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Sunday, February 19, 2012

BOSE has a history of neutralizing FIRs

Parents complained ‘Zalim’ illustration to Anantnag Police; Srinagar Police allegedly hushed up the matter; Guilty official nominated as Secretary of Cultural Academy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 17: Even before neatly escaping action in the recently flared up matter of unfair means involving Minister of Education Peerzada Sayeed and his family members, J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE) has managed to hush up equally serious criminal matters in the past. Under political intervention from top echelons of the state government, BOSE officials are reported to have got hushed up the matter of an objectionable illustration in the text book of First Primary class as recently as in December 2011.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that parents of some government schoolchildren complained to SSP Anantnag, R K Jalla, in the month of December 2011 that part-1 of ‘Baharistaan-e-Urdu’, a text book for first primary, contained a “highly objectionable illustration of demonizing Police”. SSP Anantnag referred the matter to IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, who directed SSP Srinagar to get the matter registered at Police Station Parimpora, in close vicinity of BOSE headquarters in Bemina area. Police started the investigation immediately.

Police filed FIR No: 317 of 2011 under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 124-A (sedition), 502 RPC (defamation) and 504 RPC (provocation) against unnamed officials of BOSE, subject experts and others associated with drawing and approving the illustrations and publishing the text books. Police achieved breakthrough and succeeded in identification of all the individuals involved in the crime within a week. However, suddenly some “go slow” instructions from the political executive resulted in freezing the entire process. Police were “directed” to hold on and make its investigation subservient to BOSE’s own “departmental inquiry” that was set into motion for the purpose of absolving senior officials and looking for the scapegoats.

Even the findings of that “departmental inquiry” were never shared with Police in the last two months, sources said.

In an illustration with the letter Zuai (Z), the text book had depicted Policeman as a savage. Even the Police headquarters and the state Home Department had reportedly taken exception to BOSE’s act of publicly demonizing Police and generating hatred against Police in the tender minds in conflict-riddled Kashmir valley.

In its quick and panic reaction, BOSE issued a circular and thereby withdrew the controversial text book. When it was pointed out to the top ranking officials that withdrawing of a text book, that was in circulation for the last over 15 months in entire state, was neither possible nor a solution, it directed headmasters to obliterate the illustration with a black stamp on each and every book. 

Sources associated with the investigation disclosed that within days, Police got each and every person involved in the criminal act identified and interrogated. It learned from Desk Top Publishing (DTP) operator, Abdul Gani, that Academics department of BOSE had provided him a CD containing 150 illustrations. Deputy Director of Academics, then officiating as Director of Academics, rejected both the illustrations---first one that of a cruel husband torturing his wife and second one of another form of domestic violence. Most of the private public schools have adopted these very images for the letter “Zuai”. Intriguingly, the BOSE official was satisfied only when the DTP operator used an illustration, showing a Policeman in uniform, a Police cap on head and a baton in his hand.

Interestingly, a search committee constituted by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as Chairman of J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Language, recommended the same Deputy Director of Academics of BOSE for the prestigious post of the Secretary of Cultural Academy, albeit in September. The committee was headed by NC’s MLC and prominent Kashmiri litterateur, Mohammad Yousuf Taing, and had Commissioner-Secretary Culture, Atul Duloo, among its members.

Three members of the BOSE Advisory Committee on curriculum asserted to this newspaper that they had never been shown the matter or the illustrations. “BOSE held a series of workshops on refurbishing text books from Class 1 to Class 12th. There were academic discussions on different subjects but the script of the text books was never provided to us for our opinion”, said a member and eminent Urdu poet, Rukhsana Jabeen, who is currently officiating as Director of Programmes at Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Two others corroborated that BOSE mentioned the names of the advisory committee in the text books and just subjected them to huge embarrassment with the selection and publication of objectionable material.

Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) in West zone of Srinagar District Police, Shailender Mishra, declined to admit that Police had either hushed up the matter or was sleeping over it under pressure from BOSE and Department of School Education. “We have investigated the matter and established the crime after questioning all the officials and others, including advisory committee members. We are convinced about criminal culpability of the individuals. We have also quizzed BOSE Chairman Sheikh Bashir Ahmad who refused to admit there was anything criminal in the illustration. We will be soon producing challan in a court of law”, the young IPS officer told Early Times.

SDPO explained that Police withheld its investigation temporarily and decided to see what BOSE finds in its in-house departmental inquiry. “We are not bound to wait for it, not do we treat our investigation subservient to BOSE inquiry findings, but we wanted to wait and make our case stronger”, Shailender said.  He confirmed that Police had not till date arrested anybody in this particular matter.


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