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Monday, June 11, 2012

Information Department in FF mode after Reenzu’s exit

District Judge described as ‘Justice’, CM’s praise on Khoda released over one hour before his dinner speech at Taj

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 10: Those in Omar Abdullah’s government, who had grown skeptical with regard to running of the all-important Department of Information on Farooq Reenzu’s attachment and subsequent adjustment in Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) last month, have been proved wrong. Although, the department under the stewardship of the new Director Zaffar Ahmad Bhat has been circulating certain ‘PR’ items in ‘Dak Edition’ ---days after a particular event---most of the public relations and image-building news items of the Government are actually provided to media in advance of an event. In Reenzu’s era, Department would erroneously describe a District & Sessions Judge as Sub Judge. In Zaffar’s era, District Judges are affectionately described as High Court Judges.

Exactly the day Mr Justice M M Kumar arrived in Srinagar, alongwith a number of family members and staff, to take oath as the new Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir, Directorate of Information circulated Press Note No: No: PR/DI/2012/919/tk/as/ to hundreds of its media customers. It was received by journalists on June 6th at 8:45 p.m. It repeatedly mentioned Principal District & Sessions Judge Srinagar, Kaneez Fatima, as “Justice” (a High Court Judge).

Para No: 1 of the press release reads: “SRINAGAR, JUNE 06: After inaugurating the Free Legal Aid Centre sponsored by District Legal Services Authority Centre in the premises of Central Jail, Srinagar, the Principal District and Session Judge, Srinagar and the Chairperson, District Legal Services Authority Srinagar, Justice Kaneez Fatima highlighted the main objective of establishing the Free Legal Aid Center in the Premises of Central Jail Srinagar”.

Para No: 4 of the same press release reads: “Justice Fatima asked the people to avail the services being provided by Legal Services Authorities with regard to settlement of various disputes, jail related matters, medical facilities and other vital issues. She said that three such free aid legal centres have already been established in Faqir Gujri, Dhara and New Theed and under the National Action Plan, more such centres will be established in the coming future in colleges and universities and villages  so that those people who are living from hand to mouth with the meager amount and are not financially sound would be benefitted by free legal services”.

Para No: 5 of it further reads: “Justice Fatima said that the inmates can utilize the services of the para-legal voluntaries to approach the retain lawyers for redressing their grievances within no time free of cost”.

Sources say that when members of the CJ-designate’s entourage read the news item carried without any correction by the local English dailies on June 7th, they began asking each other who this Justice Fatima was in J&K High Court. It was only the next day, at the swearing-in ceremony at SKICC on June 8th, that members of Bar and judiciary learned that the Department of Information had in fact addressed the lady judge incorrectly as ‘Justice’ in its press release.

On occasion of IGP Kashmir Shiv Murari Sahai’s ceremonial dinner in honour of the outgoing Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, Directorate of Information was not only more loyal than the king but also in the Fast Forward mode in servicing the Chief Minister. As per the programme, the dinner function at Taj By Vivanta started at 8.00 pm. VVIPs, including Chief Minister and the chief guest Khoda, did not arrive in before 9.00 p.m.  Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and a few others could not attend due to some urgency but were all shown present by Information Department at the high dinner.

Zaffar Ahmad’s more-than-alert Directorate of Information released the following press release No: PR/DI/12/773/ to mediapersons by email at exactly 7:49 p.m---around 100 minutes before the Chief Minister actually honoured Khoda and delivered a brief speech in his praise:-

“SRINAGAR, JUNE 01 – Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah participated in a dinner hosted last night in honour of former Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda who retired from service yesterday. Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, Advisors to the Chief Ministers, Devender Singh Rana and Mubarak Gul, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, Principle Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyes, In-charge Director General Police, K. Rajindera were present among others.

Speaking on the occasion the Chief Minister highlighted the outstanding and meritorious service rendered by Mr. Khoda in various capacities and as the head of the Jammu and Kashmir Police Force. He wished bright and prosperous life to Mr. Khoda”.

However, in sharp contrast to the CM’s speech, that was released to media 100 minutes before it was actually delivered, poor Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara, Sheikh Sarmad Hafeez, found his press release being delivered through ‘Dak Edition’ of the Department of Information. DC Kupwara reviewed the arrangements of the annual Urs at Muqaam-e-Shah Wali at Drugmulla on June 3rd and the Urs concluded on June 4th.

However, Directorate of Information released press note No: PR/K/2012/867/Sgr by email to media on June 5th at 6:28 p.m and same was carried by the newspapers on June 6th---two days after the Urs at Drugmulla had concluded. It reads:-

“KUPWARA, JUNE 05: The Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, Mr. Sarmad Hafeez today visited the Shrine place of Zatishah Wali (RA) at Drugmulla and reviewed the arrangements for devotees who throng at the Shrine from nook and corner of the district in connection with Urs celebration commenced from today. The Deputy Commissioner Kupwara alongwith officers of different departments attended the religious function and interacted with the local Ziyarat Committee and enquired about the facilities are being provided to the devotees during the Urs days.  The devotees are attending the Urs proceedings while religious preachers threw light on the religious contribution of the Zatishah Wali (RA) during his lifetime”.


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