last. He was late in the night arrested from his residence. The complainant identified him as the man who had attacked him. A criminal case was accordingly registered.

SSP added that JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, trooped into the Police Station in the morning today and threatened the officials of dire consequences if they failed to release his neighbour immediately. Even as SHO was present, Malik, according to SSP, smashed the table and broke glasses while threatening and abusing the officials. Thereupon, he walked out and enforced shutdown in the area. He said that Malik’s followers resorted to stone pelting on the passing vehicles and traffic was completely disrupted in Maisuma and Budshah Chowk.

While Malik was leading a procession towards Lalchowk, he was arrested alongwith his old time colleague, Shaukat Bakshi. Their supporters clashed with Police but dispersed when Police used baton charge and tearsmoke to scare them away. SSP said that Malik and Bakshi had been detained at Police Station Kothibagh. He said that Police would proceed against both, Ashiq Hussain Dar as well as Malik, under law.

Dar’s family members, however, told mediapersons that Police had been trying to arrest him on account of his involvement in last year’s clashes and street demonstrations. They claimed that Dar was innocent and was being fabricated in fake matters. Police maintained that he was a known criminal who was involved in a number of attacks on people, including the one on the Tata Sumo driver.

Officials insisting anonymity said that they were expecting resurgence of stone pelting and attacks on Police as some recent incidents had sent out signals that the Government was buckling under pressure of hardliners, interlocutors and Amnesty International. Officials said that release of a teenager as well as Bar Association chief, Mian Qayoom, were being widely attributed to the influence of Amnesty and the Centre’s interlocutors while as  hardliners like Geelani were taking credit for today’s revocation of Dogra Certificate order.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sagar, Sakeena, Akhoon stay away from wreath-laying ceremony

CM’s colleagues don’t have a word of sympathy for slain cops or bereaved families

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 26: Dying for the Azadi-lover Maulana Shaukat Shah and whosoever seeks Kashmir’s separation from India, Valley’s so-called mainstream politicians have been jostling to take lead in issuing condolences and calling on the bereaved families. However, when the wreath-laying ceremony of two slain constables of Jammu & Kashmir took place at Police Control Room today, everybody made it a point to remain absent. Those who were present in town but ‘boycotted’ the solemn event, include three senior National Conference (NC) leaders and Cabinet Ministers in Omar Abdullah government--- Ali Mohammad Sagar, Sakeena Itoo and Qamar Ali Akhoon.

Head constable Abdul Khaliq of Ajas, Bandipore, and constable Farooq Ahmed of Pulwama had been gunned down by militants late last night when they were on duty at Nowgam Chowk to protect VIPs like Sagar, Sakeena and Akhoon from a guerrilla strike. Their colleague in the naka party, SPO Ghulam Mohiuddin sustained critical injuries in the firing.

Through the messages radioed on the state telecommunication networks and short messages carried through the cellphone grid, Police had informed all and sundry about the wreath-laying ceremony. When a guard of honour was sounded in the morning at PCR grounds, not one of the Police-protected politicians was in attendance. A large number of legislators, besides three Cabinet Ministers, were present in town. None of them turned up at the solemn occasion. Three of the MLAs, namely Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami (CPM), Syed Bashir Ahmed (PDP) and Waqar Rasool Wani (Congress) stuck to their schedule of returning to Jammu by air but none among them too turned an eye towards the blood spilt on the highway.

While the familiar face on such occasions, Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar Meraj Ahmed Kakroo, was in Jammu, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, IGP Kashmir, Shiv Murari Sahai, DIG Central Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir, DIG CRPF, P K Singh, besides five Commanding Officers of CRPF, SSP Srinagar Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, all seven of zonal SPs in Srinagar, all Dy SPs and all SHOs posted in the capital city paid floral tributes to the slain constables.

More than four Police and CRPF personnel have laid their lives while guarding two of the three Cabinet Ministers in the last over a decade. Members of the bereaved families confirmed to Early Times that not a single of the so-called mainstream politicians and Police-protected VIPs offered even a lip service of sympathy, let alone visiting them in North and South Kashmir. They expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who had singularly condemned the militant strike and conveyed his sympathies and condolences.

Highly placed authoritative sources described the absence of the three Cabinet Ministers and a number of legislators as “unfortunate” and revealed that Chief Minister had directed his junior ministerial colleague, Nasir Aslam Wani, immediately after he was allocated the portfolio of Home department, to pay a visit to both the bereaved families on Wednesday. He is likely to be accompanied by Advisor to Chief Minister, Mubarak Gul, and some other NC leaders. However, this will be no match to the beeline of government officials and so-called mainstream politicians---NC, Congress, PDP, BJP---who burnt fuel worth Lakhs of Rupees of the state exchequer to mark their attendance at the residence of Police-protected separatist politician Maulana Shaukat Shah, who was eliminated here in a bomb blast on April 8th.

Paradoxically, senior NC leader and Lok Sabha member from North Kashmir, Sharief-ud-din Shariq, was the only politician in Jammu and Kashmir who had described the Qamarwari shootout of November 29, 2010, as a “fake encounter” and held Police guilty of killing “three innocent youth in custody”. Shariq and his colleagues in the “Indian Parliament” were thankfully silent today. Last incident of a fatal guerrilla strike on Police had occurred at Qamarwari, in Srinagar outskirts, on November 29th when militants gunned down two constables. In quick retaliation, Police had shot dead all three of the pistol-wielding militants on the spot. One of the three happened to be a close relative of the NC’s MP Mr Shariq.

In July 2010, sons of a senior NC leader’s and Cabinet Minister’s close associates participated in a pro-freedom demonstration while clashing with Police and beating a constable ruthlessly on the highway near Narbal. Chief Minister as well as his Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, are currently under tremendous pressure to revoke PSA detention orders of six of these assailants and set them free. Police have arrested all 39 persons, including six PSA detainees, who are facing charges of launching a murderous attack on the government official.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shrine believers organize massive congregation in Valley

Over one Lakh attend first-of-its-kind international Islamic conference

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 24: In an obvious shock to radicals and protagonists of militant Islam, who have enjoyed a no-holds-barred in the last 22 years of armed insurgency, faithful believers of saints and shrines today organized their first massive congregation in Kashmir. Over 100,000 devout Muslims participated in the grand international Islamic conference here at Sher-e-Kashmir Park that was addressed by scholars not only from all over India but also from a number of Islamic countries.

State facilitation, both from Government of India as well as the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, was evident to the one-day ‘Dawat-us-sunnah Conference’ from security and traffic arrangements to issuance of official press release by the state Information Department. A young preacher of Bareillvi school of thought, namely Maulana Ghulam Rasool Haami, whose influence has phenomenally grown in the Valley in the last one decade despite a grenade attack on his colleagues, had organized the congregation under the auspices of ‘Karwan-e-Islam’ (The Caravan of Islam).

The galaxy of the guest speakers included renowned Islamic scholars from a number of Arab and Central Asian countries. Ambassador of Tajikistan in India, Syed Ahmad Beigh Sayeedi, was a prominent speaker.

Ismalic scholars who delivered completely religious and non-political speeches on the occasion, included  Maulana Javaid Rabbani, Maulana Wali Mohammad Rizvi, Maulana Fazal Haq Qadri, Al-Shiekh Shah Al Hamid Shafaee (Egypt), Maulana Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi, Syed Nadeem Kirmani, Syed Basharat Hussain Rizvi, Qazi Abdul Qayoom, Maulana Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, Ghulam Kibriya Chasti, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Haami, Maulana Taj Mohammad Azhari, Maulana Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Naqeeb, Maulana Riyaz-ul-Haq, Ambassador Syed Ahmad Biegh Sayeedi and Maulana Abdul Gafoor Ibrahimi (Saudi Arabia)

Amid chanting of hymns and purely religious slogans, few of the speakers paid tributes to “all the innocent people of Kashmir who have lost their lives in last 20 years” but none of them did either refer to the two-decade long separatist movement or to the strife’s religious character. This made it clear that the sympathies and prayers were only for the victims of militancy.

Emboldened by huge success of the conference, Karwan-e-Islami founder Maulana Haami claimed that 80 percent of the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir were “firm believers” of Sufi Islam. He asserted that today’s congregation, in which people from all parts of the state participated, was an incontrovertible evidence that the Kashmiris predominantly support and practice the benign form of the religion. Haami’s right hand man, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi, who survived a fatal grenade attack at Tahab in Pulwama district on November 10th, 2006, was conspicuous by his presence. Five of Haami’s followers had died and 60 more had sustained injuries in the attack on Dawoodi.

While as the radicals have been invariably eulogizing great Islamic war heroes of the last 1400 years at such conclaves, speakers at today’s conference spoke high of the non-political preachers and icons of mysticism like Ameer-e-Kabeer Mir Syed Ali Hamadani and Sheikh-ul-Aalam Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani. In his speech, Haami expressed hope that the Bill on establishment of Sheikh-ul-Aalam University would soon be cleared by the joint select committee in Legislative Assembly and thereafter passed in Legislative Council.

Kashmir’s 14th century legendary saint, Sheikh-ul-Aalam, is reverentially popular in the Hindu community as Nund Rishi. It was this saint who launched the local form of Sufiism, known as Reshiyut or Rishiism. His 600-year-old mausoleum and monastery at Chrar-e-Sharief, had gutted in a fierce gunfight between militants and Army on May 11th, 1995. It has been reconstructed by Auqaf-e-Islami with huge governmental support in the last 16 years. Haami said that people of Wakoora in Ganderbal area had already donated 200 Kanals of their land for establishment of Sheikh-ul-Aalam University.

The ambassador of Tajkistan in India Mr. Syed Ahmad Beigh Sayeedi on the occasion said that such conferences prove helpful in spreading the message of Aulia Kiraam in real sense. He said Tajkistan is in near future organizing a conference on Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA) and said that the shrines of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and other Aulia Kiraam had been renovated and maintained in a befitting manner. He invited the people of Kashmir to visit these shrines in Khatlan.

These religious scholars in their speeches said that the Islamic teachings were very much relevant in this modern and scientific age. They also highlighted the teachings of Prophet Mohammad and appealed the people to follow his teachings in letter and spirit, which, they said, was the only solution to the human sufferings. They said that “Aulia Kiraams” have always shown the path of truth, brotherhood and tolerance, that is why they traveled thousands of miles to reach the people and apprise them about the teachings of Islam and Prophet Mohammad (SAW).