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Saturday, June 11, 2011

DDK Srinagar officials’ rich harvesting on Krishi Bhawan

Daily embezzlement of Rs 14,000 in Agriculture Ministry’s farming programme

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 11: Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar (DDK) has gained notoriety over truckloads of fraudulently acquired drama serials and musical programmes, particularly in the last three years. Insiders have now revealed that the producers had been looting funds worth Crores of Rupees provided by union Ministry of Agriculture for daily farming programmes in Kashmiri language.

Fully sponsored by union Ministry of Agriculture, daily farming programme in Kashmiri “Krishi Darshan” has proved to be a goldmine for the officials at DDK Srinagar for the last over eight years. Producers have become multi-millionaires and their lifestyles have changed overnight after they became associated with this particular programme. While as Ministry, according to sources, has been providing Rs 1 lakh daily for this production, budget of Rs 20,000 remains reserved for outsourcing portion.

According to well-placed sources in DDK Srinagar, one privately engaged cameraman, Nisar Ahmed, has been preparing the daily programme with the help of his obsolete Mini DV and a private editing table with total expenditure of Rs 6,000. Daily earnings of the DDK producer, 50% of which he shares with Director of the station, are to the tune of Rs 14,000.

Giving a break-up, sources said, Rs 1,000 a day was being paid to the cameraman, Rs 1,000 to the anchor who is also being used to write the script and Rs 1500 to Rs 1800 to the owner. Producer claims Rs 1000 a day on account of script writing daily which is drawn in the name of his trusted relatives/ acquaintances who have never seen a script, let alone writing it. An amount of Rs 4500 is claimed daily on account of editor’s charges/editing table. Even as cheques of the amount are drawn separately in the name of five different editing tables, entire job is conducted by only one.

With minor deduction as commission, ranging between Rs 200 to 300, owners of the fake editing tables later return the amounts drawn to the producer. Even if the producer pays Rs 1800 to the editor and Rs 200 more to other editing tables in rotation every day, saving of Rs 2500 accrues on account of post-production alone. Media International alone has a non-linear editing system while as none of the other rotational payees has this sophisticated facility in place.

Segments of the programme, under a memorandum of understanding with Ministry of Agriculture, are supposed to be filmed on state-of-the-art DVC Pro-50 format. However, the cameraman uses his worn out Mini DV and later takes the output on DVC Pro-50. Cost of the DVC Pro-50 tape is around Rs 600 to Rs 900 in Srinagar.  Mini DV tapes sell between Rs 80 and Rs 150 a piece. One-run tapes are freely available even for Rs 50 to 70 each. Thus, technical quality is the first casualty.

Besides, the subject experts are paid Rs 1,000 each. “By conservative estimates, total expenditure on production/ post-production of each programme is less than Rs 6,000. Payment of Rs 20,000 is drawn on account of different fake heads in the name of particular nominees. Producer’s daily earning from just this programme is Rs 14,000”, said an informed source. He revealed that the producer shares 40 to 50% of the earnings with the head of the station”.

Insiders further revealed that details of only the anchor and one or two experts are reflected on the main cue sheet. According to these sources, DDK Srinagar officials later make a parallel cue sheet to record details of all payees that is not accessible for the common people or other officials of the station. “Duty Officers at the station are part and parcel of the embezzlement. They claim their share and record the desired certificate in the log book every day, justifying payment of Rs 20,000”, said an official. Yet another insisted that the daily budget was around Rs 50,000 and funds worth Rs 40,000 were being swindled every day on account of producing only Krishi Darshan.

Mufti Riyaz is currently executive producer of ‘Krishi Darshan’ but two particular producers, namely Shammi Shayir and Nasir Mansoor, have been the key beneficiaries in the last six years. Producers Ghulam Nabi Dar and Abdul Rashid Bhat, both retired now, had allegedly made huge earnings in the initial years of the programme. Each of these producers has raised fortunes, far disproportionate to his salary and other known sources of income. None of them, however, agrees to make a comment in explanation.

Viewers have observed that footage of agriculture crops, sheep and animal husbandry environs and livestocks have been repeatedly used in “Krishi Darshan” , sometimes dozens of times in the cycle of just three to four months. However, payment of fresh footage is fraudulently claimed every time.

Even as Producer Nasir Mansoor has been lately replaced by Mufti Riyaz in Krishi Darshan, he has successfully grabbed DDK’s own daily farming programme “Butraat” for consideration of higher benefits. Auditors are unlikely to point out the huge difference but records are clear at DDK Srinagar that a former Produce of the programme, namely Mohammad Yousuf Parray, prepared “Butraat” for mere Rs 6,000. His successors, namely Nazir Dara and now Nasir Mansoor, claimed stupendous amount of Rs 40,000 for each episode of “Butraat”.

Insiders revealed that, much like “Krishi Darshan”, there was frequent and unchecked usage of footage. Sometimes, full edited segments were being re-utilized in gross violation of codes. “All these frauds and brazen embezzlements have been pointed out by viewers as well as private producers and intelligentsia. But, there has been no action as Directors of DDK Srinagar have been the beneficiaries of the embezzled money with the Producer on 50:50 basis”, said an official who has completed over 25 years of his service at Srinagar station. According to him illegitimate earnings were Rs 14,000 from “Krishi Darshan” and Rs 40,000 from “Butraat”. That makes it a scam of just Rs 2 Cr a year but enough for law to take necessary action.


Friday, June 10, 2011

FIR lodged against BBC producer

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 10: In a significant development, Srinagar Police have filed a
criminal complaint against BBC’s producer, Nayeema Ahmed Mehjoor, for allegedly holding Police responsible for the killing of a civilian near Press Enclave here on June 6th. On her Facebook wall on June 7th, Mrs Mehjoor had reportedly posted a question that has been interpreted by Police as a matter of “spreading disaffection” against it.

SHO Kothibagh, Inspector Shafeeq Ahmed, told Early Times that case FIR No: 51 0f 2011 Dated 09-06-2011 under section 66-A of Information Technology Act was filed against a producer of BBC Urdu Service, Nayeema Ahmed Mehjoor, yesterday. He said that the FIR was lodged on the basis of a Facebook post by the broadcaster in which she had approvingly suggested with a note of interrogation that the civilian, Mohammad Afzal Khan of Niharpora Sopore, had been killed by Police. SHO said that the post was tantamount to defaming Police and provoking people for violence against Police.

If established in a court of law, the offence would make the London-based Kashmiri broadcaster liable to punishment of three years of imprisonment besides fine in cash.

“Why did Police kill this businessman at Lalchowk today? Any reason?”, Nayeema had posted on her wall to generate a discussion.

Earlier today, IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, revealed at a news conference that Police had taken suo moto cognizance and filed FIR against the BBC producer. He said it was wrong to link the shooting at the Lal Chowk as revival of militancy in the summer capital.

“It is not a militancy related case. It was a criminal conspiracy arising out of a land dispute in which a released militant was involved," IGP said. He said involvement of released militants in criminal activities was worrisome.
It is leading to criminalization in the society which needs to be stopped,” Sahai said.

IGP said three persons, namely Farooq Ahmad Dar, Parvaiz Ahmad Tantray and Shabir Ahmad Parray had been arrested by the Police in the case so far. “Weapon of offence (Pistol) has also been recovered at their instance. Search of other persons involved in the conspiracy is underway,” IGP claimed. He claimed that Police achieved the breakthrough within three days and established that a released militant of Hizbul Mujahideen, Farooq Ahmed Dar, had gunned down the civilian as part of a conspiracy to grab his money.

Meanwhile, talking to KNS over phone from London, Nayeema Mehjoor rejected the police claims. “I didn’t blame police on Facebook, but quoted some media reports as why police will kill the businessman. Police should have looked into what I had written on the Facebook and then reacted. As a journalist, I am working for peace,” she claimed.

A resident of Srinagar, Nayeema Mehjoor has been working with BBC Urdu Service in London for the last over 20 years. She had earlier worked with All India Radio for few years. From 1967 to 1977, Nayeema had shot to fame while acting as ‘Nana Koor’, a child and adolescent character in then Radio Kashmir’s most popular seven-days-a-week family soap “Zoona Dab” (The Balcony).


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Separatists join Kashmiri Pandits in Khirbhawani celebrations

Muslims decorate temples, beseech Hindus to return to home for good

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 9: Dreaded JKLF terrorist Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, who once admitted on Doordarshan to have gunned down over two dozen members of the minority community over directions of his “commander” in 1990, was among pioneers of the separatist guerrilla movement, who hugged and kissed the displaced Pandit pilgrims on occasion of the annual festival at the revered Khirbhawani Temple at Tulmulla in Ganderbal district today. Yasin Malik and Javed Mir, who were among the top four JKLF “commanders” in 1989-90, were enthusiastically in attendance, 21 years after their armed cadres spread a wave of terror and caused mass migration of the 200,000-strong minority.

With the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s “Truth & Reconciliation Commission” failing to take birth, quite a number of Kashmiri separatists were conspicuous by their presence at Tulmulla---Omar’s Assembly constituency. This is the place where a Kashmiri Muslim resident maintained pouring tumblers and buckets of fresh milk into the holy spring all through the terror decade of 1990s when Pandits had deserted the village and a CRPF company stayed in guard. The middle-aged villager, in typical Pandit outfits, showed no semblance of fear even when militants Hameed Gada alias Bombar Khan and Bula Hajam stood more dreaded than Sholay’s Gabbar Khan in entire Tulmulla belt.

As thousands of the devotees poured in from Jammu, Udhampur, Nagrota and also from outside J&K, Khirbhawani looked no different from what it was in the pre-militancy halcyon days---a colourful mixture of young and the old, male and the female, Hindus and the Muslims. Today’s festivity was indeed an improvement over the last 10-12 years as members of diverse religious affiliation hugged each other. Many of them were in tears on meeting their estranged childhood friends and neighbours after years of separation.

Separatists like Malik, Javed Mir, Karate and their decade-old senior, Shabir Shah, lagged behind none in embracing and beseeching Pandits to return to their home. They seemed to be doing their best to reassure that nothing, nobody would harm them. Hordes of the displaced population agreed on spot to visit their residential hamlets they had left behind in 1989-90. It appeared that few recent incidents of firing and encounters were in nobody’s mind. “Such incidents do happen everywhere today. There’s nothing communal in them. We are not scared at all”, said 70-year-old Bhushan Lal Bhat of Kulgam. “I remember the last massacre of Pandits---at Nadimarg village of Bhat’s area---happened in 2003”.

Today’s re-union in Ganderbal happened four days after the authorities claimed in separate statements that the number of militants in Kashmir had dropped to the lowest ever of 200-something. Notwithstanding the other day’s broad daylight killing near Press Enclave in the Civil Lines here, residents believe the number could be even less than a hundred. Seventy to ninety percent participant in current Panchayat elections stands testimony to the fact that the militant can kill but can not terrorise now.

“I am hopeful that all those who had been appointed in the special recruitment drive last year but had not shown up for fear, could join their services in the Valley soon”, an official posted in General Administration Department said after witnessing today’s enthusiasm, communal harmony and what the IAS babus from outside call “Kashmiriyat”. He revealed that Chief Minister today directed IG CID to immediately complete character verification of the waiting Pandit recruits so that they could report for duty as early as possible.

During his reassurance to the pilgrims, Chief Minister made it clear that it were some “influential leaders from Hindu community” who had prevented Government’s Bill on Hindu temples and shrines in coming up for consideration in Assembly. He claimed that delegations and telegrams went even to Prime Minister and AICC chief Sonia Gandhi. He was optimistic that the Bill would be passed in next session of Legislature in September.

Muslim groups, local NGOs and several government departments had installed stalls, offering cold drinks, fruit juices, fresh fruit and mineral water to the soulful devotees.

Jubilant over the great transformation, men in the government thronged Tulmulla in beeline. And their appearance was indeed no news. Those who descended on the shrine village included Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his advisors and a number of Ministers like Abdul Rahim Rather, Raman Bhalla, Nasir Aslam Wani et al. 

Reports said that over 3000 devotees participated in special sessions of prayers at Khirbhawani Asthapan at Tikker on Kupwara-Tangdar Road where senior separatist leader and Chairman of Peoples Conference, Bilal Gani Lone, joined members of the minority community in today’s celebrations. Residents said that it was for the first time that hundreds of Muslims intermingled with their Pandit brethren and a major prayer session was held in Kupwara in the last 21 years.

Tears trickled down their cheeks when Muslim and Hindu women, particularly those who were friends or neighbours or merely knew each other before 1990, hugged each other and resolved to continue with their centuries old communal harmony. Emotional scenes marked the festival. Most of the pilgrims stayed there for one or two days as they seemed to be in no hurry to return to Jammu and other places. Everywhere, there was insistence on returning to home.

It was first time in 21 years that bells jingled and prayers were performed at Mata Devi temple at Aeshmuqam, close to a revered Muslim shrine in Anantnag district of South Kashmir. In the last two days, Muslims of the area had decorated the dilapidated temple to the best of their taste and even arranged everything required for prayers and the rituals to be performed by the Pandits. It was a festival with a difference. Pilgrims appreciated the sentiments of the resident Muslims in welcoming them back to their home and hearth. Would they really return for good, and if yes, would they live secure, nobody knows.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NC makes frontal attack on Jethmalani, Arundhati, Navlakha, Madhu Kishwar

‘They are agents of turbulence, not comfortable with peaceful summer in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 7: Taking strong exception to Ram Jethmanali’s remarks on Omar Abdullah’s coalition government, National Conference (NC) today called for ban on entry of people like the BJP maverick who, according to it, had the agenda of misleading people and thus derailing the peace process in Jammu & Kashmir. It called Madhu Kishwar, a member of Jethmalani’s four-member committee, a “political mercenary” and alleged that the BJP leader, alongwith writer-activist, Arundhati Roy, were not comfortable with the current spell of peace in the Valley.

“People like Ram Jethmalani, Arundhati Roy and Gautam Navlakha, at the behest of political mercenaries like Madhu Kishwar and the likes, visit Kashmir to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the state and then return to their comfortable homes in Delhi and Bombay to be seen occasionally on Television screens discussing Kashmir with the sole aim of stoking the violence and disturbance in the state much to the detriment of the people of the state and their welfare”, spokesman of the ruling party said in an unusual press release,

At the end of their maiden visit to Valley, that continued for five days, members of once BJP-supported Kashmir Committee had equated Omar Abdullah’s government with the Nazi regime in Germany and alleged that there was no rule of law in the “Police State”. Jethmalani observed at the news conference that bureaucratic arrogance, corruption, nepotism, favouritism and total absence of accountability in the executive had become the dubious distinctions of the NC-Congress ruling coalition.

“Government should not allow people like Ram Jethmalani to enter the state during the summers because they do not want a solution to the Kashmir issue instead they come here to misguide the people, hoodwink them and derail the process of peace in Jammu & Kashmir”, said the statement from NC.

The spokesman added that Ram Jethmalani was probably “out of his mind” to suggest that Nazi rule was prevalent in J&K. He said a state where eighty percent of the electorate participated in the Panchayat elections after nearly three decades to establish a democratic system at the grass root level could, by no stretch of imagination, be termed as the one under Nazi rule. He emphasized that current spell of peace, coupled with Panchayat elections of massive participation, should have been appreciated as a great leap forward in strengthening the democratic institutions in the state and bringing accountability and transparency besides improving the delivery mechanism.

The spokesman asked Jethmalani to first convince his own party, BJP, to support reduction of troops in civilian areas as also to raise the demand for withdrawal of AFSPA before seeking to convince others on such security-related measures. Jethmalani had, inter alia, demanded total revocation of “draconian laws” like AFSPA and PSA besides release of political prisoners in J&K.

The spokesman said Omar Abdullah and his government did not need any certificate from “disgruntled, frustrated and politically rejected people like Ram Jethmalani---a man who has failed to even win the Supreme Court Bar Association elections”.  He asserted that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was striving hard to win the hearts and minds of the people with his untiring efforts and he deserved full support of all right thinking people.

Early Times learned from authoritative sources that Omar Abdullah’s government has, of late, decided to take “tough action” against certain individuals of the Indian civil society, like Arundhati Roy, who, according to it, had been mobilizing the “agents of mayhem and disturbance” with reference to Kashmir. For the first time in 21 years of political turmoil, pro-Azadi activist Gautam Navlakah was prevented from entering Srinagar and deported to New Delhi last week.

While the state government is viewing people like Arundhati Roy and Gautam Navlakah as stanch supporters of J&K’s secession from India, it is treating people like Jethmalani and Madhu Kishwar as advocates of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his PDP. Owing to this impression, Omar and others in his party and government decided not to grant any interview to Jethmalani and others of his panel. Members of the committee were, on the other hand, gladly received by both factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference and the mainstream opposition party, PDP.

Government sources, meanwhile, disclosed to this newspaper that Police had been directed to lodge an FIR against a Kashmiri woman broadcaster, having worked for the BBC for over 20 years, for spreading “misleading SMS” over yesterday’s killing of a civilian near Press Enclave. Sender of the SMS has claimed in text that Police had gunned down the civilian from Sopore.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Jethmalani equates Omar Govt with Hitler’s Nazi regime

‘Bureaucratic arrogance, lawlessness, corruption, nepotism have become order of the day in this Police state’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 6: NDA Government’s Law Minister and senior BJP leader, Ram Jethmalani, who has revived once Vajpayee-supported Kashmir Committee after exactly 10 years, today equated Omar Abdullah’s coalition government with the German dictator Hitler’s Nazi regime. While calling for total revocation of J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the eminent lawyer observed that bureaucratic arrogance, lawlessness, corruption, nepotism and favouritism had become the order of the day in the “Police State” of Jammu & Kashmir.

Jethmalani’s 4-member committee, which includes lawyer V K Grover, a local youth Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra and Delhi-based activist Madhu Kishwar, whose love for PDP and hatred for NC has been the talk of the town in Kashmir, called on most of the separatist leaders including those from both factions of Hurriyat Conference, JKLF and others before concluding its maiden visit to the Valley today. During the five-day-long schedules, it also met the opposition PDP leaders and families of the youth who have been detained in different jails since last year.

Significantly, there was no interaction with any of the Government functionaries like Governor, Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Corps Commander or Director General of Police. In an ice-breaking event, Jethmalani’s group in fact began its deliberations with a detailed meeting with the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his Hyderpora residence. Journalists M J Akbar and Dileep Padgaonkar besides New Delhi-based Kashmiri lawyer and Congress activist, Ashok Bhan, have disassociated themselves with the committee that had met most of the mainstream and separatist leaders with evident support of BJP-led NDA Government in 2001.

While addressing a crowded news conference at the end of its five-day tour in Srinagar, members of so-called Kashmir Committee dismissed the coalition government as a regime, that, according to them, had severed all of its contact with the people of Jammu & Kashmir. “It’s completely a Police state. Police and government agencies are continuing their atrocities on people with impunity. There have become law unto themselves”, Jethmalani said. He equated Omar Abdullah-led coalition government with Hitler’s Nazi regime and complained that freedom of expression had been suppressed in Jammu & Kashmir and mediapersons declining to toe the government’s line were being harassed and victimized with even raids on their houses and offices.

Jethmalani strongly advocated total revocation of “draconian laws” like J&K AFSPA and the Public Safety Act (PSA) that gave unlimited powers and immunity to government agencies in proceeding against the state subjects. He said it was “strange” that detainees like ‘Gen’ Moosa had been languishing in jails without trial for the last over 15 years and those getting the detention orders quashed from courts of law were being re-arrested and detained afresh for years and decades. He urged the state government to reach out to families of the victims of last year’s street agitation and demonstrations. According to Jethmalani, Government should not only tender its apologies on the over 100 killings but also provide material relief to the affected families.

Jethmalani said that current situation in J&K was akin to that of Emergency days of 1975 when democratic rights had been completely suppressed and the executive was free of all accountability in the country. “We are pained to find that lawlessness, absence of total accountability, administrative breakdown, bureaucratic arrogance, corruption, nepotism and favouritism have become order of the day in this Police state”, Jethmalani said while referring to what is known as governance deficit in the official jargon.

Once Minister of Law and Justice in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre, Jethmalani said that he would organize a group of counsels in Delhi that would provide all possible legal assistance to the political detainees of J&K languishing in different jails. He alleged that the state government had adopted “criminal silence” over the detention of a Kashmiri civilian in Gujarat. “We’ll soon pursue this matter with the Government of Gujarat”, Jethmalani said.

With respect to the committee’s agenda of finding a political solution to the 64-year-old Kashmir problem, Jethmalani said that no resolution could be imposed from Delhi or Islamabad. He said it was for the people of Jammu and Kashmir themselves to find and implement an all-inclusive solution that, he asserted, should be acceptable to people of all shades of political opinion, regions and religions. He also advised the Valley’s separatist leadership to unite and come forward with a practicable roadmap of the Kashmir resolution.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Zargar after Zargar after Zargar at SKIMS is OK

But gap after gap after gap between the joints is a flaw; Allow private practice

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 5: Appointment of a new Director for the prestigious Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) was a matter of interest for one and all after Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar showed no inclination for a second term. There were pessimists in academia and intelligentsia but the men in power had predominantly Dr Showkat Ali Zargar’s selection a foregone conclusion. For them, it was not simply a matter of mundane continuity--- anesthetist Dr Meraj-ud-din Zargar in Farooq Abdullah’s government, endocrinologist Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar in Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government and gastroenterologist Dr Showkat Ali Zargar in Omar Abdullah’s government. They knew it all that none among rest of the dozen-odd candidates had the required political clout and clientele.

While the famous gastroenterologist did his job, his detractors left no stone unturned to berate him. If well-placed bureaucratic sources are to be believed, contenders for top slot of the tertiary care hospital-cum-deemed medical university acquired footage of a pro-Azadi demonstration being led by Dr Zargar and managed to deliver it straight on Chief Minister and Chairman of the hospital’s Governing Body. They even arranged copies of an FIR registered against the top contender and denigrated him as an “anti-national”.

Neutral observers are now visibly relieved over the way Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has not been dictated by a character assassination campaign against a senior faculty of the SKIMS. However, sections of intelligentsia in Srinagar seem to be genuinely a little concerned over the possible impact of the CM’s decision over his recent campaign against private practice. Many of them view it as an irony that the city’s busiest private practitioner has been picked up to, inter alia, discourage the menace of private practice among the SKIMS faculty.

A very competent gastroenterologist, Dr Zargar has an unmatched clinical profile. Private practice being banned for SKIMS faculty, Dr Zargar’s clinic has been frequently raided by sleuths of State Vigilance Organisation in recent times. Like 30-odd of his fellow faculty members, he remained unfazed by the non-serious Police actions. He also remained struck off from the employer for about eight years on account of his continued unauthorized absence and job in a foreign country. Even his controversial reinstatement was largely attributed to his cousin and former Director Dr Meraj-ud-din Zargar.

Raising serious questions of ethics, Dr Showkat Zargar was, among other members of Search Committee, also interviewed by Dr Meraj-ud-din Zargar, his close relative. In fact, yet another member of the Search Committee and former Principal of Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Ghulam Qadir Allaqaband too interviewed his personal cardiologist Dr Khursheed Iqbal. It was reminiscent of some PSC members interviewing their own relatives in certain gazetted recruitments. 

Still, most of the people associated with the medical profession are not essentially complaining why relatives and patients of at least two candidates had been appointed as members of the Search Committee. That is something head of the Search Committee and Chief Secretary Madhav Lal may or may not like to explain.

Discussions over the private practice, suspensions and reinstatements besides ethics and moralities have, in fact, remained confined to the domain of intelligentsia and bureaucracy. In absence of infrastructure, common man sounds to be heavily in favour of the private practice of the doctors of SKIMS and the state Health and Medical Education Departments. Even the founder-director of SKIMS and now a member of the State’s Task Force on Health, Dr Nagpal, has been advocating private practice, albeit with the condition that the clinicians should essentially conduct the patients beyond office hours with the SKIMS premises and part with one part of their income in favour of the hospital. “Despite best of efforts, Government of UP failed to implement the ban”, Dr Nagpal told this writer earlier this year.

Paid advertisements of the associations of medical representatives in Srinagar dailies, audaciously expressing gratitude to Omar Abdullah government and congratulations to Dr Zargar over his appointment as Director SKIMS, are a bizarre indication of the state’s public recognition of private practice. Showkat Ali’s predecessor Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar was severely assailed by his detractors over the permissiveness he allegedly granted to an influential brigade of the clinicians. Arguably more assertive than his successor, the famous endocrinologist failed to curb it till he demitted office last week.

One way to plug the gapes in the government’s decades-old policy may be to legitimize private practice but recover entire amount of the non-practising allowance they have drawn illegitimately since the day of a doctors’ becoming Assistant Professor. Operating clinics within office hours must be strictly prohibited and a publicly notified fee structure must be regulated. Besides, there should be total ban on the SKIMS staff’s enjoying the hospitality of pharmaceutical companies, particularly sponsorship of national and international conferences. We need an approver to eliminate the anarchy. We have, fortunately or unfortunately, got one in Dr Showkat Ali Zargar.