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Saturday, July 16, 2011

25,000 women are in prostitution in Srinagar alone: Justice Kirmani

‘Govt agencies pay cellphone bills of 8,000 women in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 16: In the statistics, which can be strongly disputed in absence of an empirical survey, a retired judge of Jammu & Kashmir High Court has claimed that as many as 25,000 women were currently in prostitution in Srinagar alone where the residents, according to him, had been consuming 25,000 bottles of liquor every day. He has claimed that the people in Valley were spending Rs 3 Crore every day on liquor and narcotics.

Addressing a literary gathering on occasion of the anniversary of Kashmiri poet, Ali Mohammad Shahbaz, at Town Hall in Handwara today, Justice (retired) Bashir Ahmed Kirmani claimed that Kashmir valley, particularly the capital city of Srinagar, had become a hub of social evil during two-decade long armed conflict and separatist movement. Kirmani, who took suo moto cognizance of certain news reports, turned them into a PIL, heard and monitored CBI investigation into the infamous Srinagar Sex Scandal in 2006-08, claimed that more than 25,000 women had landed into the vice of prostitution in the capital city alone.

According to Kirmani, selling of liquor like hot cakes on Boulevard and Sonwar Road had led to major traffic jams daily as residents in the capital city were consuming 25,000 bottles of liquor every day. He said that people were making “wasteful expenditure” of Rs 8 Cr which could be saved and utilized on socio-economic support to the destitute and other genuine activities. That, according to him, included expenditure of Rs 2 Cr on liquor, Rs 1 Cr on drugs and narcotic substances, Rs 1 Cr on mutton and chicken and Rs 1.5 Cr on fuel of vehicles and Rs 1 Cr on cellphone usage. He claimed that different government agencies were footing the cellphone bills of as many as 8,000 Kashmiri women every month.

Kirmani said that promiscuity in public schools had assumed menacing proportions, particularly in the capital city. Men and women in the state and non-state establishment were mainly responsible for this menacing growth of the social evil as they were themselves neckdeep in it. He implored intelligentsia to discharge its greater responsibility and eliminate the phenomenal social evil. Consequences, he said, would be horrible in case a strong will and effective mechanism were not p0ut in place to checkmate the social evil.

While expressing serious concern over the prostitution, flesh trade and promiscuity, Justice Kirmani that the social evil was growing in the Valley at an alarming pace. He said that the traditional value systems had crumbled and the civil society had been rendered defunct due to the gun culture. The clergy, according to him, had a major role in preventing and eliminating the social evil but it had become irrelevant and inefficacious due to lack of camaraderie. The clergymen, he pointed out, had been fighting each other over trivial issues and pursuing individual interests.

According to the former High Court judge, intelligentsia and the civil society, alongwith clergy, had to assert themselves forcefully against the social evil and checkmate it effectively.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Kakroo, Khoda Govt’s favourites for SAC, SVC

Consensus unlikely in Jul 18th meeting as PDP is dead against Kakroo

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 15: Principal opposition party, PDP, is determined to subvert the National Conference-led coalition government’s plan of appointing Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Mr Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakroo, as Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) even as it is likely to favour nomination of two former judges of J&K High Court---Yashpal Nargotra and Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain--- as members of the integrity watchdog. In the key appointments likely to happen in the next few weeks, Director General Police, Kuldeep Khoda, is emerging as the Government’s choice for the Chairmanship of State Vigilance Commission (SVC) while as journalist Arun Joshi and a retired official, Masooda Yasin, are likely to be appointed as member in SIC and Board of Directors in J&K Bank respectively.

Even as Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Mohammad Akbar Lone, would be on way to Saudi Arabia and London, other members of the selection committee are scheduled to consider a panel of names for a fresh constitution of SAC on July 18th. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Mr Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifullah, Minister of Law, Ali Mohammad Sagar, and Leader of the opposition, Mehbooba Mufti, would consider the panel of names in the meeting. According to informed sources, Government was keen to hold the meeting on July 15th, with attendance of all members of the selection committee, but Chief Justice communicated that he would be busy with a farewell party in hour of the retiring judge of J&K High Court, Mr Justice Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain, on Friday on Jammu.

Govt later wanted to postpone the meeting by over a week, till Speaker’s return from London, but Ms Mufti pleaded that she would be available on July 18th alone. The meeting is now happening after a number of postponements and in the backdrop of a writ petition seeking earliest constitution of the SAC.  Under section 4 of the amended Act, Governor is the competent authority for issuing the warrant of appointment on the recommendation of the 5-member selection committee.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government had got the law passed in Legislature in 2002-03 but SAC got its first Chairperson in the form of a retired judge of J&K High Court, R P Sethi, in August 2005. In protest against alleged political interventions, Justice Sethi resigned in May 2006. SAC later functioned with existence of two members, namely Justice Girdhari Lal Raina and Justice Muzafar Ahmed Jan. It has been completely defunct since June 2008 when Justice Jan’s term ended. Justice Raina had retired few months earlier.
 “A vacancy occurring in the institution of Accountability Commission should be filled in as soon as possible”, says the law but successive governments did not appoint its Chairman and members in the last over three years.

According to highly placed sources in the government, NC-Congress ruling coalition is keen to appoint Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Mr Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakroo, as the Chairperson of SAC. Justice Kakroo, who has previously functioned as Advocate General and later as a judge and officiating CJ of J&K High Court, is due to reach superannuation in October 2011. Early Times has been reporting that Omar Abdullah’s government was strongly in favour of Kakroo as Chairperson besides two retired and retiring judges of J&K High Court, Yashpal Nargotra and Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain, as members of the SAC.

Government had earlier submitted the names of two retired judges of J&K High Court, namely Bashir Ahmad Kirmani and Y P Nargotra, to Governor but Raj Bhawan returned the panel, asking why full constitution, including Chairman, was not being recommended.

In a significant development, Early Times today learned from top-ranking sources in PDP that the opposition party was “dead against” the appointment of Mr Justice Kakroo. PDP, according to sources, has been digging and collecting material since last month to establish its claim that Mr Kakroo was “not the right choice”. Sources said that PDP had, during Assembly elections of 2008, submitted written complaints against Mr Justice Kakroo and his son, to Election Commission of India, alleging that both were “working for National Conference” in Baramulla. Justice Kakroo’s son, Tariq, was later appointed, on deputation from State Power Development Corporation, in Chief Minister’s Secretariat. PDP has been using it as a substance to strengthen its case against Justice Kakroo.

Meanwhile, Early Times has learned from authoritative sources that DGP, Kuldeep Khoda, who was appointed as head of J&K Police by Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government in July 2007, was now emerging as the ruling coalition’s choice for Chairmanship of State Vigilance Commission. The commission, awaiting an amendment in law, is likely to be constituted by way of an ordinance in the next two months. Government had previously made an amendment, creating space for retired Police officials of the rank of IGP and above to be Chairman/members of SVC.

Sources revealed that in another meeting, another selection committee, would consider a panel of names to fill up two vacancies of members in State Information Commission (SIC) on July 18th. While as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is head of the selection panel, a Cabinet minister to be nominated by Chief Minister, and Leader of the Opposition, Mehbooba Mufti, are members of the committee. Sources said that, among four others, retired KAS official, Khwaja Bashir Ahmed and senior journalist Arun Joshi were likely to be considered as members of the SIC. Governor is the competent authority to issue the warrant of appointment on recommendations of the three member committee. Former Chief Commissioner Income Tax, Ghulam Rasool Sofi, had been earlier this year appointed as the first Chairman of SIC.

Sources said that retired official, Masooda Yasin, who also functioned as Principal of Government Polytechnic for Women in Srinagar, was likely to be appointed as a Director on Board in J&K Bank on account of her exposure in agriculture and cooperative sector. If appointed, she would be the first woman director on board in the bank. Even after re-appointment of economist Prof Nisar Ali and chartered account Rakesh Gupta, there are three slots of directors vacant in the board.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dir Education forced to implement all controversial transfer orders

Powerful women turn ‘Year Against Corruption’ into a big joke

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 13: Transfer orders of nearly 1,000 government schoolteachers in Kashmir Division, that had been issued by Director Education Shagufta Parveen but put in abeyance by Commissioner-Secretary of School Education, Naseem Lankar, have been finally implemented by officiating DSE, Kashmir, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed. Reportedly under tremendous pressure from the kitchen of a ministerial bungalow, Mr Mushtaq has withdrawn the abeyance orders and directed all the subordinate Chief Education Officers and Principals of High and Higher Secondary schools to ensure joining and relieving of all the transferred teachers at once.

Vide Order No: 1167-DSEK of 2011 dated 16-6-2011 and Order No: 1184-DSEK dated 17-6-2011, Director of School Education Kashmir, Shagufta Parveen, had ordered promotions and subsequently transfer and appointment orders of nearly 800 teachers. In the wake of serious allegations of corruption and confirmation of such reports by a Police intelligence agency, Commissioner-Secretary School Education, Mrs Naseem Lankar, had put in abeyance transfer orders of all the 1000-odd teachers and clerks vide Government Order No: 372-Edu of 2011 dated 21-6-2011.

According to authoritative sources, Mrs Parveen had conducted entire exercise of the mega transfers for two nights before proceeding on a mid-career training course for IAS officers of 1999 batch in Mussorrie, Singapore and Malaysia last month. Quoting knowledgeable men in bureaucracy, sources said that transactions worth over Rs 1.00 Crore had taken place around the controversial reshuffle. According to these sources, as many as 52 corrigendum orders were issued in 48 hours.

Mrs Lankar was put under tremendous pressure to withdraw the abeyance orders and get the transfer orders implements by the officiating DSE, Kashmir, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed. However, she avoided the ‘directions’ till she herself proceeded on leave in connection with the marriage ceremony of her daughter.

As reported in Early times in its issue dated July 11th, both, officiating Commissioner-Secretary G A Pir, as well as officiating DSE, Kashmir, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed, were later put under pressure to issue the orders, issued from June 16th to June 18th, without any modification. Even as both the officials, enjoying reputation of honesty and integrity, initially avoided the ‘instructions’ from the kitchen of a ministerial bungalow, with the argument that the exercise be conducted through Mrs Lankar and Mrs Parveen after they join back in a few days, both finally gave in on July 12th.

Under instructions from a top power corridor, officiating Commissioner-Secretary of School Education, G A Pir, withdrew Mrs Lankar’s abeyance order vide Govt Order No: 409-Edu of 2011 dated 12-7-2011. Within an hour, officiating DSE, Kashmir, Sheikh Mushtaq issued Order No: 1304-DSEK of 2011 dated 12-7-2011, asking all the CEOs, headmasters of High Schools and Principals of Higher Secondary Schools to enforce joining and relieving of all the transferred teachers.

Without explaining the reasons behind the abeyance orders of June 21st and the withdrawal orders of July 12th, DSE, Kashmir, in partial modification of the transfer orders of June 16th and 17th, ordered stop-gap posting of 60 more incumbent teachers as Masters for six months or till their formal promotion by Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC).

With this, as many as 797 teachers, elevated to the senior levels, have been directed to immediately move to their next places of posting. Under the original orders of June 16th, 736 trained graduate and post-graduate teachers were promoted as Masters and posted in different districts of Kashmir valley and Ladakh.


LIC official, teacher work as ‘correspondents’ for Radio Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

PULWAMA/ANANTNAG, Jul 11: While Cultural Assistant in J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages, Zahoor Sultan War, and teacher at Government Middle School Gohan, Chandoosa, are simultaneously working as ‘Correspondents’ for Radio Kashmir in Kupwara and Baramulla districts in North Kashmir, South Kashmir is behind none in making a mockery of the institutions of both, Government as well as Media, in the conflict-riddled Kashmir valley. During an investigation, Early Times discovered that a Head Clerk of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), a Government of India Undertaking, as also a Government schoolteacher, have been regularly working as ‘reporters’ with the national broadcaster in Pulwama and Anantnag.

Law calls it “business” and makes the defaulters of the Service Conduct Rules of both, Government of J&K as well as Government of India, liable to severe punishment---imprisonment upto two years and fine in cash. Termination of service in such matters is the basic requirement of the disciplinary action by the employer department. However, senior officials of All India Radio (AIR), LIC and School Education Department of the state government have invariably dumped all complaints against the defaulters into their dustbins.

Son of one Mohammad Khalil, a retired official of the office of Chief Education Officer (CEO) Pulwama, Ayub Javed, was appointed as a Lower Division Clerk by Staff Selection Commission of Government of India in the year 1993. He was posted in LIC. In the last 18 years, Ayub has been elevated to the senior rank of Higher Grade Assistant. He is a resident of Dangarpora locality of Pulwama town and has been continuously working at LIC’s District Office at Pulwama.

Enquiries revealed that Ayub has been simultaneously, and regularly, working as a ‘Correspondent’ with not only a number of Srinagar dailies but also for Government of India’s AIR. Officials at Radio Kashmir Srinagar admitted that this LIC official had been regularly working for the daily current affairs programme ‘Sheherbeen’. They said that sending over a dozen “news reports” from Pulwama every month, Ayub had been regularly taking his fixed remuneration in the form of cheques payable at a Srinagar branch of the State Bank of India.

Sherherbeen’s current producer, Rukhsana Jabeen, has no hesitation in justifying engagement of state government employees for the daily programme. “We are not bound by any guidelines. This is the responsibility of employer departments of the government to make their employees accountable and prevent them from working with media organizations”, she asserted.

However, officials holding senior ranks in accounts section of AIR and DDK Srinagar maintained that one government department could, in no circumstances, engage employees of another department on any arrangement---full time, part time, whatever. The revealed that various authorities, including Directorate of School Education Kashmir, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and State Vigilance Organisation had written letters to Radio Kashmir as well as DDK Srinagar asking them to ensure that no government official was booked for a programme without the written permission from administrative head of the concerned department and during office hours.

“There are also other riders. According to AIR Manual, we can not book any talent/contributor more than once in 14 days. In case of talents selected through audition, screening and interview, one could be paid for a maximum of six bookings in a month”, said a senior official. “Making payment to Sheherbeen reporters for more than twice a month is completely illegal and objectionable”, he added. He further informed that empanelled contributors, essentially selected through audition and interview, could be paid for a maximum of 89 days a year, in case of common programmes, and 120 days in case of news, as a special concession in J&K.

Officials confirmed that none of the Sheherbeen reporters had been selected though a written test, interview or audition. At the same time, these “reporters” were being paid for dozens of bookings every month, that too at rates far higher than those of contributors of other programmes. Interestingly, Ayub Javed, as well as all other government employees masquerading as “reporters”, have given a signed undertaking on contracts of each programme that reads: “I am not a Government employee”. Not a single mention of such regular payments has been made in any of Income Tax returns filed by such employee-scribes.

This does not stop there. Prasar Bharti’s Part Time Correspondent (PTC), Tassaduq Rashid Zargar S/o Abdul Rashid Zargar R/o Mattan, Anantnag, was also found to be a regular teacher of the School Education Department. Like, Kousar Salam in Baramulla, Tassaduq too has submitted an affidavit to DG News of AIR that he had resigned his job of a teacher. As already reported, Prasar Bharti’s engagement guidelines mention it clearly that no state/ central government employee could be considered for engagement as PTC.

Fact of the matter is that, like a number of others, Tassaduq Zargar too has been regularly working as AIR’s and Doordarshan’s PTC at district headquarters of Anantnag. “He has given us an undertaking that he was no more working as a teacher with J&K Government”, Director of News for Srinagar stations of AIR and DD, Bashir Malik, said. However, officials in CEO’s office at Anantnag insisted that Zargar had never resigned. “He is continuing on our payrolls. In our records, he has never resigned”, said an official. Tassaduq Rasheed later produced an order from Director of School Education saying that he had duly resigned and his resignation had been accepted way back in 2006.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Incharge Dir Education under pressure to implement 1,000 transfer orders

Promotion, transfer orders had been put in abeyance after Govt learned about transactions of Rs 1.5 Cr during two nights

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 9: For two nights before her departure to an overseas destination for training, Director of School Education Kashmir, Shagufta Parveen, conducted the process of promotion and transfer of nearly 1,000 teachers in the middle of last month. As Government learned through a Police intelligence agency that transactions of over Rs 1.50 Cr had taken place behind these transfers, all the orders were put in abeyance. Within a month now, incharge DSE, Kashmir, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed is said to be under tremendous pressure to implement all the controversial orders “immediately”.

Last month, General Administration Department (GAD) arranged a mid-career training programme for 1999 batch IAS officers of J&K Cadre. Under this programme, a group of five IAS officers, namely Hridesh Kumar, Sarita Chauhan, Mohammad Ashraf Bukhari, Mohammad Abbas Dar and Shagufta Parveen were scheduled to attend a course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration Mussoori before their departure for further schedules to Malaysia and Singapore.

Before her departure, Shagufta Parveen literally burnt midnight oil in completing the process and issuing the transfer orders of nearly a thousand teachers in Kashmir division. According to well-placed authoritative sources, all the orders were made and issued for two nights. All the known touts of the officers in the department were at work like in a festival. “It was like a share market. The Sensex remained in movement for both nights. Government, including GAD learned from a Police intelligence agency that transactions worth more than Rs 1.50 Cr took place”, said a well-placed source in Civil Secretariat.

Commissioner-Secretary, Naseema Lankar, too learned from “authentic sources” that money had changed in a big way as a number of Chief Education Officers, who are notoriously part of a known academic mafia, conducted the process at their level. According to these reports, bribes ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 were received and passed on as per the “rating” of different schools, corresponding to residential particulars of incumbents.

Surprisingly, as many as 52 modifications were issued during 48 hours, indicating pulls and pressures from different quarters. Nearly one hundred teachers are estimated to have managed choicest places of posting on account of their relationship with influential bureaucrats, politicians and other pressure groups, including media and judiciary, without paying bribes. Others allegedly managed it against cash payment of bribe money.

Shagufta Parveen, vide Order No 1167 DSEK of 2011 Dated: 16/6/2011 accorded sanction to the promotion of 736 “trained graduate/trained postgraduate teachers as Masters/Head Teachers in the pay scale of Rs 6500-10500 (pre-revised) as approved by the Departmental Promotion Committee in its meeting on 13-04-2011 on the available posts.” 

On the same day, she issued another Order No 1149 DSEK of 201, sanctioning regularization of three in-charge senior assistants as Senior Assistants.  On 17-6-2011 and 18-6-2011, the Director issued three more orders (1180-DSEK of 2011, 1183-DSEK of 2011 and 1201-DSEK of 2011) of the promotion of Masters/Head Teachers and Head Assistants.

Immediately after receiving reports of large scale payment of bribe money, Government got all these orders put in abeyance by Commissioner-Secretary School Education, Mrs Naseema Lankar. Government Order No 372-Edu of 2011 Dated: 21-06-2011 reads: “It is hereby ordered that the posting order of Masters/Head Teacher/Senior Assistants on their promotions issued by the Director, School Education, Kashmir vide Orders No: 1167 DSEK of 2011 and 1149 DSEK of 2011 dated: 16-06-2011 is hereby kept in abeyance till further orders”.

On the same day, more orders were put in abeyance. “In continuation to the Government Order No: 372-Edu of 2011 dated 21-06-2011, it is hereby ordered that the posting of Masters/Head Teachers/Head Assistants on their promotion issued by the Director School Education, Kashmir vide Orders No. 1180 and 1183-DSEK of 2011 dated 17-06-2011 and Order No. 1201-DSEK of 2011 Dated: 18-06-2011 are hereby kept in abeyance,” read another order issued by the Commissioner-Secretary.

According to sources, a section of aggrieved teachers and officials have submitted representations to bureaucratic and apolitical circles, seeking a detailed investigation into their charges of corruption leveled against certain officers who have been behind these controversial transfer orders.

However, before the formal investigation was ordered, Commissioner-Secretary Mrs Lankar proceeded on leave in mysterious circumstances. Charge of School Education Department was temporarily given to Commissioner-Secretary Health and Medical Education, G A Pir. Sources said that Mrs Lankar was relieved of her charge when she refused to get the orders implements by officiating Director School Education Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed. Sheikh Mushtaq, Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, has been holding the charge of DSEK in absence of Shagufta Parveen. Sources said that Mr Mushtaq was now under pressure, through Mr Pir, to get the orders implemented before Mrs Lankar returns to her office. She was not reachable for comment.

“Mrs Lankar is on leave as her daughter’s wedding is currently underway. I am holding the charge for a few days only” Mr Pir told Early Times. He confirmed that incharge DSE Kashmir was being directed to implement the transfer orders that had been put in abeyance last month. However, others in Education Department insisted that Mrs Lankar was away “on protest”. They insisted that her daughter’s marriage had taken place over two months ago.