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Saturday, July 9, 2011


Misgovernance is a misnomer, it’s no-governance

Students dying to see teachers, who never attend duties, operate as ‘journalists’, take multiple salaries, interview DCs and Ministers

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

BARAMULLA, Jul 9: Students at Government Middle School Gohan, in Chandoosa zone of Baramulla district, have only heard that Kousar Salam is one of their teachers. He has seldom taken a class. They, however, listen to their teacher regularly reading out his news dispatches in daily news bulletins of Radio Kashmir, Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar and the much-hyped DD Kashir. Nobody in the zone, or perhaps entire Baramulla district, has the spine to ask this employee why he was not discharging his duty of teaching in the classroom.

Kousar Salam S/o Pir Abdul Salam R/o Thindma, Kreeri, has been regularly receiving monthly salary of around Rs 15,000 from Omar Abdullah’s government as records of the Department of School Education mention him as a government teacher. Least caring for the future of his students, Salam has been rubbing shoulders not only with Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla but also the Cabinet Ministers whenever they visit the North Kashmir district headquarters. While drawing his salary as teacher regularly, he has been simultaneously working as ‘Part Time Correspondent’ (PTC) for All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan.

Since 2006, AIR has been regularly paying him monthly remuneration of over Rs 4,000 on account of his “services” as a Correspondent. Service Conduct Rules of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Government of India, call this kind of an activity by a government employee as “business” and make the defaulter liable to imprisonment of over two years besides fine. According to these rules, government employees can not publish even a vegetarian write-up without the written permission of the concerned Secretary to Government. Working as a regular journalist, that too with another government department, reporting political issues and staying absent from the place of posting for years together, is completely out of question.

What Zahoor Sultan War in Kupwara and Kousar Salam in Baramulla have been doing for years now is an open crime without a formal complainant.

When Early Times published in detail, in its issue of July 8th, as to how Cultural Assistant of J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages, Zahoor Sultan, had been simultaneously working as a “journalist” against regular remuneration for Radio Kashmir, a vernacular daily and a local news agency, readers thought that incumbent Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, would take cognizance. Reports, however, indicate that head of the state bureaucracy has been no different from his predecessor, Sham Singh Kapur, in taking such notices in the interest of his government and the hapless people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Nobody in the government has demonstrated the shame of withdrawing from the imposter the awards of “The Best Journalist” which Zahoor Sultan has been receiving from Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet Ministers on all Independence Day and Republic Day functions at Kupwara. On January 26th, the award was handed over to the fake journalist’s brother, Mohammad Yahya War, on behalf of the state government by Minister incharge Irrigation and chief guest of the occasion, Taj Mohiuddin.

Discrediting both, the government as well as the institution of media in Jammu & Kashmir, these impostors have been enjoying a field day. Many of them have openly indulged in arranging transfers and appointments and laying their hands on scores of developmental works in Rural Development Department, R&B, Irrigation, PHE and Local Bodies. Their fathers and brothers have overnight turned into mates, suppliers and contractors.

While the poor bona fide journalists, who complete their post-graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication over disposing off the jewelry of their mothers, run from pillar to post in search of an ordinary job, the amphibious players simultaneously make quick fortunes in both---Government and media. They overnight become owners of luxury cars and palatial houses and get all of their relatives and friends appointed in different government services. They also manage to be darlings of separatist leaders.

Kousar Salam, and many of his ilk, have been shuttling between government offices at Baramulla and all other Tehsil and Block headquarters in the district. Definitely not in search of news.

Deputy Commissioner, Bashir Ahmed Bhat, takes pride in enjoying company with this “prominent journalist”. He has all the good reasons. By virtue of his reporting for Radio Kashmir and Doordarshan, Salam enjoys the blessings of several Cabinet Ministers he interviews for Radio. Last month, when a team from union Ministry of Home Affairs visited Baramulla and Uri in connection with expansion of cross-LoC trade and travel, it was escorted by only one “journalist”---Kousar Salam. Full-time professionals like Karamat Qayoom were not allowed to even see the members from a distance.

Early Times investigation revealed that Kousar Salam had been initially appointed as a Rehbar-e-Taleem teacher for a primary school in his village of Thinam. After regularization of his service in five years, he was posted as a teacher in Government Middle School Gohan.

Zonal Education Officer, Chandoosa, Ghulam Mohammad Moon, as well as Chief Education Officer (CEO) of Baramulla, Ghulam Hassan Ganai, confirmed to Early Times that Kousar Salam had been regularly taking his salary as a school teacher. “From 1st of Aril, he proceeded on Earned Leave for one month. He later extended leave for full month of May. Thereafter, he sought another extension from June 1st which was granted under rules”, CEO Baramulla, G H Ganai revealed. All the government officials and residents interviewed by this newspaper, maintained that nobody had the courage of making this teacher accountable. Most of the district officials said that they feared Salam for being a “prominent and well-connected journalist”.

AIR’s website mentions Kousar Salam as the PTC for Baramulla district alongwith his two telephone numbers. Then an RT teacher, Salam has been simultaneously appointed as PTC by a high level committee of Prasar Bharti. ‘PG Diploma/Degree in Journalism/Mass Media or Graduate with minimum two years journalistic experience’ was declared as essential qualification. Salam had neither. The selection committee comprised an ADG rank nominee of DG News (AIR), Director Radio Kashmir Srinagar besides heads of Regional News Units at AIR Srinagar and DDK Srinagar.

Rule II (b) of the PTC engagement guidelines reads: “The persons already in government service, Central/State Government/ Administration of
the Union Territory or in any Public Service Undertaking (PSU) and member of any political party will not be considered for engagement as PTC”. Kousar Salam was appointed in violation of the rule. He has been regularly getting remuneration of Rs 4500 every month. In addition to 20 news reports a month to AIR, he can, under an agreement with Prasar Bharti, also report for DD News. That’s what Salam has been doing and, in the process, growing as an influential “journalist” in Kashmir.

Investigation further revealed that Director Radio Kashmir has issued official I-Card of AIR to the illegally appointed PTC without seeking his character verification and antecedents, as prescribed clearly in the guidelines, from the district authorities.

Director News for Radio Kashmir and DDK Srinagar, Bashir Malik, admitted that Prasar Bharti had received complaints against Kousar Salam for simultaneously working as PTC with AIR and teacher with Education Department of the state government. “We accordingly took up the matter with DG News when we learned that Salam was simultaneously working as a government teacher. However, we were directed to continue him as PTC when he submitted an undertaking to DG News that he had resigned as a teacher”.

When it was pointed out to Malik that claiming to have resigned, submission of resignation and its acceptance by the Secretary to Government were three different things, he said that his undertaking was taken as true as it came through an affidavit.

CEO Baramulla asserted that Kousar Salam had neither submitted his resignation nor had it been accepted by the Government. “He is on Earned Leave of three months and continuing on our payrolls”, he said.


Thursday, July 7, 2011


Govt official getting ‘best reporter’ award on all I-Days, R-Days in Kupwara

Works openly for Radio Kashmir, Urdu daily, news agency; Makes mockery of Service Conduct Rules, gets salary from Cultural Academy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 7: Brushing brazen violations of Service Conduct Rules of the government employees under the carpet, Omar Abdullah-led coalition government has been permissive to a number of regular officials masquerading as journalists. This can be admittedly played down as an inheritance of lawlessness. But, what the officers under the Chief Minister’s nose have been doing without an iota of fear since January 2009 is arguably unprecedented. Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Kupwara has been presenting a regular employee of J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages as the “Best Reporter” on all Independence Day and Republic Day functions and the current year’s award has been given to the official by Minister incharge Irrigation and PHE, Mr Taj Mohiuddin.

None other than Chief Minister happens to be the President of Cultural Academy. In J&K, Chief Minister is also invariably Minister incharge of General Administration Department (GAD). Functioning literally under the Chief Minister’s nose in Cultural Academy, Cultural Assistant Zahoor Ahmed War S/o Mohammad Sultan War R/o Bonpora, Batergam (Kupwara) was declared as the “Best Journalist” by DC Kupwara, Mohammad Shafi Rather, on the eve of Republic Day in January this year.

Being busy with the “reporting” of the “shutdown against the Indian occupation” for a vernacular daily and a local news agency in Srinagar on January 26th, War was not present in Kupwara. Chief Guest and Minister incharge Irrigation & PHE thereupon handed over the award to his brother, Mohammad Yahya War, who runs a PCO in Kupwara.

“How did you declare a regular government official as a journalist and the Best Reporter and helped him receive the award from a Cabinet Minister?” Early Times asked DC Kupwara, Mohammad Shafi Rather. “We have not given him award as the Best Journalist only this year. Zahoor Ahmed War, known as Zahoor Sultan, has been the recipient of this award on all Republic Days and Independence Days since 2009”, DC Kupwara said. He claimed that neither he nor anyone else in Kupwara knew Zahoor Sultan as a government employee.

“He has been every day reading out his news dispatches in Radio Kashmir’s current affairs programme Sheherbeen. He has been simultaneously working for a Srinagar-based news agency. Since last many years, his name has been regularly appearing as Associate Editor in the print line of an Urdu daily. All of treat him as a full-time, bona fide journalist. If he is really an employee of Cultural Academy, Secretary Zaffar Iqbal Manhas owes an explanation for his unauthorized activity”, DC Kupwara argued. He said it was strange that a Class 3 government employee had been regularly interviewing DC and other district officers over political and developmental issues in a typical example of misconduct and criminal impersonation.

Mr Rather added that by virtue of being a “prominent journalist”, Zahoor Sultan had also introduced his father as a contractor and mate. Under the same fear, BDOs in Kupwara and Handwara areas have allotted dozens of community development works to War’s father and brother. DC said that a number of District and Tehsil officers had been reportedly obliging War and his family under fear and threat. “Now that we have learned about his being a government official, we’ll initiate necessary action including an inquiry”, DC Kupwara asserted.

Secretary of Cultural Academy, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, feigned ignorance about Zahoor Ahmed War’s masquerading as a journalist and working for a newspaper, a news agency and Radio Kashmir. “I never knew about his impersonating as a journalist. He is a permanent employee, Cultural Assistant, with the Academy. Now that you have brought it to my notice, I’ll initiate necessary action under rules”, Manhas told Early Times.

Others in Cultural Academy, however, maintained that Zahoor War’s operating as a journalist and simultaneously drawing monthly salaries regularly from the Academy was “known to one and all”. They insisted that War had been a tutor of the children of Academy officers since 2002 and it were they who had first got him inducted as a sub editor in an Urdu daily and later recruited him as Cultural Assistant with brazen favouritism.

One of the Academy officers revealed that Zahoor War had sent regular daily dispatches to Radio Kashmir’s Sheherbeen programme during a recent three-week-long tour of the Academy staff outside J&K through his cellphone. Each of the dispatches from Delhi and other places read: “Zahoor Sultan, Sheherbeen, Kupwara”.

Director Radio Kashmir Srinagar, Javed Iqbal, said that he would check the information with the head of Current Affairs section. “I have joined recently and I have no knowledge of the government employees operating as daily reporters of Sheherbeen”, he asserted. However, Producer of Sheherbeen, Rukhsana Jabeen, observed that it was the problem of the employer (in this case Cultural Academy) and not of Radio Kashmir, to make these contributors accountable and take cognizance of their unauthorized activity. “We cannot book government employees as news reporters but we can book them for any other programme”, she asserted.

Early Times investigation revealed that nearly eight years ago, Zahoor Ahmed War (B Sc, B Ed) had been engaged as Rehbar-e-Taleem teacher for his village school by Chief Education Officer Kupwara. Even as he managed to take his salary regularly for three years without discharging any duty, a head master later objected to his continued absence. Efforts were made to browbeat him but the headmaster pleaded that fearing government action was more important for him than fearing a fake journalist. War later gave up his job.

Within a short time, he was recruited by his patrons as a Cultural Assistant in Cultural Academy. Using the influence of his media clout, he seldom took his duty seriously. From Sheherbeen, he drew payment cheques in the assumed name of Zahoor Zahid but when another broadcaster of the same name objected, he assumed the name of Zahoor Sultan. While working as an employee with an organisation, headed by Chief Minister, he continuously worked with an Urdu daily and his name appeared in its print line without break since 2005.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


IAS officer acts as ‘super Cabinet’, approves 30 contractual appointments

Total disregard to Cabinet decision, Rather’s announcements in Assembly

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 5: A senior IAS officer, holding the rank of Principal Secretary to Government, has approved over 30 contractual appointments in brazen violation to the Cabinet decision and Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s repeatedly made assurances on the floor of Legislative Assembly. Consequent upon the unauthorized approval, Managing Director of a board has engaged handpicked incumbents, including a retired Executive Engineer and nearly a dozen Assistant Managers, some of them even before reaching superannuation.

It was in the Budget Session of 2009 (September) that Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, announced Omar Abdullah government’s key decision of regularizing the services of all incumbents, upon completion of seven years of continuous working, who had been engaged on adhoc, contractual and consolidated basis from time to time. Mr Rather mentioned the number of such incumbents as 5656. In the following sessions of Legislature, Mr Rather described the regularization of such employees as “Government’s commitment”.

However, in all of his speeches, Mr Rather made it unambiguously clear that the Cabinet had imposed blanket ban on such kind of engagements/appointments on 9-10-2009 and nobody would be thus engaged in any circumstances. He made it clear that in case any official was involved in such kind of an appointment, Government would not only initiate disciplinary action but also recover the amounts of money paid as salary to such appointees from the delinquent officers.

In immediate follow up to the Cabinet decision, General Administration Department issued Govt Order No: 1423-GAD of 2009 Dated 14-10-2009, specifying the procedure of regularization of such services and also imposing blanket ban on all types of adhoc, contractual and consolidated appointments with immediate effect.

Para 7 of the Government Order No: 1423-GAD of 2009 Dated 14-10-2009 reads as under:

a) all adhoc/consolidated/contractual appointments shall be banned with immediate effect.

The order added: “Any appointment made in violation of above orders shall invite, besides disciplinary action, the recovery of the salary drawn by such an appointee as arrears of land revenue from the officer/officials who made such appointment.
The order made it clear that no individual or authority, other than the cabinet, was authorized to approve or make any adhoc, contractual or consolidated appointment from September 2009 onwards.

Documents in possession of Early Times carry an incontrovertible material evidence that at least one senior IAS officer, who is a Principal Secretary to Government, has approved such appoints in bulk on 16-09-2010, exactly 11 months after the Govt Order was issued by GAD. Subordinate officials of the 1986 batch IAS officer from Himachal Pradesh, including a Secretary and a Deputy Secretary in a board, have subsequently issued so-called “appointment orders” intermittently in the last 10 months, in total disregard to the Cabinet decision and the Government order.

Most of the appointees are retired or retiring officials and engineers of Jammu & Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC). They include retired Executive Engineer Shahid Rasool Qadiri who has been appointed as “Deputy General Manager” vide JKHB Order No: 25 of 2011 Dated 24-02-2011 “on contractual basis initially for two years”.

Jugal Kishore Kapoor has been appointed as Head Draftsman vide JKHB Order No: 108 of 2010 Dated 29-10-2010 “for a period of one year in the first instance”.

Er Mushtaq Ahmad Tarfarosh, Mushtaq Ahmed Sheikh, Mohammad Akram Sheikh and Er Abdul Ahad Wani have been appointed as Assistant Managers vide JKHB Order No: 55 of 2011 Dated 9-4-2011. Interestingly, Mohammad Akram Sheikh has been appointed 20 days in advance of his scheduled date of retirement in JKPCC i.e. 30-4-2011.

Gh Qadir Bhat and Ghulam Jeelani Wani have been appointed as Assistant Managers vide JKHB Order No: 132 of 2010 Dated 13-12-2010. Again, Ghulam Jeelani Wani has been appointed 49 days in advance of his retirement on 31-1-2011.

Subhash Chander Uppal, Joginder Singh Sachdeva, Mirza Khalid Parwaiz, Moti Lal Bagati, O.P. Koul and Mohammad Amin Bhat have been appointed as Assistant Managers vide JKHB Order No: 121 0f 2010 Dated 30-11-2010. Rajan Kapai has been appointed as Assistant Manager vide JKHB Order No: 103 of 2011 Dated 20-05-2011.

All these selectively picked up blue-eyed oldies have been working since their respective dates of joining and their salaries have been fixed according to their last salaries, minus pension, in regular service.

While Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, did not respond to phone calls, Commissioner-Secretary Finance, Sudhanshu Pandey, maintained that he could express his opinion only after going through the text of the appointment orders. His “prima facie” observation was that the GAD order was restricted to only Government departments, not the autonomous boards, corporations and societies.

However, officials in GAD held a completely reverse opinion. They pointed out that copies of the Govt Order had been sent to Chairmen and MDs of all autonomous and semi-government undertakings including boards and corporations created by an act of J&K Legislature, for implementation. They further insisted that none of the Secretaries to Government had by law competence in any capacity to approve such adhoc and contractual appointments.

“Had the boards and corporations been exempted, all such undertakings would have made similar contractual appointments in the last two years”, said a middle-ranking official in the state Law Department. He pointed out all Chairmen and MDs had been sending the applicants and aspirants back with the argument that all such appoints stood banned since September 2009.

“All the boards are instrumentalities of the state and the State stands unambiguously interpreted in Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Articles 14 and 16 guarantee right to equality of all citizens in matters of public employment and every action of government and government-created undertakings is governed by the Constitution. High Court of J&K as well as Supreme Court of India have made it clear in various rulings and judgments that no government, or autonomous body created by the government, could appoint incumbents, even on adhoc and contractual arrangement, in an arbitrary manner”, said a senior advocate.


Monday, July 4, 2011

DD has 50 stations headless but 4 heads at Srinagar Kendra

After 18 years of home stay and 3 transfer cancellations, Mrs Shair wants to head DDK Srinagar till retirement

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 4: While dancing to the tune of mainstream politicians in Jammu and Kashmir and keeping their organizational patrons in New Delhi in good humour with everything from cash to kind, Kashmiri officials of Doordarshan have managed their stay in the home state for years and decades together in brazen disregard to transfer policy. Even as 50 out of 64 stations in the country are currently headless and are being looked after by engineers or programme executives as a stop-gap arrangement, there are as many as four officers of the rank of Station Director at Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar.

Established nearly 60 years ago, DD has now 21 major Kendras, 29 Kendras and 14 Programme Generation Facilities (PGFs) in the country. Each of these stations is supposed to be headed by an officer of the rank of Station Director. While a major Kendra has to be headed by a senior Station Director of the rank of Deputy Director General of Programme (Rs 37400—Rs 67000 Grade pay Rs 8700) and a mid-level Kendra by an officer of the rank of Director of Programme (Rs 15600—Rs 39100 Grade Pay Rs 7600), lowest level stations, known as PGFs, must be headed by officers of the rank of Deputy Director of Programme (Rs 15600—Rs 39100 Grade Pay 5400).

Authoritative sources in Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation of India and Directorate General of Doordrashan revealed to Early Times that out of 64, as many as 50 stations in the country were currently being manned by non-programme or junior programme staff like Station Engineers and Programme Executives. Some of the stations were being run by Transmission Executives. Nineteen-year-long recruitment holiday in DD as well as All India Radio is said to be the main reason behind non-availability of incumbents.

However, at stations like in Srinagar, pampered officials have managed to stay for years and decades with the blessings of mainstream politicians (who are normally beneficiaries of excessive news coverage) and patronage of senior officials from DD headquarters, PBBCI and union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. As against the requirement of one Station Director (Director of Programme), there are currently one DDG Programme and three DDPs posted at DDK Srinagar.

With the Director of Station Dr Rafeeq Masoodi (lately designated, alongwith dozens others, as DDGP without any physical or notional promotion) being under transfer to Directorate of General of Dooradrshan, Mrs Shammi Shair, Syed Zeeshan Fazil and Qayoom Wadera are all holding the rank of DDP. Zeeshan and Wadera have returned to the home state after years of posting in New Delhi and other states but Mrs Shair has remained posted at DDK Srinagar continuously since 1993.

Informed sources revealed that since her joining DD around 1980 as a newscaster, daughter of then News Editor Habibullah Shair has served only for two years outside Kashmir valley. After her two-year-stint in New Delhi, she returned to Srinagar in 1993 and has remained continuously posted here. These sources revealed that orders of transfer were issued for Mrs Shair as many as three times in the last 18 years but all the three times she managed to get the orders modified/cancelled and thus ensured her stay in Srinagar.

Even as being a woman producer was stated to be the reason, nobody in Shastri Bhawan or Mandi House listened to non-J&K female officials and engineers when they pleaded inability to work in a “dangerous conflict zone”. Even presently, a woman from a different state, who is close to her superannuation, is heading the engineering wing at DDK in Srinagar.

On the other hand, Kashmiri female officials like Hafeeza Kausar were shifted from Srinagar to other states and were never allowed to return to home state till their retirement from service. Mrs Shehzadi Simon was transferred back to Srinagar after serving at Delhi and other stations for over 25 years. A couple of years before her retirement, she got the privilege of posting in her hometown. Presently, at least three female officials, namely Sudesh Bakshi, Haleema Parveen and Kausar Praveen, all residents of Srinagar, are serving in different states of the country.

When DD issued the last transfer order of Mrs Shair in March this year, as usual she got it changed with just a visit to New Delhi. DDG (Administration) asked her to return and enjoy in Srinagar till her retirement. “She may be excluded from the list”, recorded the DDG Administration on file without any hesitation. It was this time around that Zeeshan and Wadera were posted back in Srinagar. Officials at Directorate General of Doordrashan and Prasar Bharti have also dumped all complaints against Mrs Shair in the dustbin. These complaints included swindling of funds worth Crores of Rupees provided by union Ministry of Agriculture for production and telecast of a daily farming programme, titled “krishi darshan”.

Sources said that Mrs Shair’s patrons in New Delhi were now planning to appoint her as Director of DDK Srinagar despite plethora of complaints and resentment from artists, private producers, inhouse staff and others in Jammu & Kashmir.