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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hurriyat expects ‘unimaginable turmoil’ after revocation of AFSPA

Both factions say Gen Hasnain is right, Kashmir will separate from India

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 12: Both factions of Kashmir’s premier separatist conglomerate, led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and cleric-politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, are expecting “unimaginable turmoil” in the Valley following revocation of Jammu & Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In two separately issued statements today, they endorsed 15th Corps Commander Gen S A Hasnain’s purported apprehension that withdrawal of the special powers from armed forces would inevitably lead to Kashmir’s separation from India---albeit with their archaic claim that no Kashmiri would accept Indian sovereignty in absence of military and its extraordinary authority.

According to the statement from Geelani’s faction of Hurriyat Conference, Gen Hasnain has “unwittingly” admitted that the “Indian occupation” in Kashmir is subservient to the country’s military might and impunity. “The Army’s observation has made it abundantly clear that withdrawal of AFSPA would be closely followed by a massive revolt against the (Indian) occupation that would make impossible even a day of the Indian control in Kashmir”, spokesman Ayaz Akbar said.

Hurriyat’s statements have obviously come in quick reaction to Gen Hasnain’s apprehensions carried in a section of the national media on Friday. As reported by Praveen Swami of The Hindu, Gen Hasnain had expressed his opposition to the suggestion of withdrawal of AFSPA from six of the 20 districts in Jammu & Kashmir in a presentation to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other participants of the Unified Headquarters meeting in Jammu early this week. Without any reaction from Army, Hasnain is quoted to have cautioned that revocation of AFSPA, followed by withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan next year and simultaneously increasing OIC influence in the UN, would lead to Kashmir’s separation from India by 2016.

Geelani’s spokesman emphasized that “ending India’s forced military occupation” in Kashmir was the fundamental demand of the Kashmiris which, according to him, could be realized after withdrawal of special powers from the Indian armed forces. He said that by virtue of these powers, troops had been “suppressing and decimating the Kashmiris” and thus sustaining the “rule of occupation”.

“As soon as Disturbed Areas Act, AFSPA and other draconian laws go, India will not find a single individual accepting its sovereignty in Jammu & Kashmir. It will, in fact, lead to unimaginable mass revolt against the Indian military occupation in Kashmir”, Ayaz Akbar said in the Hurriyat (Geelani) statement.

In an identical statement, a Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) spokesman observed that Gen Hasnain’s assertion was an authentic admission of the fact that the Indian military rule would not sustain even for a day in Kashmir in absence of its troops and the special powers enjoyed by them. “In his observation, General (Hasnain) has admitted that Indian rule in Jammu & Kashmir for nearly 70 years is the result of military occupation and that nobody in Kashmir wants to live with India”, the Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) statement added.

Both the statements insisted that the ruling National Conference’s campaign for revocation of AFSPA was part of the mainstream political gimmickry and posturing aimed at hoodwinking the party’s votebank in the Valley. They alleged that NC’s, as well as other mainstream parties’ objective was nothing but grabbing the power by hook or by crook. They said that NC could go to any extent in its obsession of sticking to power.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Despite his apologies, Delhi asks Farooq to fire Kamaal

AICC takes umbrage on ‘unwarranted’ remarks against Rahul Gandhi; Farooq seeks resignation from Kamaal

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 10: In its first assertion of authority and command in the last three years of NC-Congress coalition, Congress high command has asked National Conference patriarch and Minister in Dr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, Dr Farooq Abdullah, to stop his younger brother, Mustafa Kamaal, from extending his anti-Congress, anti-Delhi and anti-Army tirade to the party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi. Working obsequiously on the warning from Delhi, Dr Abdullah has immediately asked Mr Kamaal to tender his resignation, both as NC’s Chief Spokesman and additional General Secretary.

Highly connected political sources revealed to Early Times that a senior leader of Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) this evening mailed one of Dr Mustafa Kamaal’s interviews, purportedly given to Kashmir News Service, with a note of caution to All India Congress Committee (AICC). In the interview circulated today, Kamaal is quoted to have rebuffed JKPCC chief Prof Said-ud-din Soz’s revelation that the AICC General Secretary had lately expressed his “unhappiness” over the quality of governance in Omar Abdullah-led government in Jammu & Kashmir.

In the interview carried in today’s Greater Kashmir, Prof Soz is quoted to have said: “I will tell you honestly that even Rahul Gandhi is not happy with governance here and he expressed his disapproval when he visited the state last month. He was not satisfied with what is happening here. Many young entrepreneurs talked to him during the visit and raised the issue of a kind of ‘disconnect’ between the youth of the state and the government”.

Soz is further quoted to have said: “Coalition is a compulsion and we have to be in coalition but we have fallen short of expectations. There are many things that could have been done better in the governance and action against corruption. There is lot of corruption in the system which has made the life of common man difficult. But this is not to suggest that blame can be passed on to NC only. Governance is a joint responsibility”.

The KNS bulletin, that stirred a hornet’s nest at AICC, quoted Kamaal to have asserted that Rahul Gandhi’s displeasure was immaterial. “What has Rahul’s happiness or unhappiness to do with the functioning of the state government?” Kamaal is quoted to have asked. “If Soz has any specific corruption case, he should refer it to State Accountability Commission or State Vigilance Commission. He is part of the government and shouldn’t level such allegations in public”, Kamaal is quoted to have rebuffed Soz through KNS.

Sources said that men of consequence in AICC took umbrage on Dr Kamaal’s remarks and dismissed them as “completely unwarranted”. After taking 10-Janpath into confidence, Congress high command intensified its snub on the NC top brass. If these sources are to be believed, Dr Abdullah was categorically asked to “discipline your unbridled brother and stop him, at once, from extending his anti-Congress, anti-coalition, anti-Delhi and anti-Army tirade to the person of Mr Rahul Gandhi”. It was pointed out that with his “virulent statements”, Kamaal had not only violated the “coalition dharma” but also generated ill-will against the Centre and its armed forces.  

Even as Dr Abdullah is understood to have refreshed his last week’s apologies, he was tersely directed to remove Dr Kamaal from the key positions in his party at once. Last month only, Dr Abdullah had installed Kamaal simultaneously on the two important positions in the party. A Minister in Dr Abdullah’s coalition Government in 1987-90, Kamaal has been functioning as NC’s MLA from Hazratbal constituency since April 2009.

Amid flurry of political activity between New Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar, Dr Abdullah not only directed Dr Kamaal to tender his resignation from both the party positions but also made his embarrassment public through NC’s Media Cell.
NC’s press release this evening read: “President Jammu & Kashmir National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah has asked Dr Mustafa Kamaal to resign immediately as the Additional General Secretary and Chief spokesman of the party. Dr Farooq Abdullah said that he had to take this difficult decision because Dr Mustafa Kamaal has been making certain statements which are not in tandem with the policies of the National Conference and are against the Coalition Dharma. Dr Abdullah said Jammu & Kashmir National Conference is committed to the National Conference-Congress coalition government and its smooth functioning and any indiscipline in this regard within the National Conference will not be tolerated”.
Sources revealed that Dr Abdullah’s political detractors scored today’s point only after making Congress high command believe that Kamaal’s tirade was actually “NC’s drama” and it was not without sanction from NC top brass including President Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and General Secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmad. Significantly, both, Dr Abdullah as well as Omar Abdullah, had last week publicly distanced themselves from Kamaal’s statements and dismissed them as “unfortunate” but neither stopped him nor initiated any action against him.
In a quick succession, AICC’s snub to the NC has come close on the heals of an embarrassment caused to J&K Chief Minister on account of not permitting him to withdraw AFSPA on the eve of Durbar Move.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coalition’s ‘Deewali-Eid gift’ to unemployed youth is patently absurd, whimsical and nonsense

Ministers, who raised their own salaries from Rs 40,000 to Rs 90,000 in 2011, have no moral ground to slash salaries of inferior services by 75%

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 8: They call it a ‘revolutionary reform’ and claim that it has been done under pressure from the central Planning Commission but leaders of the ruling National Conference (NC) have little hesitation to admit privately that the coalition government’s new recruitment policy could prove to be the proverbial last nail in its coffin. “We are in shackles. Our lips are tight. But we are pretty aware that this nonsense recruitment policy is diagonally opposite to our Vision Document as well as NC’s Election Manifesto of 2008”, observed a senior functionary of the ruling party whose inputs had enriched the promises made to the electorate three years ago.

Failure to provide jobs to the unemployed youth was indisputably NC’s strongest criticism to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-Congress regime in 2002-2005. More than anything else, NC accordingly made employment as its biggest election plank in 2008. In its first year, the coalition floated the much-hyped SKEWPY which is miserably still a non-starter. Even the MOU between Department of Labour & Employment and Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd could not be inked for over a year. And when the contentious issues were finally resolved, hiccups continued to be galore.

Notwithstanding competent and high integrity officials, both in Department of Labour & Employment as well as the nodal agency, Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), Government has hardly a success story to showcase. Authorities have failed to create an alternative to the ‘madness’ of the state youth to hanker after the government jobs.

Towards the end of its first year in office, the coalition government began exposing its moral and intellectual bankruptcy. It withdrew the social security of the entire Generation Next with the decision that nobody joining government service from January 1st, 2010, would be entitled to pension and other post-retirement perks.

After two years of sustained struggle by a host of trade unions, Government finally surrendered before the employees’ leaders and announced to pay sixth pay commission arrears to all employees in five equal annual installments, beginning this year. If rumours are to be believed, superannuation cap is also being raised from 58 to 60 years. Nobody really knows, whether these “revolutionary measures” are the brainchild of Mr Jaleel Khan, Economic Advisor to J&K Government, or someone else in the high profile Department of Finance. At least three Ministers, who participated in the crucial Cabinet meetings on the subject, confided to Early Times that the “purely bureaucratic exercise” was passed without discussion of even five minutes.

Finally the fatal blow to the already alienated and depressed Generation Next was struck by the state Cabinet in its meeting on October 19, 2011, mercilessly on the eve of a convergence of festivals---Maha Navmi, Dussehra, Deewali and Eid-ul-Azha. Prisoners of the personal promotion, who did not rest until raising their own salaries from Rs 40,000 to Rs 90,000 a month, decided to reduce salaries of Class 3rd and 4th employees (joining government service after Nov 1st, 2011) by 60% to 75%.

According to the Cabinet Decision No: 193/23/2011 Dated 19-10-2011, followed by Government Order No: Government Order No: 257-F of 2011
Dated: 27-10-2010, a Class 4th employee, whose salary would be otherwise fixed at gross of Rs 13,000 a month, would now be paid a paltry Rs 3,170 for the first two years and thereafter Rs 4,610 for the next three years. Similarly, a high-end non-gazetted official in the Pay Band-2 of Rs 9300—Rs 34,800 (with grade pay of Rs 4,200) would get nothing more than Rs 7,050 a month for first two years, followed by Rs 10,430 for subsequent three years. Without the Cabinet Decision of 19-10-2011, same official’s salary would have been fixed at total of Rs 25,000 on 1-11-2011 while as his emoluments on 1-11-2016 would have been around Rs 34,000.

Civil society has already dismissed this decision as “begaar” (forced labour) and the opposition parties have begun to make it a major issue around this Durbar Move. “This is definitely absurd, irrational and without precedence in any of the Indian states in the last 64 years of Independence. But, our mandarins in the Department of Finance have their own logic. They insist that this decision would not only de-glamorize government jobs but would also cause savings needed to pay to the in-service employees as the arrears”, said a highly placed IAS officer. He did not contest the argument that it would directly promote absenteeism, corruption and other evils in the state services.

Socio-political analysts have no divergence over the apprehension that the so-called ‘Fixed Salary Mode’ recruitment policy would not only aggravate alienation, frustration and despondency among the educated youth trying their hands at a government job but would also sustain depression of even those who succeed in getting a job. “All those of us who were enamoured and enthusiastic by the glamour of RTI, Public Service Guarantee Act and anti-corruption campaign, would now feel constrained to make good their salary deduction of 75% by receiving bribes and other unfair means. Make me a Forest Range Officer and I am ready to accept zero-salary for 10 years. I will rather pay Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 a month to the Government from my earnings”, an RTI activist, with post-graduation in Forestry, said sarcastically.  

The ad hocist policy, framed over the NC-introduced ‘Rehbar-e-Taleem” pattern is blatantly in contravention to all existing labour laws in this country. High Court has already got it stayed. Even a complete rollback would not fully neutralize damages of the government’s intellectual bankruptcy. Interestingly, the state bureaucrats, who ensured that Ministers’ salaries remained pretty lower to those of Commissioner-Secretaries and above, have kept all superior services out of the ambit of new “Gareeb Hatao Recruitment Policy”.