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Saturday, May 28, 2011

After siblings in Sopore, father-son duo gunned down in Handwara

Mirwaiz, Mehbooba condemn what they ignored for 20 years

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 28: Four months after killing two young daughters of a poor labourer in Sopore, suspected militants have gunned down the only bread earner of a poor family, alongwith his father, in Handwara area of North Kashmir. Even as the ruling coalition and almost all other mainstream and separatist leaders were tightlipped over the carnage till late this evening, Chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and President of the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, did not lose any time in condemning what Kashmir’s politicians have ignored with their support of silence in the last over 20 years.

Informed sources in north Kashmir told Early Times that late last evening three persons armed with AK-47 rifles barged into the house of a school-teacher, Manzoor Ahmed Mir, at Bon Watsar in Zachaldara area of Handwara. According to Manzoor’s mother, the strangers identified themselves as ‘mujahideen’ and insisted that they would take dinner and stay there for a night. After taking the dinner, the intruders asked about Manzoor and his father, Ghulam Rasool Mir. The middle-aged woman told them that the teacher was making some preparations as he was scheduled to take students and fellow teachers on a picnic on Saturday.

Thereafter, the gunmen directed the woman to get her son and husband for an interaction with the “guests”. Orders were obeyed accordingly. The gunmen directed all the inmates to lie on the floor. As soon as they did, the gunmen showered bullets from their AK-47 rifles on the 27-year-old teacher and his father. Both died on spot. After the gunmen vanished into darkness, inmates and neighbours raised commotion. Later, Police and security forces also reached the spot but there was immediately no clue available with regard to whereabouts or identity of the assassins.

Still unmarried, Manzoor had been recently regularized in government service as a teacher after working as Rehbar-e-Taleem for over four years. With three younger brothers, he was the only bread earner in the family.

Since the carnage was widely being viewed as handiwork of militants, nobody staged a protest as happens in strife-torn Valley in the wake of selective killings. Whenever Police, soldiers or counter-insurgents are perceived to be behind a slaying, politicians of all hues indulge in competitive protest. On the other hand, condemnation of killings, perceived to be done by separatist militants, continues to be a taboo, though, of late, breaking in certain sections of politics and media.

Even as most of the mainstream and separatists politicians were as usual tightlipped over the twin killings in Handwara, one each from the two camps, namely PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, issued statements in condemnation of today’s brutality.  

Over a dozen civilians have been similarly shot dead by suspected militants in Kashmir valley in the last five months of current year. Suspected militants had kidnapped two young daughters of a poor ration depot labourer, Ghulam Nabi Dar, namely Kulsooma and Aarifa, on January 30th night and shot them dead in Muslim Pir locality of apple-town Sopore, in North Kashmir. Signifying a change, most of the Valley’s politicians had severely condemned the twin murder. It was first time that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took the separatists and pseudo-separatists head-on and questioned their ignoring the brutal assassination on Twitter. In a rare development, even the hardliner separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani later paid a visit to the bereaved family.


Pattan tense as people seize Army vehicle

Early Times Report

BARAMULLA, May 28: Dozens of youth this evening clashed with Police and seized an Army vehicle after two persons sustained injuries in a road accident at Pattan, on Srinagar-Baramulla-Muzaffarabad highway.

Reports said that an Army vehicle coming from Baramulla to Srinagar collided with a Tata-407 between Pattan and Babateng. Two persons, including driver of the minibus sustained injuries and the vehicle suffered extensive damage.

Within minutes, over a hundred people converged on the highway and blocked the traffic. They alleged that even after hitting the civilian bus, troops came down and thrashed the commuters. The youngsters began shouting Islamic slogans. They even attempted to set the Army vehicle on fire.

Minutes later, when another Army Geep was driving in the direction of Police Station Pattan, people swooped on it and forced the soldiers to abandon it. Eyewitnesses said that over a dozen youth boarded the seized vehicle and drove it away on the highway. They said that troops demonstrated unprecedented restraint and they did not open fire. They approached Police for recovery of the Army vehicle which subsequently pacified the youth with the intervention of senior citizens.

Police sources said that the vehicle was recovered and handed over to Army. The vehicle involved in the accident was seized by Police. Reports described the highway township as tense but officials insisted that the trouble was over. A senior Police official said that two of the Police vehicles were damaged in the stone pelting by the mob.


Killer of twin sisters among 2 militants killed in Sopore

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 27: Dreaded Pakistani militant of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Qari Anas Lashkari, who was allegedly involved in killing of two young women in Muslim Pir area of Sopore earlier this year, got killed today alongwith another militant of the organisation in an encounter at Nowpora in Sopore outskirts. Two more militants have died in a separate encounter with security forces in Kellar area of Shopian in South Kashmir.

SP Sopore Altaf Khan told Early Times that on a specific information available with Sopore Police in the forenoon today, troops of RR 22 Bn and Sopore Police launched a cordon-and-search operation at Tantray Mohalla of Nowpora. As troops and Police crashed a bunker into the identified hideout, two of the holed up militants opened fierce gunfire and attempted to escape. Even as the duo succeeded in coming out the hideout, troops directed heavy fire and killed both the militants in a brief encounter in the open fields.

SP Sopore said that with the help of the arms and documents recovered from the duo, followed by identification by a detained militants, militants killed in the operation were identified as Lala Umais and Qari Ans Lashkari. He said that both of them were Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba who had been operating in Sopore area for quite some time.

Qari Ans, according to SP Sopore, was involved in a number of attacks on Police, security forces and civilian targets, including the assassination of two young sisters at Muslim Pir interior of the apple township earlier this year. Late in the night on January 30th this year, unidentified gunmen had kidnapped, Rehana and Kulsuma, 17 to 19 years old, daughters of Ghulam Nabi Dar and shot them dead at a distance. The twin killings had evoked widespread condemnation from all quarters. SP Sopore claimed that Qari Ans had played key role in the execution.

Meanwhile, reports from South Kashmir said that late last night troops and militants clashed in Kellar forest area of Shopian. Two unidentified militants got killed in the encounter.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why should ‘cleanest ever Govt’ go for Cabinet reshuffle?

In absence of performance indicators, it is only to accommodate Soz, Azad

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 26: Last time it was not Chief Minister Omar Abdullah but JKPCC chief Saifuddin Soz who announced allocation of portfolios of the Council of Ministers. This time, it is the AICC General Secretary incharge of Jammu & Kashmir who has publicly announced that there would be a Cabinet reshuffle in the state immediately after the Panchayat election process was over. Chief Minister, and almost everybody in top echelons of the ruling National Conference (NC), in fact, had been avoiding direct reply to this question whenever inquisitive scribes attempted a digging.

With the three vacancies (two of Congress and one of NC) existing in the Council of Ministers, speculations of a minor expansion or reshuffle in the Cabinet have been blinking for the last over one year. During the process, one of the potential contenders from Congress has been physically incapacitated. People enjoying access to corridors of power, from Srinagar to Delhi, insist that Chief Minister would have to accommodate both factions of the coalition partner. According to them, one of the Congress nominees would come from Soz and another from Azad.

Speculations are by now galore that dignity would be restored to the Azad faction by way of getting Ghulam Mohammad Saroori off the hook in the CBI investigation into a matter of impersonation and subsequently reinstating him as the Minister incharge Works. Few in politics expect former MLC and one time Minister of Social Welfare, Abdul Gani Vakil, to stage a comeback. Sources in Congress emphasize that Soz would relent in favour of Azad’s nominee only if the crown of Deputy Chief Minister was shifted to R S Chib and Tara Chand would be reduced to a simple cabinet berth. That is entirely Congress party’s in-house trouble and Chief Minister seems to be aware that he would have to simply take the two names from AICC.

In the last over 28 months, Chief Minister has not been able to make a choice between Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan and Mir Saifullah in the matter of giving representation to Kupwara district.

That makes the much speculated exercise simply an expansion. What has surprised many in political and bureaucratic circles is the phrase ‘reshuffle’---dropping Ministers, inducting new faces and changing portfolios. AICC General Secretary has indicated in no ambiguous terms that Ministers of poor performance and tainted integrity would be replaced by ‘clean hands’.

But the big question today is, as it was yesterday, as to who is clean and a good performer and who is not. It becomes all the more difficult for the leaders who have limited connection with the masses. Information Department’s press releases about the numbers and size of the delegations who meet Chief Minister at his office or a ‘public darbar’ serves as a public statement someone like Jagmohan would highlight to establish his popularity in the Valley. Leaders of the state’s single largest political party can not be eulogized by the numbers and volume of their daily visitors.

Opinions of Police, intelligence agencies and political activists---all pulling down one another---are invariably subjective in matters of the assessment of one’s integrity. The youthful, innocent head of the government is left with no option but to make believe that everything is smooth until proven rough and everybody is clean until proven tainted. “I want concrete evidence”, he has repeatedly asserted whenever he chose to speak on corruption of public servants and public men. Since there is no mechanism of audio-visual recording of one’s involvement in corruption, nobody is an A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi or Kanimozhi in our state.

Farooq Abdullah’s, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s and Ghulam Nabi Azad’s observation was different. Mufti did not unleash bloodhounds on one and all. He spread fear among businesspersons by dismantling structures of very influential people. He sent a word of caution to media by freezing advertisements of the state’s most influential newspaper and got the office of an influential daily dismantled in a matter of seconds. He sent shivers down the spine of bureaucracy when a prospective Chief Secretary, Ajit Kumar, was implicated in the infamous jute scandal and forced to go into hiding to escape arrest.

Call it cleansing or witch-hunting, these acts paid dividends to Mufti ever after he lost power. On the contrary, there appears to be no fear among Omar Abdullah’s bureaucrats, officials and Ministers. They know it well that in absence of “concrete proof”, nobody would hold them accountable. Their level of confidence has risen in view of the fact that not a single official or politician has been proceeded against in the last two-and-a-half years. In the Chief Minister’s “Year against Corruption”, everybody involved in serious matters of corruption has been not only reinstated but also rehabilitated on enviable positions. Why talk of Cabinet reshuffle and replacing tainted ones by the clean ones?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Govt’s OD remittance of Rs 2600 Cr being advanced in local priority sector

JK Bank’s March 2013 target: Rs 100,000 Cr business, Rs 1000 Cr profit

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 25: Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd, Mushtaq Ahmed, today declared that entire amount of Rs 2600 Cr, that had been lately remitted by Government of Jammu & Kashmir to liquidate its cumulative overdraft, was being advanced in the local priority sector in the state. Describing all fundamentals and portfolios of the bank as strong and stable, he asserted that target of the annual business of Rs 100,000 Cr and profit of Rs 1000 Cr would be achieved by March 2013.

Addressing his maiden news conference after taking over as Chairman and CEO of J&K Bank in October last year, Mushtaq Ahmed asserted that all negative impressions created over termination of the bank’s OD facility with the state government, coupled with Government’s MOU with Reserve Bank of India, were “unfounded”.

“There will a positive impact on the functioning of Bank. The arrangement has, in fact, enabled the bank to ensure the regulatory compliance, which will further help us realize our expansion plan. Moreover, the capital parked with government as OD will be deployed into the priority sector within the state”, he said. “It’s a completely win-win situation for J&K Bank, RBI as well as J&K Government”, he added. He said that it was mainly due to the fast swelling volume of OD that the bank had been receiving snubs from the regulator and the Government, in turn, from the bank.

After clearing the bottlenecks through proper regulatory compliance, the Bank has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan whereby scores of new Business Units and ATMs would be established particularly within the state. Employment generation, direct by recruitment and indirect through the disbursement of finances to entrepreneurs, will be the thrust area of J&K Bank’s multi-pronged strategy this year, he said. He said that the bank would achieve the target of having 600 branches and 600 ATMs by March 31, 2012.

Promotion of the idea of Self-employment would be at the center of this strategy.  To encourage the idea of self-reliance and entrepreneurship we shall follow through all the cases and will counsel, guide the entrepreneurs all along, he added.

In this regard, the bank sees the Seed Capital Fund Scheme as potential means to promote the new enterprise ethos among the youth of this state, he added. Dwelling in detail upon the Bank’s achievements and ambitions, the Chairman said, “I feel proud to say that J&K Bank is numero uno in provision coverage ratio in the country and our performance is outstanding among old private sector banks”.

He said that empowerment of the people through economic well-being had been the mission of J&K Bank. The policies and plans of the Bank, he said, were aimed at socio-economic development of the J&K State through active participation in employment generation and poverty alleviation programmes. Consequently, a silent economic transformation was steadily taking place across the state.
Credit and Deposit Growth FY 11.
According to Chairman, net advances  of the Bank have grown to Rs 26,193.64 Cr as on March 11th  from Rs 23,057.23 Cr a year ago, thereby growing at the rate of 14 %. In real terms the loan book has registered growth of around 24% as the Government of Jammu and Kashmir adjusted overdraft facility of `2300 crore in March 2011.  The Deposits grew by 20% to reach at Rs 44676 Cr, registering growth of 20% in comparison to Rs 37,237 Cr as on March 31, 2010.
Mushtaq Ahmad said: “The branch network both within and outside J&K is being suitably expanded with a view to strengthening and consolidating our position and reach. During the FY 2010-11 the Bank opened 16 new branches, thereby increasing the network of the branches to 548 in addition to 35 extension counters and 3 mobile branches. The new branches are opened in under banked rural areas of J&K State for providing basic banking facilities to unbanked population and for ensuring presence of the Bank in unrepresented areas outside J&K State. I would like to add here that 94% of the Bank’s branches covering more than 99% of its business are networked under Core Banking Solution (CBS) platform. All CBS branches have been enabled for RTGS & NEFT facilities. Further during the year 73 new ATMs have been commissioned taking the total number of ATMs to 361.”

He said, “To promote and project the idea of self-employment through entrepreneurship in J & K State is the thrust area of the Bank. In this regard we have taken a lead role in operationalising and implementing the Sheri-I-Kashmir Employment & Welfare Programme for Youth (SKEWPY) promoted by the State Government as a mission. As a hand holding measure and to achieve the objective of alternate employment generation the Bank has constituted a task force for monitoring implementation of this scheme as also to counsel and guide the un-employed youth.”

Major Highlights of FY 2010-11 ended March 31, 2011:
·        Net Profit at Rs 615 Cr up by 20% compared to Rs 512 Cr for the FY ended March 31, 2010.
·        Operating profit rose to Rs 1149.49 Cr up by 19.96% compared to Rs 958.20 Cr a year ago.
·        NIMs (Net Interest Margins) expanded to 3.62%, up by 58 bps against 3.04% for the previous FY.
·        Yield on Investments improved to 6.34 % up by 63 bps from 5.71%.
·        Cost of Deposits declined to 5.05% compared to 5.24% a year ago.
·        Low cost Demand & Saving Deposits as on Mar, 2011 at `18087 crore up 19 % from Rs 15,153 Cr a year ago. CASA Ratio was 40.48% as on Mar, 2011 compared to 40.69% last year.
·        Post tax Return on Assets improved to 1.22% from 1.20% for the previous financial year.
·        Post Tax Return on Average Net-Worth improved to 18.96% from 18.19 % recorded for the previous financial year.
·        Capital Adequacy Ratio Basel I and Basel II as on Mar, 2011 at 13.30% and 13.72% respectively.
·        Gross and Net NPA’s as percentages to Gross and Net Advances as on Mar, 2011 at 1.95% and 0.20% respectively compared to 1.97% and 0.28% as on Mar, 2010.
·        The Provision Coverage Ratio as on Mar, 2011 at 92.71% (which is much above the RBI stipulated 70%) compared to 90.13 % a year ago.
·        A Dividend of 260% recommended by the Board of Directors of the Bank compared to 220% for FY10.

Goals  for Financial Year 2012

·        The Bank aims to reach an aggregate business figure of Rs 85,000 Cr by 31-03-2012, comprising of deposits of Rs 53,000 Cr and advances of Rs 32,000 Cr.
·        Added thrust on Retail Business, especially retail / CASA deposits and retail advances during FY12.
·        Expanding the delivery channels, the Bank plans:
·        To increase the number of business units from 548 to 600
·        To take the ATM strength from 361 to 600 by March 2012.
·        All business units are planned to be rolled over on Core Banking Solution (CBS) platform.
3 militants believed dead in Handwara gunbattle         

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, May 25: In a 24-hour-long gunbattle between militants and security forces, three militants are believed dead even as only one dead body had been recovered from the debris of a destroyed hideout at Shatigam, Handwara, till late tonight.

Informed sources in North Kashmir told Early Times that troops of rashtriya Rifles 21 Bn and 52 Bn launched an operation, alongwith Handwara police, after receiving specific information regarding presence of three militants at a hide in Ganai Mohalla, Shatigam, near Laribal in Zachaldara area of handwara, late last evening. During the operation, a fierce gunbattle took place between the troops and holed up militants that continued for about 24 hours and subsided this evening.

Sources said that all three militants of the group were believed dead as troops destroyed the hideout. Four adjoining residential houses and structures reportedly caught fire and suffered extensive damage. Officials, however, maintained that only one house of Abdul Rasheed Ganai had gutted and dead body of one militant, with one AK-56 rifle, was recovered.

Troops were confident that all three holed up militants had got killed. According to them, there was no collateral damage during the gunbattle. Identities of the militants killed and their organizational affiliation was not available immediately, though reports described one of the three as a Pakistani commander of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.

Significantly, arms and ammunition recovered from the debris included at least one sophisticated GPS unit that was being used by militants for the purpose of navigation through satellite.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

After Egyptian revolution, Mehbooba wants Tamil Nadu, West Bengal impact in J&K

‘Old fossils have outlived their utility. New parties (like PDP) should rule now on’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 23: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, did not stress on gender but asserted in unambiguous terms, at a meeting of her party workers in Jammu yesterday, that Jammu and Kashmir was “ripe for a change---like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal”. Clearly, she wants the people of Jammu and Kashmir to overthrow the “old fossils”---National Conference and Congress---and transfer the power to the “young parties” like PDP. Earlier this year, she hogged headlines when she was exuberantly swayed by the Egyptian revolution and wished Lal Chowk to transform into Cairo’s
Tehrir Square

“Parties like the National Conference, established by grandfathers and dominated by sons and grandsons, have outlived their utility and relevance and have been dumped by the people in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and earlier in Bihar and UP,” she is quoted by KNS to have said. By her argument, or wish, by the way, Rahul Gandhi should dump the centurion Congress in Yamuna.

Yearning for change is but natural in human beings. Who doesn’t want “change” in Jammu and Kashmir? Sheikh Abdullah wanted it 80 years ago and got it in 1947. He continued to pursue the “change” until 1977. Others, like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, too wanted a “change”. They wanted to function as rulers and thought the Sheikh fit for the role of opposition.

Even when everybody, with the exception of Mahaz-e-Azadi founder Sofi Mohammad Akbar and the jailed JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat, stood “accommodated” during Sheikh’s regime, a youthful Sheikh Tajamul Islam called for a change “on the pattern of the Iranian Revolution (of 11th February 1979). Sometime later, he found an accompanist in Dr Ayoub Thakur. Qualifying for expulsion as a teacher at University of Kashmir, Thakur emotionally escorted a visiting Iranian clergyman from Srinagar to Budgam to Mirwaiz Farooq’s Jamia Masjid.

Gul Shah too wanted the change. The man who never contested elections wanted a “real democratic government” in place. He created one with the support of Mufti. Then Rajiv Gandhi wanted the “change”. He announced to transform Kashmir with Rs 1,000 Cr central economic package and wanted Karakul ram farming as its key feature. To make the “change” complete, he even roped in Mirwaiz Farooq. The hands-joining picture of Rajiv Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah and Mirwaiz Farooq, waving to a huge congregation at Iqbal Park, on the cover of India Today, is still in the Valley’s political archives.

Three years later, everybody was on the streets with the slogan of a change, a revolution. In just six years, Kashmiris wanted another “change”---this time restoration of pre-1990 halcyon days.

Among all dramatis personae, who didn’t get the “change”? Sheikh got it in 1947 and 1975. Mufti got it all through the decade of 1960s, missed it in 1976 but got it back in 1984 and years later in 2002. Mirwaiz laid his hands on the shreds of a change in 1987. Everybody from Yasin Malik to Syed Ali Shah Geelani enjoyed the honey of a change through 1990s. Farooq Abdullah regained it in 1996. Son, Omar Abdullah, wanted a “greater change”---everybody out from Farooq to Mufti to Soz to Azad to Hurriyat---and got it in 2009.

Sheikh Abdullah often referred to Kamal Ataturk and wanted a Turkish form of liberal Islam in Kashmir---something that impressed Gen Pervez Musharraf decades later. His successor son Farooq exposed Sheikh’s entire Cabinet to public humiliation in days of his taking over in September 1982 at Iqbal Park rally. He selected a fresh team, even before seeking mandate in June 1983. Communists wanted a revolution like in China, Russia, Cuba and Vietnam. Tajamul and Thakur wanted an Iranian-type revolution. Taking lead over clergymen, Mehbooba called for an Egyptian-type revolution. She has now compromised to the level of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Mehbooba’s discomfort (of being in opposition) is understandable as most of India’s “revolutionary” women---Sheila Dixit, Mayawati, Mamta Banerjee, J Jayalalithaa---have realized their dream of being the Chief Minister. But, she must realize that she is better placed than the more “revolutionary” Uma Bharti and retaining the privilege of being in J&K what Sushma Swaraj is at the national level.

The change Mehbooba wants would perhaps never come from Egypt, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. It has to generate within and she has a whole empty field to make her presence felt. What she views as “change” is simply a continuity for an ordinary state subject.

The Abdullahs and the Muftis have indeed changed. So have our own Hurriyat leaders. With exceptions like Fazal Haq Qureishi, they have all enjoyed the best of life while promising “change” to the poor Kashmiri. Corruption, nepotism, favouritism, lack of accountability, unemployment and red-tapism have been a nation-wide or perhaps Asia-wide phenomena. A gradual change has been visible all through the country but everything has remained unchanged from Lakhanpur to Uri and Nobra. Aren’t all of our politicians part of the “deadwood” she is cursing in Jammu?


Monday, May 23, 2011

KU’s new VC is a geologist from Delhi

Director of SKIMS likely to be appointed by month-end

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 23: Prof Talat Ahmad, who functioned as Professor at Department of Geology, University of Delhi, for the last eight years, has been appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Kashmir. He has accepted the appointment and will be joining in Srinagar on June 1st.

Raj Bhawan sources revealed to Early Times that Governor Narendra Nath Vohra, who is also Chancellor of the University of Kashmir, approved Prof Talat’s appointment on the recommendation of a search committee headed by former Member of Planning Commission, Prof Abid Hussain. Following Prof Talat’s acceptance, Raj Bhawan issued the notification of his appointment this evening.

Prof Talat confirmed to Early Times from his New Delhi residence over telephone that he had accepted the offer of his appointment as KU’s VC and communicated it to Governor of Jammu & Kashmir. He said that he subsequently received the order of appointment and he would be joining his new assignment in Srinagar on June 1st.

Sources said that the search committee, headed by Prof Abid Hussain, who also functioned as India’s Ambassador in Washington DC, had been constituted by Governor on November 10th. Former VC of Central University Hyderabad, Prof Syed Ehtisham Hasnain, and former VC of Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Prof G K Chadha, functioned as its members. It submitted a panel of three names to the Chancellor who finally picked up Prof Talat today.

After his M Sc in Geology from Aligargh Muslim University in 1977 and M Phil in Ore Petrology from JNU in 1980, Prof Talat completed his Ph D in Igneous Petrology from JNU in 1985. He subsequently did a Post Doctoral Fellowship with University of Leicester in 1988-89, another Post Doctoral Fellowship with University of Cambridge in 1997-98 and yet another Post Doctoral Fellowship with Nagoya University (Japan) 1999-2000.

He joined Geological Survey of India as Geologist in February 1980 and later worked as a Scientist-B withWadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun from 16-7-1984 to 3-9-1989. He held different academic and research positions and fellowships with a number of universities and later worked as a Scientist-C with Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun. He has been functioning as Professor at Department of Geology, University of Delhi, continuously since 31-10-2003.

Prof Talat received the prestigious National Mineral Award, 1994, from the Government of India. He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and a Life Member of Mineralogical Society of India.

Prof Riyaz Punjabi’s three-year term as KU’s VC ended on January 7th, 2011. As required under rules, he continued in chair till the appointment of his successor. He will be now demitting office on May 31st. The other day only, Prof Punjabi has been appointed as a member of the Working Group on higher education by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development.

Presently there are as many as nine universities in Jammu & Kashmir. VC for the lately established Central University Jammu has not been appointed in the last one year, mainly due to the opposition of a section of Jammu academia to the proposed nomination of Prof Amitabh Matoo---a former VC of the University of Jammu.

Among the remaining eight universities, SKUAST-J, SKUAST-K and now University of Kashmir, have VCs from outside the state. University of Jammu, Mata Veshnu Devi University, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Rajouri, Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipore and Central University Kashmir have all local VCs. Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, (SKIMS), headed by its Director, has also the status of a deemed university from Medical Council of India. Consequent upon the retirement of Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar on April 30th, process is currently underway to select the new Director for SKIMS.

According to well-placed authoritative sources, a search committee, headed by Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, has zeroed in on a panel of three names---Prof and Head of Department of Hospital Administration and Medical Superintendent Dr Syed Amin Tabish, Prof and Head of Department of Gastroenterology Dr Shaukat Ali Zargar and Prof and Head of Department of Cardiology Dr Khursheed Iqbal.

Eight candidates have been interviewed by the committee that also included founder-director of SKIMS, Prof Nagpal, as a member. Sources said that Chief Secretary has recently submitted a panel of three names to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who also happens to be the Chairman of SKIMS Governing Body. He is likely to make the final selection and issue the orders of appointment before May 31.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

US losing the battle in Afghanistan, India in J&K: Mirwaiz

Bilal Lone urges separatists to move beyond Friday speeches

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 22: Leaders of so-called moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference today said in one voice that “freedom from India” was the writing on the wall in Kashmir and nobody could stop the Kashmiris from achieving their political goal. Much glorified Chairman of the conglomerate, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said at a remembrance rally that United States of America (USA) was losing the battle against the Islamists in Afghanistan and India was meting the same fate in Jammu & Kashmir.

Bilal Gani Lone’s faction of Peoples Conference, which is an executive council constituent of Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference, had for the first time in the last nine years organized a public rally at Kralpora in Kupwara district to remember the PC’s founder Abdul Gani Lone on occasion of his death anniversary today. Mainstream-turned-separatist leader, Lone had been gunned down by suspected militants on occasion of Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq’s death anniversary at Eidgah Grounds in Srinagar on May 21, 2002. Hurriyat founder Mirwaiz Umar’s father, Mirwaiz Farooq, had been shot dead by suspected militants at his home in Nageen locality on May 21, 1990.

It was first time in the last 20 years that the authorities did not allow Mirwaiz and his faction of the Hurriyat to organize a remembrance rally at his father’s tomb in Eidgah yesterday. Authorities enforced undeclared curfew in downtown Srinagar. Amid shutdown, people did not put up any resistance. Contrary to the apprehensions of many in politics, bureaucracy and media, the day passed off peacefully. Authorities maintained with palpable confidence that nothing “posing threat to eight-month-long spell of peace and a bustling tourist season” would be allowed in the capital city.

Government, however, did not prevent the separatists from holding and addressing a remembrance rally in Kupwara today. Sons of both the slain leaders had called upon their followers to join the congregation in large numbers.

In his key address, Mirwaiz Umar dismissed New Delhi’s seven-month-long process of “finding the Kashmir problem’s solution through interlocution” as an exercise in total futility. “These interlocutors are simply wasting their time and energy. They have absolutely no role in solving the Kashmir dispute”, Mirwaiz told his audiences. He asserted that Kashmir was a “bigger problem” that, according to him, could be resolved only through tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris. He warned against the “nonsense” of amalgamating governance and political issues and claimed that it would only expand the confusion and delay the resolution.

Mirwaiz claimed that Azadi---freedom from India---was the “only slogan” in Jammu & Kashmir and the Kashmiris would realize their political goal, sooner or later. According to him, India needed to abandon its “obstinacy” and engage the Hurriyat, alongwith Pakistan, on a round-table if it was serious in finding the lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis. He said that India had tested many of its tactics, including barbaric force, but never succeeded in taking the Kashmiris away from their “struggle for freedom”.

“I am telling you people today that America is losing its battle in Afghanistan and India is meting the same fate in Kashmir. The day is not far away when the forces of occupation would return to their home and the Kashmiris would win freedom”, the high-spirited cleric-politician shouted. He asserted that Hurriyat would soon announce a fresh programme of laying the foundation stone of the “Wall of Martyrs” at Eidgah, in Srinagar.

Addressing the rally, host Bilal Gani Lone urged the Kashmiris to come forward for the protection of their leaders. He referred to the assassination of leaders like Mirwaiz Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone and Maulana Shaukat Shah, and questioned the continuance of a leaderless movement. “We need to move after 21 years of the struggle. It is high time, (separatist) leaders shall have to move beyond delivering their weekly speeches at Friday prayers congregations”, Bilal said.

He said it was high time that the “enemies within” were weakening the freedom struggle much more than the enemies outside. He was particularly critical of the role of some “newspaper columnists” and asked his followers to neutralize them with forceful write ups.


DGP ignores Home, Law in IGP Farooq’s joining back at P Hqs

“No knowledge of IGP’s joining”, Principal Secretary Home and Adv General

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 21: Even as everybody from the state Home Department to the union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and from the state Law Department to Advocate General, appears to be in the dark, Police Headquarters here have not only entertained IGP Farooq Ahmed’s joining report but also allotted a room to him, pending his posting by the state government.

Informed sources revealed that Farooq Ahmed, whose reinstatement had been ordered by Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar of Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Thursday last, produced his joining report to DGP Kuldeep Khoda at Police Headquarters on Friday. DGP entertained the joining report. A room was subsequently allotted to the Police official, pending his posting by the state Cabinet.

“My joining report has been entertained and a room has been allotted to me. I am very much on duty”, Farooq Ahmed told Early Times over telephone. While as DGP and IGP incharge at P Hqs were not available for confirmation, DGP’s PRO, Mohammad Shafi Qazi, said that Farooq Ahmed was back in service with the submission of his joining report at Police Headquarters.

Authoritative sources, however, insisted that Government had neither received the court order nor taken a decision whether the official would be allowed to join or an appeal would be filed against the single bench’s order. These sources said that a decision would be taken by the state government in consultation with the MHA which was managing the central police services. These sources viewed the IGP’s joining back as “extremely surprising” in view of the fact he had been allowed to join back within hours of the single bench order which granted a week’s time to the government for implementation.

Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, maintained that he and his department had no knowledge of the IGP’s joining at the Police Headquarters. “We have heard that Court has set aside the termination order we had issued in February in consequence of a communication from the MHA. But, we have not received the order, let alone studying it and processing it further for necessary decision by the competent authority”, Mr Sharma told Early Times. He elaborated that the issue of change in Farooq Ahmed’s date of birth had been raised by MHA and the state Home Department had subsequently issued an order with the approval of the state government whereby the official was treated as retired from service on 28-02-2009.

“After receiving and studying the court order, Department of Home would discuss all implications with Department of Law. Thereafter, Chief Minister, in his capacity as Minister of Home, would take necessary decision in consultation with the union Ministry of Home Affairs”, Mr Sharma said. He insisted that Civil Secretariat had no knowledge of the text of court order or the IGP’s joining back at Police Headquarters.

Advocate General, Mohammad Ishaq Qadiri, agreed fully with Principal Secretary Home but informed that late in the afternoon today, Government managed to obtain a copy of the court order. He said that as of now it had neither been studied nor brought to the notice of Chief Minister/ Home Minister Mr Omar Abdullah or Minister of Law Ali Mohammad Sagar. He endorsed Mr Sharma’s opinion and asserted that the decision of implementing the single bench order and going in appeal against it would be taken by the Ministers incharge Home and Law departments after necessary consultation with MHA.

As reported previously, MHA in February this year had sought an explanation from the state government as to how Farooq Ahmed had been continuing in service beyond his date of superannuation which, as recorded in MHA and all files of IPS induction of the official, was 28-02-2009 on the basis of his date of birth (5-2-1949). State Government in turn ordered termination of IGP’s service on 18-02-2011 with effect from 28-02-2009 afternoon.

Then posted as IGP Security, Farooq Ahmed challenged Govt Order dated 18-02-2011 in J&K High Court. He prayed for annulment of the impugned order with the argument that the state Government had conceded his petition of changing his date of birth from 05-02-1949 to 25-11-1951. He claimed that, by virtue of orders issued in his favour in 1995, he would lawfully continue to be in service till 30-11-2011. On May 19th, 2011, single bench of J&K High Court set aside the state government’s order and ordered the IGP’s reinstatement “within seven days”.

The termination order dated February 18th, 2011, stated that Farooq Ahmad was inducted into the IPS by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India vide notification no 14011/17 Police Service (IPS) dated September 4,1995 on the basis of his recorded date of birth as 5.2.1949.

It stated that after induction into the IPS, Farooq Ahmad ceased to be a member of the J&K Police (Gazetted) Service, and as such his service conditions had to be regulated as per the rules governing the All India Services and not as per the provisions of J&K Civil Service Regulations, 1956, as amended from time to time.

It further stated that the sub-rule (3) & (4) of rule 16-A of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 provided that in relation to a person to whom sub-rule (2) does not apply, the date of birth as recorded in the service book or other similar official document maintained by the concerned government shall be accepted by the Central Government.

Farooq Ahmed had been initially appointed as Deputy Superintendent of Police(Dy SP) vide Government Order No: 2233-GAD of 1977 Dated December 15, 1977 in the J&K Police (Gazetted) Service.

MHA officials in New Delhi insisted that they had no knowledge of the J&K High Court order setting aside the J&K Government’s termination order until Friday evening. Offices were closed on Saturday/Sunday due to holiday. They said that MHA would go in appeal against the J&K High Court order even if the state government or Police Headquarters had entertained the order and allowed the official to join.