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Friday, May 13, 2011

GAD keeps Raj Bhawan in the dark
over FIRs against DDK Srinagar
Director Rafeeq Masoodi

CBI-tainted DD official getting State Award from Governor

13 mediapersons, 12 litterateurs, 12 artists, 10 sportspersons, 9 public servants among 71 award recipients

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 13: In a unique incident of lowering the prestige of the offices of Governor as well as Chief Minister, General Administration Department (GAD) has included Director of Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, among 65 outstanding personalities who will be receiving the most prestigious State Award of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir at the hands of Governor, N N Vohra, at an investiture ceremony here on Saturday. On serious allegations of corruption in DDK Srinagar, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered two FIRs against Dr Masoodi and the investigation is underway but GAD officials have kept both, Governor as well as Chief Minister, in the dark about the doubtful integrity of the official who has sneaked into the eminent personalities with the blessings of a former Chief Minister.

Commissioner-Secretary GAD has invited 65 eminent personalities and half-a-dozen NGOs for receiving State Award at an impressive investiture ceremony at SKICC tomorrow. As demanded by protocol, these prestigious State Awards would be given away by Governor. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would be the Chief Guest and Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, as the Guest of Honour. Most of the state Ministers, legislators, senior bureaucrats, mediapersons and representatives of the civil society are expected to attend the ceremony being held after four years. Over five dozen State Award recipients--- for years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011---include 13 mediapersons, 12 litterateurs, 12 artists and performing artists, 10 sportspersons and 9 public servants.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that GAD officials have included Dr Masoodi among the recipients notwithstanding the fact that CBI has been conducting an investigation against him for his alleged involvement in corruption after registering two FIRs in Srinagar. State Awards are being announced every year on the eve of Republic Day in favour of eminent personalities, entrepreneurs and non-profit bodies for their excellence in 11 different categories. Dr Masoodi’s name figures under the unscheduled category of “Special Award” among recipients of year 2008.

Sources revealed that Dr Masoodi’s name was included among the recipients at the behest of then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, shortly before his coalition government ended dramatically in July 2008. Masoodi had been removed as Director of Radio Kashmir Srinagar over charges of his “links to anti-national elements” and posted at Prasar Bharti headquarters. Immediately after Azad took over as Chief Minister of J&K in November 2005, he reportedly managed to get Masoodi back to Srinagar in breach of advisories of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and appointed him as Secretary of the State-controlled J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. He was subsequently rehabilitated as Director of DDK Srinagar.

However, Azad’s family sources strongly disputed reports of Masoodi’s links to the Union Minister of Health and maintained that the official had been managing things “of his own”. They pointed out that Masoodi was right hand man of the unceremoniously removed CEO of Prasar Bharti, B S Lalli, as well as former Director General of Doordarshan, Aruna Sharma. They further pointed out that Masoodi siphoned off over Rs 4 Crore of Doordarshan funds to the family members of a dismissed official of J&K State Forest Corporation (SFC) who had played a key role in 2007-08 in running a virulent character assassination campaign against Azad and his brothers (forest contractors).

While conducting two raids on DDK Srinagar on 18-05-2009 and 10-06-2009, CBI had registered case FIR No: 02/A/2009/CBI/Sgr against Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, two more DD officials associated with the acquisition, namely Ghulam Hassan Dar and Bashir Ahmed Mir, besides six private producers, namely Syed Gulzar Rizvi, Javed Ahmed Shah, G M Magami, Altaf Marazi, Ashfaq Marazi and Irfan Marazi.

During the course of investigation, CBI sleuths seized 1914 tapes, containing as many as 9,591 programme segments, purportedly acquired from the group of six private producers for the 5-days-a-week breakfast show “Subhai Subhai”. Surprisingly, in the DDK Srinagar records, there was no entry of the tapes deposited in the Producer Ghulam Hassan Dar's office. Dar instantly revealed to CBI that he had received and dumped the tapes on specific verbal and written orders of Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Masoodi.

During the course of the investigation, Dr Masoodi's involvement was established with foolproof evidence and corroboration from scores of witnesses, including Dar and almost all the private producers interrogated. Procured at the rate of Rs 5,000 per segment from a particular group of the private producers, in total violation of the codal procedure and without any public notification, the consignment involved payment claim of Rs 4.80 Crore as against the annual budget of Rs 1.50 Crore for the programme. Process of the payment was clandestinely underway when CBI acted on written complaints and launched the investigation. As many as 43 fake banners (production firms) were found to have been created and operated by the accused DD officials and the group of private producers.

On March 8, 2010, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, C M Jatua informed the Rajya Sabha that the CBI was probing into the allegation of malpractices by Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, in bulk purchase of tapes. In a written reply, he said that a complaint had been received against Dr Masoodi alleging that he purchased tapes in bulk containing 9591 segments of programme "Subhai Subhai" from private produces to "obtain maximum amount of illegal gratification." Jatua stated that the investigation report was "awaited" from the CBI.

After nearly one year, CBI registered case FIR No: 4 of 2010 against the DD officials headed by Masoodi. It conducted raids on the offices and residences of several officials, including head of the Music Section Kausar Parveen, and seized dozens of cheque books and ATM cards of the fraudulently operated bank accounts. It surfaced within weeks that huge amounts of money had been withdrawn by fraudulent means on account of payment of musical programmes never produced in conformity with codes and procedures.

With the investigation in both FIRs being in progress, GAD has invited Masoodi for receiving the State Award from Governor on May 14th at SKICC.

Early Times made attempts to learn from GAD and Raj Bhawan whether the CBI’s accused Dr Masoodi was also receiving the State Award from Governor and why Raj Bhawan and Chief Minister’s office had been kept in the dark over the CBI cases against the accused official. Principal Secretary to Governor, Raj Kumar Goel, was not reachable. Raj Bhawan sources said that he was accompanying His Excellency on a visit to the holy Amarnath Cave. Commissioner-Secretary GAD, Mohammad Sayeed Khan, was reachable but he did not respond to the call. Later, Early Times sent the question by SMS at 5.04 p.m. which was delivered on mobile phones of both, Goel as well as Khan, but neither of them responded till late tonight.

Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, Commissioner-Secretary PDD, Basharat Ahmed Dhar, Commissioner Excise and Commercial Taxes, Ghulam Ahmed Pir, Commissioner-Secretary Finance, Sudhanshu Pandey and retired KAS officer, Ahmedullah Shah, are among 9 public servants who will be receiving the State Award tomorrow.

Thirteen recipients from media include Nazir Masoodi of NDTV, Masood Hussain of Economic Times, photojournalist of Daily Excelsior Ashok Sodhi, who died in an encounter between militants and security forces (year 2009), Editors of daily Srinagar Times and daily Aftab, Khwaja Sonullah Bhat and Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, who passed away both in 2009, Arun Joshi of Hindustan Times, Nidhi Razdan of NDTV, Mahrukh Anayat of Times Now TV, Iftikhar Gilani of Kashmir Times, Maqsood Ahmed of Radio Kashmir Srinagar (year 2010), Mohammad Saleem Pandit of Times of India and PTI’s former Jammu bureau chief, M K Bangroo (2011).

Prominent singers and music composers in the group include the legendary Raj Begum, Shameem Dev Azad, Kailash Mehra, Ghulam Mohammad Saznawaz, Krishna Kumari and Abhay Rustum Sopori. Eminent broadcaster and former head of Radio Kashmir’s Drama Section, Pran Kishore, Prof Rehman Rahi, Shiv Nath, Tashi Ragbyas, Abdul Rasheed Nazki, Prof Sewa Singh, Prof Veena Gupta, Prof Lalit Magotra, Mashaal Sultanpuri and famous poet Rasul Pompur, who died last week, are also among the recipients of the State Award.


Name of recipient mediaperson
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal
Daily Excelsior
Bashir Ahmed Bashir (Cartoonist)
Srinagar Times


Nazir Masoodi

Masood Hussain
Economic Times

Sameer Kaul

Ashok Sodhi (Photojournalist)
Daily Excelsior

Khwaja Sonaullah Bhat

Sofi Ghulam Mohammad
Srinagar Times

Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times

Nidhi Razdan

Mahrukh Anayat
Times Now TV

Iftikhar Gilani
Kashmir Times

Maqsood Ahmed
Radio Kashmir
Mohammad Saleem Pandit
Times of India

M K Bangroo

16 mediapersons are recipients of State Award since it was instituted for the first time during Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government in J&K in 2003

J&K PSC victim in KAS among 100 IAS toppers of 2011

920 selected for Civil Services out of 2.69 Lakh candidates

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 11: Sarvjeet Soodan of Jammu’s Ranbir Singhpura area kept himself better placed by staying away from J&K Public Service Commission’s selection of Veterinary Assistant Surgeons (VASs) in 2010. When the results came out on February 17th and Soodan found most of the state’s brilliant veterinary graduates and post-graduates missing in the selection list, he felt pained but relieved in the sense that he had saved a lot of his time, energy and money.

He, however, could not resist the temptation of appearing in the PSC’s Combined Civil Services examination. Finding himself among a limited number of the candidates who got 4-digit marks in the Mains (1024 out of 1950), Soodan (Roll No: 0901312) was certain of his placement in the high-prestige junior scale of Kashmir Administrative Service. Notwithstanding his best performance in the Personality Test, PSC selectors did not award him more than 135 (out of 250). Consequently, he plummeted from the top in the Mains to the bottom of the final selection and was placed at the tail-end of the candidates selected for the least sought-after J&K Accounts (Gazetted) Service.

This was in sharp contrast to a PSC member’s daughter, Shadab Makhdoomi and her friend, Tehleela, who ranked at the top of the viva with 205 marks each. Both were around a hundred points below Soodan and stood nowhere among first 200 in the selection list of the Mains.

But when the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) today declared the final results of the Civil Services examination 2010-11, Soodan found himself among the first 100 toppers of the IAS. Whose evaluation is wrong---UPSC’s or J&K PSC’s? Better leave to the readers.  Last year’s IAS topper, Dr Shah Faisal must be thanking his stars for not exposing himself to an apparent humiliation by not appearing in the KAS.

Mohammad Aijaz Farazi of Poonch is another PSC victim who made it to the Central Civil Services today despite getting paltry 20-odd marks in the ‘interview’. He ranks at 794 in the UPSC selection list but still feels it better than working in an inferior Accounts service of the Combined Civil Services in J&K.  Aijaz is better placed than Israr Ahmed of Poonch who got 1130 (two points above the final cut off level of 1128) in the CCS Mains alone. He ranked at 6th position of merit in the Mains list but fell off to 150th position in the final selection as the PSC selectors granted him poor 20.

Dr Lokesh, who did his MBBS from Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu in 2008, crossed the magic figure of 1000 in the CCS Mains. He too was granted a poor of 30 marks in the viva and fell off to the tail-end of the final selection list. He is now in the inferior J&K Accounts (Gazetted) Service.

PSC’s officials and members have been arguing that even the most brilliant candidates do cut a sorry figure in the interview. The candidates, on the other hand, have maintained that there could be exceptions and the PSC’s “pattern” of dropping most of the high-merit candidates and selecting blue-blooded boys and girls is not natural. By and large, their perception is that PSC’s members and officials are patronized at top political and bureaucratic levels and obliging their masters is a natural phenomenon. “How do the selectors know exactly how much marks are required for an influential candidate to pass the viva?”, asked a female candidate who insisted that in over 70% cases, it was “just a fixed match”.

Meanwhile, UPSC today declared final results of the central Civil Services examination. Four to five of the 962 selectees are reportedly from Jammu & Kashmir state.

A total number of 5,47,698 candidates applied for this examination, 2,69,036 candidates appeared for the Preliminary examination, which was conducted on May 23, 2010.  12,491 candidates qualified for the Main written examination held in October-November, 2010. 2589 candidates were short listed for the Personality Test conducted in March-April, 2011.

Finally, 920 candidates (717 male and 203 female) have been recommended for appointment to the IAS, IFS, IPS and other Central Services.

Ms  S Divyadharshini (Roll NO.014421), a female candidate, has topped the Civil Services Examination, 2010. She has done B.A., B.L.(Hons.) from Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai. This is her second attempt.

The second ranker is Ms Sweta Mohanty (Roll NO.316736). She has done B.Tech (Computer Science) from GRIET, JNTU, Hyderabad. This is her third attempt.

RV Varun Kumar (Roll No.021490), is the topper among male candidates. He has secured overall third rank. He has done BDS from Ragas Dental College, Chennai. This is his third attempt. The Top 25 candidates consist of 20 males and 5 females.

Top 25 candidates comprise of 15 candidates belonging to Engineering; 5 candidates belonging to Commerce, Management, Humanities, Science & Social Sciences; and 5 candidates belonging to Medical Science background. Out of the Top 25 candidates, 8 have made to the merit list in their first attempt, 4 in second attempt, 9 in third attempt, 3 in fourth attempt and 1 in fifth attempt. Of the 920 candidates recommended, 28 are physically challenged candidates ¡V 14 orthopaedically challenged; 5 visually impaired and 9 hearing impaired.


Geelani's biographer arrested for conviction in Wanchoo murder

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar May 10: Lecturer of Department of Persian in University of Kashmir, Dr Mohammad Shafi Khan, has been arrested by Special Operation Group (SOG) Srinagar after evading arrest for more than seven years. Dr Khan, who assumed the pseudonym of Dr Shafi Shariati, and shot into prominence with his biography on the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, had jumped the bail and gone underground after Supreme Court of India held him guilty and awarded him life term in Hriday Nath Wanchoo assassination case.

Even as Geelani has raised the issue of Khan's "kidnapping" through repetitive statements since earlier this week and Government has maintained total silence and ignored the allegation, informed sources revealed to Early Times that the fugitive separatist ideologue has been arrested by SOG sleuths from his Srinagar hideout.

None of the Police officials was available for comment. SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, picked up the phone but insisted that he could talk only after he was free from an official meeting late tonight. He did not respond till filing of this report.

A resident of Haari Wanin village in Khansahab- Beerwah belt of Budgam district, Khan had joined PG Department of Persian after completing his Ph D in Persian literature in late 1980s. In 1991, he joined radical militant outfit, Jamiatul Mujahideen, founded by his neighbour, Hilal Ahmed Mir alias Nasirul Islam of Rawalpora Beerwah village. Nasirul Islam had launched JuM after he functioned as Hizbul Mujahideen's first chief (Amir-e-Aala) in 1990-91 but broke away with co-founders of Hizb over the move of declaring Hizb as the guerrilla arm of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Ideological hardliner JuM professed what officials called intellectual terrorism. JuM chief Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, who is also detained Dukhtaraan-e-Millat founder Chairperson Asiya Andrabi's husband, was arrested and tried, alongwith Dr Shafi Khan, for the duo's alleged involvement in the 1993 assassination of noted human rights activist, H N Wanchoo, at Balgarden Karan Nagar, just 200 yards from DGP's office.

Both the accused succeeded in getting released on bail from J&K High Court. Even as Dr Khan went underground, Faktoo alias Dr Qasim was arrested at IGI Airport on his arrival from London in 1999. Dr Farooq Abdullah's government went in appeal against High Court judgment to Supreme Court and pursued the matter assiduously till the apex court declared Faktoo and Khan guilty and awarded them both with imprisonment. Faktoo has been continuously in jail since 1999. During his imprisonment in Srinagar Central Jail, he has completed his Ph D in Islamic Studies.

Dr Khan surfaced and joined back his position at University of Kashmir when Prof M Y Qadiri was the Vice Chancellor. He however went permanently underground after the apex court pronounced the judgment. Sources at KU said that Dr Khan's job remained intact till date but he never turned up at the campus.

Dr Khan shot into prominence when Hr published Geelani's biography in Urdu, titled "Syed Ali Geelani: Aek Tehreek, Aek Tareekh" in 2009. The book became highly controversial as Dr Shafi Shariati described Geelani as a charismatic leader and separatist icon but unleashed virulent criticism over Jamaat-e-Islami's act of isolating Geelani during the Hurriyat split in 2003. He viewed it as strengthening of the Indian "occupation" on Jammu and Kashmir.

Geelani broke away from Jamaat after over 50 years of his association with the organisation in 2004 and floated his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, principal constituent of Hurriyat (G).