Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Omar, Farooq may stay away from SKIMS event

Director’s appointment challenged in High Court

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 3: Reportedly not satisfied with the quality of functioning of the state’s only tertiary care hospital, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also happens to be the Chairman of the highest decision making Governing Body, is unlikely to attend the SKIMS annual day function at SKICC here on its founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s birth anniversary on December 5th. If highly placed sources are to be believed, National Conference President and union Minister of New & Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, would not be a guest on the occasion either. All of Sheikh’s sons and daughters, including Dr Abdullah, and grandson Omar Abdullah would, however, perform Fatiha at his mausoleum after paying obeisance at the nearby revered shrine of Hazratbal early in the morning on Monday.

Coming parallel to Ashoora, the 10th Moharram martyrdom anniversary of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain, Sheikh’s birth anniversary on December 5th would be a lackluster event this year in Kashmir. Government has already either preponed or postponed or canceled most of the official functions, including public meetings, inaugurations and foundation laying ceremonies previously scheduled on December 5th. These include the ground-breaking function of Rs 350 Cr conservation and development project of Wullar Lake in Sumbal-Bandipore belt.

Sources said that inauguration of a guest house and hotel block of Entrepreneurship Development Institute at Pampore, which is expected to be attended by Chief Minister as well as Minister incharge Industries Sujit Singh Salathia, had also been postponed to December 7th.

National Conference circles today insisted that Sheikh’s birth anniversary would be restricted to the solemn ritual of offering Fatiha and recitation of verses from holy Quran. They said that there be neither a public remembrance meeting at the mausoleum nor any political speeches by leaders of the party.

However, unmindful of the solemnity of Moharram, SKIMS authorities have made all arrangements to hold the Annual Day function of the super-specialty hospital and deemed university on December 5th. If Chairman of the SKIMS Governing Body and union Cabinet Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah chose to stay away, it would be for the time in the last 28 years of age of the hospital that no member from Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s family would be present on this occasion.

Even as Minister incharge Medical Education, Mr R S Chib, is said to have communicated to the SKIMS authorities that he would try his best to be present there for 10 minutes, as of now Minister of State for Health, Javed Dar, is the one-odd political figure who has confirmed his attendance. According to sources, Chief Minister’s Secretariat has conveyed that Mr Omar Abdullah would be “too preoccupied to attend” the SKIMS event on December 5th. Conformation of this communication was not available immediately.

Even as the reason behind Omar Abdullah’s and Dr Abdullah’s reported absence on the event is not precisely known, sources believed to be close to the ruling family maintain that both were “unhappy” with the quality of service at SKIMS. According to these sources, litigations have marred the academic and research atmosphere at the hospital for the last many months. Things have deteriorated to the extent that Professor and Head of Cardio-Vascular and Thorasic Surgery, Dr A G Ahangar, has not only challenged the incumbent Director of SKIMS Dr Shaukat zargar’s appointment in April this year in J&K High Court but has also leveled serious allegations on the competence and integrity of the members of the Search Committee. Dr Ahangar has, inter alia, asked how Members of the Search Committee could interview and recommend their own close relatives and personal physicians.

Having failed to submit his response to the writ petition by its fixed date of November 16th, incumbent Director is understood to have filed a detailed rejoinder to the petitioner last week.

Faculty has also begun to raise questions over the re-employment of a retired woman official (Deputy Registrar) who has been brought back within a month of her retirement and re-employed as Registrar, albeit with a non-cadre nomenclature of the post. Mrs Mehjabeen Banday would function as Registrar but hold the post of “Consultant Academic” against a handsome salary.

Yet another high profile litigation has come up between Additional Professor of the Department of Urology Dr Saleem Wani and Professor Baldev Singh, who has functioned as Professor and Head of the Department for over two decades but has been now designated as a Professor of General Surgery, on recommendations of a committee constituted under court orders, allegedly to pave way for Dr Wani’s headship.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Haji Yousuf death inquiry

Bedi Commission to start proceedings after Dec 15th

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 30: National Panthers Party patron Prof Bhim Singh’s petition before Supreme Court of India, seeking CBI investigation in the National Conference (NC) activist Haji Mohammad Yousuf’s death in controversial circumstances, has come up as an impediment in kick-starting proceedings of Justice (retired) H S Bedi’s Commission of Inquiry on the same subject.

Justice H S Bedi, who reached here on Monday last, has set up his office-cum-residence at Hari Niwas Palace. This historic building had been renovated during Ghulam Nabi Azad’s regime in 2006-08 at a staggering cost and declared as Chief Minister’s residence. However, carrying the image of a jinxed premises, Azad’s successor, Omar Abdullah, did not establish his residence at Hari Niwas. Azad’s government had fallen within weeks of his shifting from J&K Bank’s Guest House near famous Zethiyar Temple to Hari Niwas in 2008.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that Bedi set up his office and residence at Hari Niwas. On advice from the state government, staff of nearly half-a-dozen officials was provided to Justice Bedi by J&K State Human Rights Commission and Department of Law while as few more officials are also being deployed for his assistance by J&K High Court.

Law Secretary, according to sources, had a detailed meeting with Bedi at Hari Niwas. Sources revealed that during the course of the meeting, Bedi expressed surprise over the fact that he had not been informed about Bhim Singh’s petition being under consideration of Supreme Court of India for admission. The apex court is expected to declare its verdict on the petition’s admission on December 15th.

Consequently, Bedi made it clear on the state government that even if there was not a specific bar, it would be contrary to propriety to hold parallel judicial proceedings on the same subject. He is understood to have asserted that he could kick-start formal proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry only after declaration of Supreme Court’s verdict on a PIL filed by Prof Bhim Singh on behalf of NPP President and MLA of Udhampur, Balwan Singh Mankotia.

According to these sources, Mr Bedi would be flying back to New Delhi tomorrow to have a detailed discussion with Registry of Supreme Court of India and top bureaucrats at union Ministry of Law and Justice. Officials maintained that he would be visiting New Delhi only to get some of his family members to Srinagar.

Sources said that Mr Bedi would return to Srinagar in the next couple of days. Until December 15th, he would be obtaining and examining material evidence like CCTV footage of Chief Minister’s residence, post mortem report prepared by doctors of Police Hospital and Department of Forensic Medicine Government Medical College Srinagar, forensic opinion prepared by Forensic Science Laboratory besides the text of FIR filed by Crime Branch, newspaper reports and press conferences of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and senior government functionaries like Principal Secretary of Home, B R Sharma, and Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda.

Notification, inviting all concerned who had any first hand knowledge about the sequence of events, would be subject to the disposal of Mr Mankotia’s PIL at Supreme Court of India.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NC’s MP targets Govt’s most powerful---Omar, Rana, Nasir, Vyas, Khoda

But Mr Rattanpuri spares Farooq, other oldies of his party; calls J&K a Police State

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 29: In an unprecedented embarrassment for his party National Conference (NC) and Omar Abdullah-led coalition Government, broadcaster-turned-politician and Member of Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Rattanpuri, has called Jammu & Kashmir a ‘Police-run state’. It is for the first time in the last three years that someone, holding the position of a Member of Parliament, has not only raised fingers on functioning of the ruling party and its regime but has also bluntly targeted the state government’s most powerful---Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Political Advisor to CM Devender Singh Rana, Minister of State Home Nasir Aslam Wani besides Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Bharat Bhushan Vyas and Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda.

The in-house strife within the NC came to the fore when maverick Rattanpuri chose media proactively to make it public that unrest among the principal ruling party’s cadres was leading to disillusionment and discomfiture. It is still not a left, right and the centre offensive but Rattanpuri’s audacity in directly assailing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his powerful coterie, that sent him to Parliament in 2009, is widely being perceived as meaningful. And the timing is no less significant: beginning of a judicial inquiry that could for the first time have a head of the government in the dock.

As if Omar Abdullah’s and his political and administrative coterie’s tribulation in Haji Yousuf episode was not enough, Rattanpuri timed his salvo with Justice (retired) H S Bedi’s arrival in Srinagar and a quick reaction from Chief Minister’s advisor Mubarak Gul suggested that it had hit the proverbial hornets’ nest in the top echelons of power. Remember that Rattanpuri is not Omar’s “most respected uncle” (Dr Mustafa Kamaal) whose escapades---impromptu or planned---could be condoned by Gupkar Road and Nawa-e-Subah.

Rattanpuri’s revolt is perceptibly sequel to the “humiliation” he faced at the hands of SP in his home district of Pulwama earlier this year. Shortly after Minister of Social Welfare Sakeena Itoo taught Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Afzal Bhat a lesson and got him removed from Pulwama when he declined to oblige her in certain ‘objectionable’ matters, NC’s MP declared his war on IPS officer Amit Kumar. Like Sakeena, Rattanpuri began to assert against the “impolite behaviour” of a Junior Engineer in PHE Department. Unlike DC, this time around it was SP who had the last laugh.

Months after the clash, Rattanpuri went public through a Srinagar-based newspaper followed by local news agency KNS. Even as men in the Government wasted time in digging call detail records between the NC’s MP and a senior leader of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee, the successful broadcaster-turned-failed politician bull-dozed straight into the CM’s turf. He told KNS that CM’s Political Advisor (Mr D S Rana) was providing patronage to arrogant and “anti-Kashmiri” officers in Police and civil administration.

Seeking to draw comparison, Rattanpuri pointed out that Government had lately fired two of the senior Police officers (SSP Basant Rath and SP Mubassir Latifi) on account of their “indecent language” against some Jammu-based politicians. But the same dispensation, according to him, chose to be a mute spectator to the Pulwama SP’s “public humiliation of an MP” and a spillover of insult on him from “the emboldened and unbridled” Police department. He went wild to allege that DGP Kuldeep Khoda was a man of “poor command and control” of his organisation. If Rattanpuri is to be believed, DGP recently supplied SPOs to thicken PDP patriarch Mufti Sayeed’s public meeting in Srinagar

According to the MP, J&K is a state fully ruled by Police and nobody, from a street boy to a sitting nationalist MP, carried any relevance. Everybody in Kashmir, he says, is “insecure”. NC cadres, including Ministers, according to him, are “disappointed and disillusioned”. Holding Rana responsible for the “growing unrest among Kashmiris”, Rattanpuri does not spare even his top boss.

“When I narrated things in detail in a Working Committee meeting and demanded an inquiry into discrimination (against the Kashmiris), CM’s Political Advisor took it upon himself and began to speak in defence. He was soon silenced by CM who began aggressively defending his aide. When I objected, CM silenced me with uncharitable phraseology. Though I have forgotten those bad moments, he hasn’t. He doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me”, Omar’s favourite for Assembly and Rajya Sabha elections said. He added that CM’s aides had spent “all of their ammunition” to make him uncomfortable in the party. He attributed it to “well designed discrimination”.

Having berated Chief Minister, his Political Advisor and DGP, Rattanpuri outstretched his anger to MoS Home Nasir Sogami, albeit without mentioning any names. “Those very people whose families conspired against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and did the worst of treason, are now calling the shots in National Conference”, Rattanpuri said obviously to assail Wani who has grown closest among all politicians and Ministers to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Wani’s legendary grandfather, Ghulam Nabi Wani Sogami, had sided with Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad who rewarded him with induction as Minister of Forest after Sheikh’s dismissal and arrest in 1953.

Again, with an obvious reference to Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary, B B Vyas, Rattanpuri has complained that the all-important Department of Planning was “without a full-time head” for the last over a year. Mr Vyas has been simultaneously holding the charge of Principal Secretary of Planning and Development, Information, Estates, Civil Aviation, Hospitality & Protocol. Few of politicians and newspapers have been raising the issue of his being “overburdened” when they want to fire an effective missile on CM’s courtyard. Rattanpuri has not spared even this beaten track.