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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sardar Attique denied cross-LoC travel permit

Another former PoK ‘Prime Minister’ Sultan Mehmood travels via Delhi

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 17: Even as Government of India has not permitted former PoK ‘Prime Minister’ Sardar Attique Khan and his 24-member entourage to travel from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar in their own fleet of vehicles, another PoK ‘Prime Minister’ of the past, Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, today arrived in New Delhi from Lahore by air. Both the politicians, as also a number of other legislators and Ministers, were scheduled to attend marriage ceremony of the son of a Srinagar-based businessman Zahoor Wattali on September 19th.

Barrister Sultan, who functioned as “Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir” from 1996 to 2001 reached New Delhi by air from Lahore today. He was received at Indira Gandhi International Airport by Pakistani High Commissioner Shahid Malik and other staff of the High Commission. After staying at Malik’s residence for a night, Barrister Sultan would leave for Srinagar on Sunday. Even as a many politicians, including former Ministers from Srinagar and Muzaffarabad have visited each other's sides in the past, it is for the first time since 1947 that a former head of the government would be visiting the other side of the Line of Control in the Jammu and Kashmir territories divided between India and Pakistan. Former Chief Justice of 'Azad J&K Supreme Court' Syed Manzoor Gilani, who is a resident of Karnah area of Kashmir and has previously visited the Valley, is also one of Wattali's high profile guests who has already arrived in Srinagar alongwith some members of his family.

Speaking to Early Times from the Pakistani High Commissioner’s residence, Barrister Sultan revealed that he was traveling “all alone”. He said that he had conveyed his desire to travel to Srinagar to Pakistani and Indian officials few days back. “It was late last evening that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad called me and advised me to file an online application for visa. It was granted within two hours. I will be reaching Srinagar at 1230 hours tomorrow and staying there for three days before leaving back for Lahore by air in the evening on September 21st”, Barrister Sultan said.

Barrister Sultan has represented Mirpur constituency in AJK Assembly for several years since 1983 and also functioned as ‘Prime Minister’ parallel to Dr Farooq Abdullah’s 1996-2002 term as Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir. He has been AJK chapter President of Pakistan Peoples Party. In August 2011 Assembly elections, he was yet again returned from the politically hypersensitive Mirpur constituency. He said that it was his first ever visit to India and Srinagar. He revealed that he had been granted a city-specific visa for only Delhi and Srinagar and, thus, he would not be traveling to any other destination like Agra and Ajmer---most sought after by the Pakistanis.

Asked if he was planning to interact with any of the separatist or mainstream politicians or government functionaries in Srinagar, Barrister Sultan told Early Times that his meetings with some political leaders were “well possible”. He said that he was on a purely private tour but would not hesitate to meet any of the separatist or mainstream politicians. “I am told, most of them would be the guests at the wedding I am attending”, he said.

This newspaper learned from well-placed sources that Barrister Sultan was offered official hospitality and the state protocol, including boarding and lodging at a VVIP guest house by Omar Abdullah government. He, however, preferred to stay either at his host Zahoor Wattali’s house at Baghat Barzullah or a private hotel on Maulana Azad Road.

Wattali is a prominent businessman, who was close to Yasin Malik’s JKLF and late Abdul Gani Lone’s Peoples Conference for several beginning years of Kashmir militancy. Then “Chief Commander” of JKLF, Yasin Malik was for the first time arrested by security forces from his home in the middle of 1990.

Later, Wattali maintained an equilibrium of relations with the Indian and Pakistani authorities. Large number of separatist as well as mainstream politicians, including several Ministers, had attended marriage ceremony of his elder son in 2007. While as his elder brother, Ali Mohammad Wattali, retired as DIG of Kashmir, followed by Member of J&K State Public Service Commission, his nephew Shafqat Wattali is currently DIG of South Kashmir.

Informed sources revealed that on the advice from Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, Regional Passport Officer of Srinagar has denied cross-LoC travel permit to another former PoK Prime Minister Sardar Attique Khan and his entire entourage of 24 family members and party colleagues. Sources said that Sardar Attique and his colleagues were advised to travel on visa via Lahore-Delhi-Srinagar but he declined to travel on Passport and Visa and insisted on traveling Muzzafarabad-Srinagar-Muzaffarabad in his own cavalcade. “There was a technical hitch in that as there is no such protocol regime between India and Pakistan”, MEA sources in New Delhi said.

They confirmed that J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had taken up the matter with the Centre and recommended strongly that Sardar Attique and his entourage be permitted to travel in their own motorcade but he could not be obliged “for a host of reasons, including a close deadline”. With this, Omar Abdullah’s efforts to arrange Sardar Attique’s visit in Pakistan-registered vehicles have failed.

Leader of Muslim Conference, Sardar Attique has functioned as Prime Minister and MLA in PoK while his nonagenarian father, Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, has served several times as Prime Minister and President of PoK. Kashmiri separatist circles call him “Mujahid-e-Awwal” (the first freedom fighter) on account of his being the first person who had picked up arms to dethrone Maharaja Hari Singh in the middle of 1940s in Mirpur-Muzaffarabad territories. However, Sardar Qayoom has attained the profile of a moderate politician in the last over 15 years and even publicly criticized gun culture.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Shutdown but little tension over Uni’s death in Sopore

Battle on appletown continues in 22nd year; Police say 20 fresh recruits came in recently; Search on for Muz Maulvi, Akash Badar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SOPORE, Sep 16: Arguably nothing better than Abdullah Uni’s death would have marked completion of the first zero-casualty year for Jammu and Kashmir Police. As many as 18 civilians and a Constable died in different clashes between demonstrators and Police/paramilitary forces when thousands of Kashmiris came out on streets on September 13th, 2010, to protest a sacrilegious incident that had happened in United States of America. That brought number of the civilians killed in street demonstrations, clashes and arson during turbulent summer of 2010 to 114. Nobody died in such clashes from September 14, 2010 to September 14, 2011 anywhere in Kashmir valley.

Shops in the north Kashmir business hub remained shut for three days as a mark of tribute to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terror Abdullah Uni. If Police are to be believed, Uni was “simply a brand name of terror” who did everything on gun point and was in immoral relationship with over a dozen young women, including his hideout owner Tariq Kakru’s daughter Tabbasum. But, quite a number of residents extol him as a “great warrior” who, they insist, had “unnerved the Indian Army” for over six years. “He had killed dozens of soldiers and officers and had escaped leisurely from over a dozen of military operations”, says College student Syed Junaid.

People of varied shades of opinion have, nevertheless, consensus on one point: Uni’s death would prove to be a turning point in Sopore. Few others are unfazed by his death.

“We have seen many turning points. Army and Police claimed to have conquered Sopore several times in the last 22 years of our freedom movement. Their first claim came in November 1993 when they used tanks, killed 18 militants and trumpeted that Sopore had been conquered back. Every pause of calm was followed by a fresh spell of militancy”, said a school-teacher, insisting to hide his identity. He is sure that some other militant would soon emerge as an icon, for many years to come. “It will continue until Kashmir wins freedom”, he observed and asserted that nobody’s death, not even that of iconic Geelani, would break the “freedom struggle”.

Nevertheless, there are tell-tale signs of change, when compared to 1993. For all three days of mourning, passenger transport operated without fear or hindrance. Faces from streets to orchards looked relieved, if not jubilant.

“Uni was a dreaded killer. He would eliminate people on mere suspicion. With his blood-letting, he ruined dozens of poor families. This entire shutdown is because of the fear of his associates, who are no less merciless”, said a resident of Muslim Pir locality, again hiding his name. He narrated how Uni and his associates kidnapped and gunned down two young daughters of a poor labour earlier this year.

Suddenly, gunshots are heard around Bus Stand, not far away from SP’s office. Commandoes, who rushed in bullet-proof Jeeps with alacrity, returned soon. They learned from local vendors that Uni’s local associate, Muz Maulvi, had come close to a CRPF camp and run away after firing few shots from his pistol in the air. “He wanted to enforce shutdown. Our boys spotted him escape but we won’t let him set our track. We are confident to get Muz Maulvi as well as Akash Badar in a month if they chose to stay in town”, said a Police official.

SP Sopore, Imtiyaz Mir, however, cautioned that it was a little longer drawn battle. “We have credible information about entry of 20 fresh recruits in Rafiabad-Dooru-Warpora belt. Few of them have come in from Lolab and are staying in Imbarzalwari forests, few others are in Rafiabad. But we are sure to get a decisive victory by the middle of next year”, he asserted. “Police will succeed only if it gets support and cooperation from different quarters---its own leadership, political leaders, intelligentsia, media, judiciary”. He breaks to respond to a cellphone call. An officer of the rank of IGP asks him from Srinagar to release a youth, involved in four incidents of attacks on Police, stone pelting and arson!

For everybody at District Police Office, another Eid has come within 15 days. DGP, Kuldeep Khoda, and IGP, SM Sahai, drove all the way to Sopore in the forenoon to decorate the men who had removed the icon of terror carrying reward of Rs 10 to 30 Lakhs on his head. Nearly 20 personnel were either promoted to next ranks or regularized as Followers and Constables. Boys engaged as SPOs for Rs 3,000 a month would get salary of Rs 13,000 to 15,000 from this month. They had all packs of sweets in their hands and tears of joy in their eyes.

Marks of Uni’s spectacular strikes are still engraved on a many walls around. His bullets killed former SP Altaf Khan’s bodyguard on the entrance of Police Station. Khan himself had a close shave in three to four attacks. Uni’s rifle grenades fell on the compounds of fortified buildings in the highest security zone. Police offices, BSNL installations and senior Congress leader Ghulam Rasool Kar’s house are just few of his staple targets.

One of Uni’s rockets has ripped the cantilever RCC slab and missed the window of SP’s bedroom by inches. The sight is still frightening---notwithstanding rows of BP Gypsies, Rakhshaks, bunkers, pillboxes and crates of Concertina wire woven in all directions.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sopore: From loved Majid Dar to dreaded Abdullah Uni

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SOPORE, Sep 15: Many of Sopore’s stone pelters and militants of the day were not born when troops destroyed scores of residential houses and business establishments on January 6th, 1993. Some of them would have been zero to four years old and thus learned only from their parents or elder siblings how BSF soldiers ran amok after a militant attack and massacred nearly 50 civilians in the famous apple town.

While we kept waiting for the VIPs from New Delhi---Ghulam Nabi Azad, Makhan Lal Fotedar and Ghulam Rasool Kar---and Governor’s Advisor incharge Home, Lt Gen Mehmood Ahmad Zaki on January 8th, one of the young officers of Army said candidly: “We’ll never regain Sopore as long as Majid Dar lives”. “Why?” asked we about the legendary guerrilla who operated as then formidable Hizbul Mujahideen’s “Military Advisor”. “He does not tolerate even a minor misbevaiour of his cadres with the masses”. The Major went on to elaborate that security forces used to get 80 percent of the information free often from those harmed, harassed or humiliated by militants. Less than 20 percent, he said, would flow from paid informants.

Very few, drawn from a couple of neighbourhoods in the curfewed town, confirmed what the officer said inside the office of the Principal of Government Degree College, Mohammad Abdullah Charoo. Charoo, a Baramulla resident, who was years later elevated to the position of Chairman of J&K State Board of School Education, confirmed every word of the Army officer.

Notwithstanding grapevine of his ultimately falling into the trap of the Indian intelligence, Dar commanded respect not only in hometown Sopore but also in his organisation headed by Syed Salah-ud-din in Pakistan. He was never arrested until he was gunned down, allegedly by Salahuddin loyalists, a day before he was to have left for Pakistan. Even his passion for looking young, and his controversial second marriage to a relative failed, to lower his prestige.

One of his Sudanese fighters, namely Ibni Masood, and the Afghan warlord Gulbadeen Hikmatyar’s bodyguard Akbar Bhai shot into prominence for high-precision rocket attacks on paramilitary camps in the “liberated town” but nobody shared Dar’s legend. Call it fear or irony, less than 800 people participated in his lackluster funeral in Noorbagh locality on March 21, 2003. Almost all of Dar’s loyalists in the Hizbul leadership, including Farooq Mirchal and Commander Masood Tantray, were later eliminated, or got eliminated, one by one. His widow, Dr Shameema Badroo, was left incapacitated in one attack. With media and politicians on its side, Hizb succeeded in silently making a many believe that Dar and his group had been assigned by New Delhi to take over the organisation. Still, Hizb seemed to have died its death in Sopore with Dar’s in 2003.

Eighteen years after the worst massacre in town, Sopore is yet again in news---this time for killing of another legendary militant, Abdullah Uni. This 27-year-old from Pakistani Punjab gained as much influence as Dar did but for completely converse reasons. People in Sopore knew Uni as chief of the dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayyiba in J&K, though there was nothing official from the outfit till he was given a clean chit in the assassination of cleric-politician Maulana Shaukat Shah last fortnight. Even the letter addressed to Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith chief investigation panel did not reveal Uni’s status in the organisation.

On account of his six-year-long operations, Uni too became a legend in Sopore. He was indisputably responsible for reorganizing LeT and reviving the insurgency that had been apparently decisively wiped out three times in the last 12 years. Uni survived dozens of spectacular operations conducted by two Kashmiri Muslim SPs in the last 5 years. Thirty-three militants got killed and over a hundred arrested during the period Imtiyaz Hussain Mir functioned as head of Sopore Police. His successor and 1999 KPS batch mate, Altaf Khan, got 37 killed and scores arrested. Escaping successfully from over a dozen cordon-and-search operations, killer of many soldiers, including a Major, Uni continued to expand his base in the apple-rich expanse.

Uni showed no mercy for his suspects. Believing him behind almost every single civilian killing in the last four to five years, victims of his terror privately referred to him as Abdullah Khuni. He escaped for many reasons. Even senior Police officials admit that Army was “excessively” scared of Uni as he had jumped out two or three times while firing indiscriminately in a daredevil fashion. Death of an officer in one of such encounters intensified fear among troops. Imtiyaz Mir, who has been brought back as SP of Sopore last month, revealed that he did not disclose Uni’s identification to Army till the state’s most wanted militant was killed in the gunbattle.

“We feared that it could have a psychological effect. We were well on his track for the last over one month. We had crystal clear information that Uni was present at the house of his wife, Tabbasum, but we held it strictly to our chest till he was fatally hit”, Mir narrated. He further revealed that Uni had also succeeded to hide as he communicated neither through phone nor radio. According to Engineer-turned-SP Imtiyaz Mir, Uni was in touch with his high command and associates only through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) operated by a foreign company. He was last time publicly spotted while carrying a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba flag, alongwith his Pakistani associate Akash Badar, in the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s rally on occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr on August 31st.

[To be concluded]

LeT’s J&K chief Abdullah Uni killed in Sopore

Killer of 15, including a Maj, Uni had escaped from 12 cordons in 10 years

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 13: On completion of the first zero-casualty year, Jammu and Kashmir Police, alongwith Army, got a remarkable achievement today when J&K ‘Commander-in-Chief’ of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Azhar Malik alias Abdullah Uni, died in a gunbattle in Sopore township of Baramulla district. Believed to be responsible for scores of guerrilla operations and killing of at least 15 people, including a Major, Uni had escaped from over a dozen cordon-and-search operations in north Kashmir in the last 9 years.

SP Sopore, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, told Early Times that elimination of Azhar Malik S/o Riyaz Malik of Multan, Pakistan, who operated with the code name of Abdullah Uni in Kashmir since 2002, was the highest priority target for Police and security forces in Sopore. According to Police records, Uni had operated in Kupwara district from 2002 to 2007. Thereafter, he established a strong base in Sopore and re-organised his group with mobilization of dozens of long surviving guerrillas and fresh recruits.

Uni had planned and executed dozens of successful operations against Police and security forces. Believed to be directly responsible for at least 15 killings--- including that of a Major and two sisters in Sopore and also murder of prominent cleric-politician Maulana Shaukat Ahmed Shah---Abdullah Uni had successfully escaped from over a dozen cordon-and-search operations of Police and armed forces in the last nine years.

SP Sopore revealed that with the help of meticulously planted informants, Police learned late last night that Uni was expected to stay for a night at the residential house of one Tariq Ahmad at Baghat Batpora, close to Degree College in Sopore. As usual, inmates had kept a rear window open which had been identified as Uni’s entry point into the house. Reports pouring in to Police from the neighbourhood described Tariq’s daughter Tabbasum as “either wife or girlfriend” of the Lashkar chief. Some of these reports insisted that the young woman had also delivered a baby at Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar last year.

At around 0900 hours today, Sopore Police, alongwith some units of Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn, swooped on the locality situated on the northern bank of river Jhelum. During the cordon-and-search operation, Uni scampered out of Tariq’s house and took shelter in an abandoned house. Police and forces zeroed in on the hideout at 1130 hours. Uni lobbed at least six hand grenades and also opened fire from his AK-47 rifle. SP Sopore said that without suffering any collateral damage, Police and Army gunned down Uni when he made his first attempt to escape from the cordoned area. He died on the compound. One AK-47 rifle and one Chinese pistol were recovered from his possession.

SP Sopore said that Police were still in search of Uni’s communication devices and documents but nothing of the sort had been spotted or recovered till late tonight. He said that none of the civilians in the neighbourhood or inmates of Uni’s hideout had been taken into custody for questioning. “But, we will have to interrogate few people, including a woman, to find Uni’s contacts and associates”, Imtiyaz Mir said. He described Uni’s death in the daytime gunfight as the most spectacular achievement of last several years for Police and armed forces. “We are now fully confident to yet again eliminate the last remains of militancy in Sopore in next two or three months”, SP Sopore added.

Director General of J&K Police, Kuldeep Khoda, confirmed to Early Times that Abdullah Uni was Lashar-e-Tayyiba head in J&K and the state’s most wanted militant. He said that Uni was responsible for reviving militancy in Sopore-Kupwara-Bandipore belt of north-eastern Kashmir. DGP and other senior Police officials maintained that Uni had killed over a dozen of people, including a Major and two daughters of a poor labour in Sopore. They claimed that Uni had, among other of LeT’s operations, also planned and ordered killing of Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadith chief Maulana Shaukat Shah in a bomb blast in Srinagar on April 8th this year.

With intermittent civilian killings by suspected militants, guerrilla attacks on Police and armed forces, Sopore had emerged as a hub of revived insurgency in the last two years. Dreaded militants, including over a dozen foreigners, had established their writ on the apple rich township since middle of 2009 even after Police and forces had uprooted militancy and made it a guerrilla-free area in 2007-08. Sopore also happens to be significant on account of being residential locality of Kashmir’s topmost radical leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hectic lobbying underway to grab top post in Academy

Politicians pushing sycophants, nincompoops; 26 submit CVs to Taing panel

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 12: With politicians of different hues pushing their favourites, including those who have ruined institutions of culture and media in the last several years, as many as 26 aspirants have submitted their biodata to a search committee that has been assigned to select a suitable incumbent to head Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture & Languages. The top executive slot in Academy has fallen vacant with the superannuation of Zaffar Iqbal Manhas on August 31st.

Even as his mentors in politics and bureaucracy have failed to win him an extension to service, Zaffar Iqbal has been asked by the government to continue in his chair till the appointment of new Secretary of Academy. Failure to develop the primary Kashmiri and Dogri sections, 9-year-long unjustified freeze in publishing 5th volume of Encyclopedia Kashmiriana, besides nepotism and recruitments through dubious means, have reportedly weighed heavy and tilted balance against the incumbent Secretary.

In the last week of August, Government constituted a five-member search committee to find new Secretary for Cultural Academy. MLC Mohammad Yousuf Taing, who has served as Secretary of Academy and Director General of Culture, Archaelogy, Gazeteers, Museums and Libraries for nearly 25 years before joining active politics in 1998, was appointed as head of the panel. Commissioner-Secretary General Administration Department (GAD), Mohammad Sayeed Khan, Commissioner-Secretary incharge Culture, Atul Duloo, besides the tallest literary personalities in Kashmiri and Dogri, namely Professor Rehman Rahi and Neelambar Dev Sharma, were appointed as members of the committee.

As soon as the search committee was constituted, a number of government officials and litterateurs began furnishing their CVs to Mr Taing and other members. Well-placed sources disclosed that until recently heads of two rival factions of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee, namely Prof Saifuddin Soz and Ghulam Nabi Azad, had been supporting one aspirant each. However, both have reportedly made it clear to the political establishment in the last few weeks that they would not support this couple of officials who had “ruined the academy beyond limits” in the last six years.

Yet another official, who has also thrown his hat in the ring, has also begun to mobilize his supporters, including a PDP MLA from Bandipore. However, his proximity to the tainted incumbents in the last several years, manipulating awards and swindling funds of Sahitya Academy besides being “simply a higher secondary lecturer” have all emerged as his disqualifications. Even bureaucracy has pointed out that a junior official, not even holding the post of an Under Secretary to Government, could not be appointed for a prestigious position that has been manned either by Additional Secretaries/ Special Secretaries to Government or top litterateurs and activists like Taing and Balwant Thakur.

Literary and cultural circles in Jammu have begun to emphasise that under the pattern of a ‘rotation”, someone from Dogri Literature, Art or Theatre should be appointed as Secretary now. “After two Secretaries from Jammu (Balwant Thakur and Ramesh Mehta), two from Kashmir (Rafeeq Masoodi and Zaffar Iqbal) held the post. Now two more should be picked up, one after another, from Jammu”, said a noted playwright from Jammu. However, one of his counterparts in Valley asserted that third one should also be a Kashmiri. He counted three previous Jammunites as Prof Rita Jitendra, Balwant Thakur and Ramesh Mehta.

Some circles in bureaucracy, reportedly supported by Minister incharge Tourism and Culture, are said to be insisting that someone from Ladakh should also get a chance. They point out that nobody from Ladakh has headed the Academy in the last nearly 55 years.

If informed sources are to be believed, 26 of the aspirants, who include a number of different politicians’ sycophants and nincompoops, are building pressure on the search committee. They reportedly include a former Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar who has been lately removed and shifted to Delhi on account of his unprecedented indulgence in corruption and sycophancy of politicians. He is a contender despite having served a term as Secretary of Academy in the past. The official is facing serious charges of corruption and CBI is currently investigating two FIRs against him.

Sources said that the search committee would only shortlist names and prepare a panel of four names. The incumbent would be finally picked up by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in his capacity as President of Cultural Academy.


PoK Ministers, MLAs scheduled to visit Kashmir

Omar urging Centre to permit Attique Khan’s motorcade to enter, ply in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 10: During his current visit to New Delhi, where his key engagement was participation in National Integration Council meeting today, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is urging Government of India to lend all possible official facilitation to the high-profile PoK politician Sardar Attique Khan’s first visit to the Valley. If permitted to enter on Omar’s intervention, it will be first time after Partition that PoK’s politicians, including some sitting Ministers and MLAs, would be traveling in Valley in their own vehicles registered in Muzaffarabad and Rawalpindi.

Son of PoK’s topmost politician, Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, and a former ‘Prime Minister’ of ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’, Sardar Attique Khan is planning to visit Kashmir valley alongwith his son, Ibrahim, daughter-in-law, daughter and son-in-law, besides a number of former and sitting Ministers and legislators. Srinagar-based businessman, Zahoor Wattali, has invited Sardar Attique and others of his family and party, Muslim Conference, to participate in the marriage ceremony of his son Dar Yasir in Srinagar later this month. Those invited include another former Prime Minister of PoK Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary.

Before Sardar Attique, his 90-year-old father and veteran politician, Sardar Abdul Qayoom, has also served as PoK’s Prime Minister and President for several terms. Both of them have attended almost all the international conferences sponsored by Government of Pakistan and overseas groups in USA, UK, Europe and other countries in the last 21 years of the Kashmir conflict. Attique Khan also used to be the key speaker at all the conferences organized by Kashmiri-American Council (KAC) founder-chief Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, who is now facing charges of being Pakistan’s and ISI’s agent without registration in USA.

Publicly abhorred by PoK’s pro-independence groups, including JKLF, Sardar Qayoom and Sardar Attique have been stanch supporters of PoK’s merger into Pakistan, though both have cold-shouldered Kashmiri radical politician Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s pro-Pakistan ideology and also publicly recognized Sheikh Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah as the “duly elected representatives” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would be persuading Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, union Home Minister P Chidambaram, as well as Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi to grant special permission to Attique Khan and his entourage to visit Kashmir in their own cavalcade. Cross-LoC travel and trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad (and through Chakan da Bagh in Poonch) has been going on for the last few years but vehicles of one side are not allowed to ply beyond particular points on the LoC on the other side.

In case Omar succeeded in getting Attique Khan’s visit cleared without trans-shipment on LoC, it will be for the first time in the last 64 years that Pakistani vehicles, registered in Muzaffarabad, Mirpur and Rawalpindi, would be plying on the streets in Kashmir valley.

Previously, a number of pro-India politicians from J&K have visited PoK and Pakistan and vice versa but Track-II plans of arranging Muzaffarabad visit of NC and PDP leaders, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, through Srinagar-Muzaffarbad surface route had been scuttled when Hurriyat leaders, notably Geelani, registered their strong protests with Gen Pervez Musharaf’s government. It was in the face of this acrimony that New Delhi did not permit former Pakistani Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid’s visit to hometown Srinagar four years back.

Sardar Attique Khan confirmed to Srinagar-based news agency, KNS, today that he would be meeting Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during his forthcoming visit. “I will meet the elected Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during my visit. I have no problem in meeting him. I have sent list of 24 people to the J&K government who will accompany me during my visit”, Khan is reported to have told KNS.

“I want to come in my own vehicle and it will be a biggest Confidence Building Measure if I’m allowed. As former PM of AJK I want to become bridge between India and Pakistan,” Khan said and advocated creation of free trade and travel zone across the LoC.

“Whole Jammu and Kashmir should be declared as free trade zone and people of both parts should be allowed to travel without any documents,” he demanded. Six of Khan’s relatives and colleagues are reported to have already arrived in Srinagar.

Sources said that Sardar Attique and his entourage would be staying at a super-luxury hotel on Gupkar Road and they would be meeting with a number of pro-India Kashmiri politicians including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Prof Saifuddin Soz. They were also scheduling meetings with senior separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Bilal Gani Lone (and his mainstream politician brother Sajjad Lone), JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Professor Abdul Gani Bhat.

“This is a golden opportunity for strengthening CBMs. I have sent the list received from other Kashmir to the Centre for permission. Tomorrow politicians from our side can also go there,” Omar Abdullah reportedly told KNS today. According to the agency, Omar added: “Though coming in his personal vehicle may not be possible, but still I will inform the central government and hope he will be given permission.” Asked to comment on Khan’s statement terming him as elected representative of people, Omar said, “If he endorses that we are elected representatives it is a welcome step.”


Cong leaders demand probe in DDK Srinagar blaze

 Early Times Report

 SRINAGAR, Sep 10: FormerMinisters and legislators of Congress party, Abdul Gani Vakil and ChoudharyGaru Ram, and a sitting MLC Haji Ali Mohammad Bhat have demanded a thoroughprobe into recent fire incident at DDK Srinagar in which record room of theKendra was set ablaze. In a statement today, all three leaders has said thatthis fire seemed to be a deliberate attempt so that the inquiries by variouscitizens under right to information act are denied and pending inquiries withregard to various cases of corruption are influenced by destroying theevidence.

 All three leaders lamentedthat an employee of Kendra’s news section was found half burnt during this firewhich took place on a Sunday evening on 28thaugust 2011 when the said employeehad no reason to be present there. He said that there are reports that CentralBureau of Investigation and vigilance wing of Doordarshan was probing severalcomplaints of financial bungling by the said unit. They said if this incidentis not probed seriously it will set a dangerous trend of setting records ofvarious offices on fire by the corrupt officials which come under scanner ofthe investigation agencies and RTI activists.

 The Congress leaders also expressed concernover the reports that the record of the Kendra was recently assembled in thatroom allegedly with the complicity of other officers.They urged Prasar Bhartiauthorities to take serious note of the happenings in Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar.The leaders emphasized the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the Kendra sothat it comes out of mess and is able to deliver the duty of effective publicbroadcaster in the sensitive state.

 They said that mess in theKendra gives very bad impression about the functioning of the Government ofIndia to the people of the State as it is seen as a symbol of the UnionGovernment here. The leaders have particularly urged Union Information andBroadcasting Ministry to end the chaos in regional news units of Prasar Bhartiin Srinagar where the internal mess has made the quality of output very low,thus damaging the credibility of these important institutions. They demandedthorough probe in all the cases of corruption that have surfaced at DDKSrinagar and DD Kashir in the last three years.


PDP may corner Govt over appointment of ICs

‘CE R&B being rewarded for allotment of Rs 10 Cr works without tenders’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 7: Even after failing to get a slot for her favourites in J&K State Accountability Commission (SAC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti seems to be planning to corner Omar Abdullah’s coalition government over the appointment of a retiring Chief Engineer as a member of J&K State Information Commission (SIC). Leakage of the names of probables by members of the coalition coordination committee is yet again leading to an embarrassing situation for the government.

Government’s wisdom of letting half-a-dozen politicians of National Conference (NC) and Congress judge names of probables for SIC in a meeting last week has come into question. J&K State Right to Information Act 2009 makes it the prerogative of a three-member panel to select the nominees and recommend them to Governor for consideration and warrants of appointment. While as Chief Minister happens to be the Chairman, one of the Cabinet Ministers to be nominated by him (in this case Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand) and Leader of the opposition/ single largest party in Legislative Assembly (in this case PDP President Mehbooba Mufti) are, by law, members of the selection committee.

On the recommendations of this panel, Governor had appointed former officer of central Revenue Service, Ghulam Rasool Sufi, as Chief Information Commissioner vide SRO-57 on February 11th this year. Both the slots of State Information Commissioners have been lying vacant, leading to the disappointment of Mr Sufi as well as Governor. On occasion of the swearing-in ceremony of two members of SAC here last month, Governor had significantly deviated from a practice and delivered a speech to lay emphasis on immediate filing up of vacancies in all statutory bodies, particularly the two slots in SIC.

Meanwhile, one of the citizens in Jammu filed a writ petition in J&K High Court, seeking directions to the government for appointment of commissioners. After months of silence, General Administration fixed the meeting of selection committee on September 5th. However, the political establishment sprang a surprise when it delegated the constitutional task to the coalition’s coordination committee. According to reports leaked to media, coordination committee zeoed in on a former professor of law from Jammu and a CE hailing from Ladakh. However, scheduled meeting of the selection committee was deferred for reasons not disclosed to public.

“Government is in its right to share the two slots between Kashmir and Jammu, between Muslims and non-Muslims or between NC and Congress. But, it’s none of its business to entrust the job of selection committee to a political committee that has no constitutional sanction”, a senior advocate of J&K High Court observed. He expressed serious apprehensions that the coalition partners “wants to accommodate favourites” and thus trivialize the constitutional bodies into “rehabilitation clubs of retired officials”.
Even as the name of a retired professor of law of University of Jammu has not drawn much of negative reaction, eyebrows are being raised on the Government’s intention of rehabilitating a retiring Chief Engineer during whose tenure as CE and SE, Department of R&B has reportedly allotted works worth more than Rs 10 Cr without calling of tenders.

All these works, initially approved for Rs 3 to 5 Lakh but finally raised to even Rs 50 Lakh and 1 Crore without administrative approval and technical sanction of competent authorities, have been allegedly doled out to political sleeping partners and favourites of politicians.

“This is neither an employment package nor a charity to be equally distributed among geographic regions. This is a constitutional body, a transparency watchdog where you require men to deliver. Credibility of many institutions, commissions and boards has been already eroded by different governments with the appointment of blue-eyed boys. If the coalition wants post-retirement rehabilitation for more of its loyal officials, it should dump them in other fields, not in SAC, SIC and State Vigilance Commission”, said a legal luminary, who has also served as a Minister in the past.

“Most of the officials and bureaucrats have their own lobbies. How do you expect them to do justice when you seek information or action against an SE who has functioned as Exen or AEE with a Chief Engineer?” asked he. On the other hand, officials of one lobby could be biased against those of rival lobbies if made judges or members of SAC or SIC. “Selection committee has got to be extremely judicious in such appointments. It should pick up men of eminence from different fields, as required by law. Otherwise, anybody could approach Governor with a caveat and cause embarrassment to the Government”, he added.

Knowledgeable sources revealed that Ms Mufti, who happens to be a member of the selection committee, was bracing up to corner the government vociferously over the appointment of political loyalists and faithful officers as State Information Commissioners. Contrary to her silence over rejection of her opinion during selection of Chairman and members of SAC, Ms Mufti is said to be planning a ruckus over “discrediting of institutions” by the coalition government ahead of the forthcoming session of Legislature.

Talking to KNS Mehbooba today said, “I’m not able to understand why the selection meetings are being postponed every now and then. It is unfortunate that the government is not taking sensitive institution like Information Commission serious. By doing so the government is doing injustice to the people who have lot of faith in these institutions.”

Meanwhile, stake holders too have begun to express apprehensions with regard to delay in appointments of ICs and nomination of retired officials and bureaucrats. Convener of J&K RTI Movement, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat issued the following statement to Press:

“The State Chief Information Commissioner or the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and  experience in law , science and technology ,social service , management , journalism , mass media or administration and governance.

So it is crystal clear that the State RTI Act never says that an Information Commissioner or Chief Information Commissioner has to be a retired bureaucrat , top Government official etc , even a senior Lawyer or a Journalist can be a member (Commissioner) of J&K State Information Commission.

It is more than two and a half years when the new RTI law (JK RTI Act 2009) was enacted in J&K but it took Government two years to appoint Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and till date the Selection Committee is not able to meet and sit together to have consensus on appointment of two other Commissioners .

The selection committee meeting had to be cancelled on Monday as the Deputy CM Mr Tara Chand who is one of the members of the selection committee which consists of CM & leader of opposition was not available for the meeting. How can a Deputy Chief Minister do that when he knows the date &agenda of the meeting more than a week back ? It clearly indicates that Government is not serious to see RTI is implemented in letter & spirit in this corruption ridden state and State Information Commission (SIC) is made fully operational”.


DDK Srinagar records burnt
in low intensity blast on Aug 28th;
Official critical at SMHS;
Case being hushed up

CBI probe demanded in DD’s ‘Srinagar-2G’ scam

In-house programmes worth Rs 52 Cr approved in 3 months against 25% ‘commission’ in advance

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 5: Beneficiaries of the loot-and-scoot in Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar, allegedly hand-in-glove with officials at Mandi House and Prasar Bharti headquarters in New Delhi, are currently burning midnight oil to ensure that there was no investigation into illegal approval of in-house programmes worth Rs 52 Cr, distributed during last three months of Dr Rafeeq Masoodi’s tenure in Srinagar. Private producers and artists have, meanwhile, demanded a thorough investigation by CBI Delhi into the mysterious blaze of August 28th when a number of files were destroyed in record room of DDK Srinagar and one of the officials sustained critical injuries.

Srinagar District Police’s lackadaisical initiative in the DDK Srinagar blaze is being widely interpreted as a “hush up” by the fraternity of freelance producers and artists in the Valley. Fresh enquiries revealed that FIR was not registered for several days at Police Station Kothibagh and, surprisingly, in the initial report there was no mention of an official having sustained critical burn injuries. Informed sources confirmed that no statements have been recorded, no professional inspection of the spot has been conducted and no circumstantial evidence has been seized despite the fact that the fire had started with a low-intensity blast, burning the anterior of an official. Clear evidence of inflammable and explosive material is still tell-tale on the spot, insiders claimed.

 As earlier reported in this newspaper, DDK Srinagar stenographer, Ashiq Hussain, was burnt beyond recognition in the fire that started on Sunday, August 28th, at 1700 hours. He is recuperating at SMHS Hospital since Aug 28th, though his condition continues to be grave. According to sources, nobody has till date made an effort to know as to why the ill-fated official was present on the CRPF-guarded premises on the day of a gazetted holiday and why he had entered DDK Srinagar through an overhead bridge after parking his two-wheeler on the premises of Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Each and every DDK official and visitor is supposed to enter only through the DDK gate.

Some DDK officials, as well as Kothibagh Police, had initially maintained that Ashiq got burnt when a power transmission line fell on him. However, it became clear within a day that there were no transmission lines or overhead livewires at the spot. Doctors treating the official at SMHS Hospital have also opined that the patient was burnt in the flames caused by highly combustible and explosive material.

A delegation of private producers, artists and script writers, which also comprised a number of DDK Srinagar employees, complained that the matter was being “hushed up”. Members of the delegation, who are ready to record their statements but do not want to be identified as this stage, told Early Times that a “coterie of well connected producers and officials from Srinagar to Delhi” was clearly behind the subversive act. They demanded a thorough investigation by CBI Delhi while pointing out that some officials of CBI Srinagar had already “bungled” investigation into two FIRs registered against DDK Srinagar officials in 2009 and 2010.

“Directors of DDK Srinagar have been past masters in managing things with local staff of central agencies. Proved cases have been closed as not established. We have no faith in local staff of these agencies. We know that their relatives have also got largesse of programmes from some former Directors of Srinagar Doordarshan”, members of the delegation said. They made it clear that nothing short of a CBI inquiry, to be held by a senior Delhi-based officer, would be credible or acceptable to the producers and artists community in J&K.

Their specific demand included a detailed, transparent CBI inquiry into the circumstances in which in-house programmes to the order of Rs 52 Cr have been approved by a former Director of DDK Srinagar, namely Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, for just last three months of his tenure before his transfer to Mandi House. “Nobody from Delhi has asked Dr Masoodi how he had approved hundreds of proposal files and created huge liability of Rs 52 Cr in three months without any allotment of funds or commitment from Directorate General of Doordarshan”, said a member.

“CBI inquiry will make it clear that advance commission at the rate of 25 percent of the approved amount has been received from each beneficiary producer”, revealed a DDK Srinagar officer. He confirmed the huge figure of Rs 52 Cr liability having been created by Masoodi in just three months and challenged Mandi House to contradict it. According to him, Masoodi had doled out packages of hundreds of programmes and serials to few families without availability of funds.

These underground beneficiaries, according to the DD insider, included a number of illiterate persons and government employees who have been shown as suppliers of assorted facilities on the proposals approved by Dr Masoodi but who have actually never entered DDK Srinagar premises. Bribe money of Rs 70 Lakh has been allegedly received from just one private producer living in Shivpora locality of Srinagar.

“If New Delhi has to really make Kashmir a part of India, it has to put Kashmir’s Suresh Kalmadi’s and A Rajas too in Tihar Jail. Scams in DDK Srinagar and so-called Kashir Channel are miniature versions of Common Wealth Games scam and 2-G scam”, observed a senior television artist.

Local Congress leader, Jan Mohammad Rishi, has no hesitation to state on record that Srinagar-based officials of central agencies were either disinterested or simply protecting the corrupt DD officials. “I had approached Srinagar-based officials of a central investigating agency with material evidence of embezzlement of funds and forgery at DDK Srinagar. They disappointed me with the plea that they had very little staff and many more things to do”, Rishi complained.

The Congress activist made a sensational disclosure that after getting disappointed, he had sent detailed representations with material proof to Director of CBI, A P Singh, by registered post on May 25th, 2011, underscoring the apprehension that DDK Srinagar could destroy records in case action was not quickly initiated in the matter.

“Officers in Delhi ordered an inquiry and a team, led by senior Vigilance official Girish Bhat was scheduled to arrive in Srinagar in the first week of August. Still, the fire occurred and some records were burnt on July 28th”, Rishi disclosed. He claimed that his letters, all sent by registered mail, had since gone to DG Doordrashan, CEO of Prasar Bharti, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, union Minister of Home and the union Home Secretary who had all assured him that the rot of corruption at DDK Srinagar would be arrested.

 “I am hopeful of justice but, till date, there has been no substantive action. Corrupt officials are continuously calling the shots at many quarters”, added Rishi who alleged that empanelment of news stringers and distribution of their assignments had been “fudged in a brazen manner”. However, officials at RNU said that Rishi’s allegations were not objective as his son was himself a news stringer. They asserted that politicians of all parties had been “blackmailing” news staff in order to ensure excessive coverage in daily bulletins.


DGP Khoda becomes seniormost among all IAS, IPS, IFS officers of J&K cadre

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 4: With the superannuation of P S Gill as Director General of Punjab Police at the end of current month, DG of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Kuldeep Khoda, will have the distinction of being the seniormost official among All India Services---IAS, IPS, IFS---officers of Jammu and Kashmir cadre. Senior by one year to the country’s Home Secretary, R P Singh, Khoda is presently sharing this distinction with only Gill.
Currently, Gill and Khoda are the seniormost IPS officers of J&K cadre. Born in Moga township of Punjab on September 9th, 1951, Gill had joined as an IPS officer of J&K cadre on July 14th, 1974. He is due to retire from service on September 30th. After holding several top level positions in J&K Police, Gill had proceeded on a deputation to his home state and was appointed as DG of Punjab Police in July 2009. His last posting in J&K was Commissioner Vigilance.

Born on 28-05-1952 in Srinagar, Khoda too had joined as J&K cadre IPS officer on 14-07-1974. Being younger to Gill, he is due to reach superannuation on 31-05-2012. After holding senior positions in the home state, Khoda was appointed as DG of J&K Police in July 2007. If left intact for the next nine months, he will be holding the honour of serving as DG of J&K Police for nearly 5 years at the end of his 38-year-long service career in IPS---maximum in last 25 years.

Interestingly, Khoda’s immediate juniors in IPS, J&K cadre, Commissioner Vigilance P L Gupta and Additional DGP Armed/ Law & Order, K Rajendra Kumar, are both 10 to 11 years junior to him in service. While as Rajindra (DOB 24-09-1956) had joined IPS on 21-08-1984, Gupta (DOB 04-08-1955) had joined on 04-01-1985. All others, who have been recently elevated to the position of ADGP in J&K, are 1986-batch IPS officers. Rajindra is from Andhra Pradesh and Gupta is a state subject.

In IAS, Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who was born in Delhi on 04-06-1955, happens to be the seniormost among all J&K cadre IAS officers. He is from IAS batch of 1977. Recalled from a central deputation, Madhav Lal took over as Chief Secretary of J&K state on 01-02-2011. He shares the honour of being the seniormost IAS officer of J&K cadre with only Pervez Dewan (DOB 13-10-1954) who is on a central deputation, followed by a study leave, till 01-12-2011. Dewan is a resident of Laridara village of Baramulla district but his father had settled in Delhi in 1960s.

In IFS, Jagdish Kishwan has the distinction of being the only officer of 1975 batch, J&K cadre, after the retirement of Irshad Ahmad Khan on August 31, 2011. Currently on central deputation, Kishwan served as PCCF in J&K for about a year before R D Tiwari took over the seniormost position of the Forest service in J&K in October 2010. He was, however, confirmed as PCCF earlier this year.

Kishwan, who joined IFS, J&K cadre, on 01-03-1975, is due to reach superannuation on 30-09-2012. In his absence, R D Tiwari, who joined IFS, J&K cadre on 01-03-1977, is now the seniormost IFS officer in J&K. He is, however, due to retire on 31-12-2011.


Commissions or rehabilitation centres for retired officials?

Deadwood of Kashmir, Jammu universities may not deliver in SIC

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Sep 3: In total dismissal of Supreme Court of India’s judgment in P J Thomas case, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to completely bar entry of the representatives of civil society into its transparency and accountability commissions. Some retired and retiring government officials, including two former professors of law from universities of Kashmir and Jammu, who are favourites of politicians on account of their personal relationship with them, are being considered for rehabilitation in the much-hyped Jammu & Kashmir State Information Commission (SIC).

While quashing the appointment of Thomas as head of the Central Vigilance Commission, Supreme Court had earlier this year laid considerable stress on appointment of the representatives of civil society in such apex bodies. It was in the backdrop of that judgment that radical changes became necessary in constitution of State Vigilance Commission (SVC) in Jammu & Kashmir even after it was constituted in accordance with an existing law.

It was even before Supreme Court’s snub to the political establishment that lawmakers in Jammu and Kashmir had created room for appointment of the representatives of civil society in the State Information Commission. Omar Abdullah’s coalition government picked up a retiring official of central taxation service as Chief Information Commissioner. However, the appointment of Mr Ghulam Rasool Sufi was appreciated from all quarters in view of his being a son of soil as well as a man of meticulously clean service span. Sufi has demonstrated adequate dynamism in establishing sanctity, influence and writ of the SIC that he launched from a straw.

However, for months, government did not show any interest in completing constitution of the SIC with the appointment of two State Information Commissioners. Disappointment in the matter forced Governor N N Vohra to break a tradition on the day of swearing-in of Chairman and a member of State Accountability Commission. Governor delivered a speech, only to bring home to the state government that constitution of all commissions could be no more delayed. He made a specific mention of the need of appointing two State Information Commissioners as required by law.

Weeks later, Government began coming out of its slumber, albeit with glaring ill intentions. When a coordination committee of six coalition members, three each from NC and Congress, met in Srinagar on Friday, it began giving its own individual interpretations to the law, only to make it clear that blue-eyed boys of politicians were being rehabilitated in the name of completing constitution of the SIC. Prof Saifuddin Soz, Mangat Ram Sharma and Tara Chand represented Congress. NC was represented by two of its senior Cabinet Ministes, namely Abdul Rahim Rather and Ali Mohammad Sagar, besides a former Minister and sitting MLA Choudhary Ramzan.

Well placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that NC and Congress decided to share the vacancies on 1:1 basis. It was also decided that one Commissioner would be from Kashmir and another from Jammu. That all makes sense. But, when the names were floated, some of the members began justifying the appointment of two retired professors of law from Kashmir and Jammu universities with their “interpretation” that Section 12, Sub section (5) makes it incumbent to appoint only men of “legal background”. Nobody asked them if veteran incumbents like Wajahat Habibullah or our own Chief Information Commissioner Mr Sufi had any “legal background”.

One of the members asserted that head of the SIC Mr Sufi had written a letter to Chief Minister that he needed “only men of legal background”. The letter did not surface in the meeting. Nor did any one ask was the Chief Information Commissioner by law competent to write such a letter or what was the law or rule that gave the Chairman any role in selection of State Information Commissioners.

Relevant provision of Section 12 sub section (5) of J&K State Information Commission Act of 2009 makes it unambiguously clear that even the representatives of civil society could be appointed as the head or members of the SIC. It reads: “The State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance”.

Sources revealed that neither of the two individuals considered in the meeting is “person of eminence” in respective fields and their qualification was nothing but their proximity to certain influential politicians.

“They are being appointed for the purpose of their post-retirement rehabilitation, not for delivering in SIC”, said a senior government official. He said that a brigade of blue-eyed boys of politicians had already launched hectic lobbying to grab a position in Public Service Commission (PSC), where the term of three members ended earlier this year, State Vigilance Commission, where all appointments are pending in absence of an amendment in law as also in State Human Rights Commission and State Consumers Commission where some heads and members are retiring in next few weeks. “It appears to be a grand post-retirement package for favourites of politicians”, another senior bureaucrat observed.

Three- member selection committee, headed by Chief Minister, is meeting in the summer capital on Monday to select two  State Information Commissioners. One of the members is supposed to be the nominee of Chief Minister, most likely Dy CM Tara Chand while as Leader of the Opposition and head of PDP’s legislature party in Assembly, Mehbooba Mufti, is the third member. On the recommendations of this panel, Governor N N Vohra may subsequently issue the warrants of appointment.