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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hr Education: Where bureaucrats quote Bible and clerks practice nepotism

Class IV recruitment scam: Part 2

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 24: Commissioner-Secretary of Higher Education Department, Tanvir Jehan, as she herself revealed to this newspaper, made consistent efforts for ten days to explore possibility of her Orderly’s absorption against a Class IV vacancy when the process of regularizing 130 Local Fund Employees (LFEs) was in its last leg. The orderly, Munish, has been engaged like hundreds of others in the last 18 years to work as a Class IV employee but take remuneration of less than Rs 3,000 a month from the College Local Fund. All of her efforts to favour Munish failed. He does not figure anywhere among 130 men and women who have been appointed vide Order No: 50/HE of 2012 dated 17-02-2012.
Shameema of Bemina, who is now a grandmother of four children and stands engaged on LF in 1994, has been dropped for being only “Middle Pass”. Nobody has explained to her how four incumbents of the same category (Open), qualification and year of engagement have been appointed as Laboratory Bearers and one more from the list as Library Bearer. Matriculate of 1994 (Roll No: 872479) Gulshan Ara, who has been engaged on 29-10-1996 has been shown as “Middle Pass” despite her name and qualification being duly recorded and verified in all the tentative and final lists of LFEs published in newspapers by Department of Higher Education, Civil Secretariat. On this pretext, Gulshan Ara has been elbowed out to create space for relatives of the men having served or serving in the same department.

Accommodated in RBA category and appointed as Library Bearer on 17-02-2012, Shabir Ahmad Tantray stands engaged on 06-05-2002, eight years after Shameema and six years after Gulshan. While as Shameema and Gulshan gave their sweat and blood to keep their colleges---Govt Degree College Bemina and Government College for Women M A Road---running in extreme hostile conditions, Shabir did the service of cooking meals at the house of his Principal Zeenat Ara in Rajbagh. Even before the selection list was published in local newspapers on 19-02-2012, he knew it for sure---and had shared with his colleagues---that he stood selected.

Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh S/o Mohammad Shaban Sheikh of Sarai Payeen, Srinagar, has retired from service after serving as a clerk in Department of Higher Education for over three decades. During his posting at Government Degree College Bemina, Sheikh managed to engage his sister Shaheena (Matriculate) D/o Mohammad Shaban Sheikh on the College Local Fund on 01-06-1994. In the list published on 19-02-2012, she stands appointed as Orderly at Serial No: 4.

Later, when Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh was functioning as Head Assistant at Government College for Women Nawakadal in 2000, he managed to engage his second sister, Sabina Jabeen, on the College Local Fund on 01-12-2000. In the list published on 19-02-2012, she too stands appointed as Library Bearer at Serial No: 33.

Bilal Ahmad of Lalbazar is working as head assistant in Department of Higher Education at Civil Secretariat. In early 1990s, he got his sister-in-law No:1, namely Kousar Jan, appointed as Laboratory Assistant in Government Degree College Baramulla.

Later, on 01-05-2001, Bilal Ahmad managed to engage his sister-in-law No:2, namely Shubeena Tabasum, engaged on College Local Fund at Government College for Women M A Road Srinagar. In the list published on 19-02-2012, she stands appointed as Library Bearer at Serial No: 7. According to the college staff, she had revealed to her colleagues about her selection and had relinquished her charge in December 2011 when the final appointment list was being finalized.

Later, Bilal Ahmad managed to get his sister-in-law No:3, namely Rifat Zargar, engaged on College Local Fund at Government Degree College Bemina. She figured at Serial No: 98 in the seniority list. According to well placed sources in Department of Higher Education at Civil Secretariat, she too was placed in the final selection list but was later removed with the assurance that she would be absorbed in the next selection. Her name was dropped at the eleventh hour to create a slot for another favourite.

“Since I failed to accommodate my dutiful orderly Munish despite my best efforts, I am not ready to accept that any favouritism or nepotism has taken place in the selection”, Commissioner-Secretary of Higher Education Department, Tanvir Jehan, maintained. When, specific examples of irregularity were pointed out to her, she said that the list had been published in newspaper with an announcement in its last paragraph complaints and grievances if any should be submitted to her within 15 days. Again, it was pointed out to her by this newspaper that such an “announcement” was nowhere there. In fact, the candidates selected have been asked to join regular service within 21 days.

Both, Tanvir Jehan, as well as incharge Director of Colleges, Muqbil Chisti, who has supervised entire exercise of the recruitment of LFEs, told Early Times that they would entertain complaints and grievances in the next 15 days, remove all irregularities and accommodate the victims. They asserted that anybody found involved in fudging the selection and practicing nepotism, favouritism or other unfair means, would be given exemplary punishment.


After School Education, Hr Education too in the dock

Massive irregularities surface in Class 4th appointment in Colleges

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 22: Officials associated with absorption of Local Fund Employees (LFEs) in different colleges of the state have committed gross irregularities in making Class 4th appointments. While the officials of Department of Higher Education have yet again taken a lion’s share of the vacancies and managed to absorb their sisters and sisters-in-law in multiples, those serving in the colleges for 15 to 18 years have been fraudulently shown as ‘ineligible’ in terms of qualification and dropped only to create room for relatives and bribe paying clients.

Through a notification published in Greater Kashmir dated February 19th, 2012, Department of Higher Education in Civil Secretariat has declared selection of 130 LFEs for different Class 4th vacancies in different colleges of Kashmir Division. Principals of the degree colleges had engaged as many as 412 persons for continuing job of class IV employees, in absence of regular staff, on temporary basis in the last nearly 18 years. Their remuneration, which was initially fixed at around Rs 1,000 and gradually enhanced to over Rs 3,000 a month, came from Local Fund of these colleges.

Even as many of those engaged happened to be the relatives and domestic helps of professors and principals, quite a number of them were engaged compassionately and made to work much more than the regular Class IV staff. With many of these LFEs crossing age-bar and working hard, pressure mounted on successive governments to absorb them against substantive class IV vacancies. Minister of Higher Education in Omar Abdullah government, Abdul Gani Malik, took keen interest to ensure that the service rules were changed and 40% of the vacancies were reserved for LFEs.

It was decided that the candidates eligible by qualification on their respective dates of engagement would be selected after verification of their academic record, merit and reserved category, if any, irrespective of their age-bar which ranged between 34 and 37 years in the last 18 years. When the final selection list, under Order No: 50/HE of 2012 dated 17-02-2012 was published by Director of Colleges on February 19th, many of the candidates were taken aback.

One of the candidates dropped, namely Shameema, who is now over 50-year-old and had struggled hard for the 40% reservation and absorption of LFEs, attempted suicide at Press Enclave. Engaged in 1994 and now a grandmother of four children, Shameema has been dropped for being “only Middle Pass”. Her argument is that “Middle Pass” used to be the coded qualification for all class IV appointments till 2008. Not only that. The selection list clearly mentions the qualification of five selected LFEs as “Middle Pass”. All the five have been engaged years after Shameema was, and finally appointed.

Gulshan Ara, engaged on 29-10-1996 at Govt College for Women, M A Road, has also been dropped. According to the published gazette of J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE) and the original certificate she waves to mediapersons, Gulshan Ara has passed her Matriculation examination under Roll No: 872479 in November-December session of 1994. Two of the department’s Deputy Directors, who had been deputed by Director of Colleges, for verification of the qualifications claimed by the LFEs, entered into a criminal conspiracy at Govt Amar Singh College recently and eliminated her from all lists for being only “Middle Pass”. They allegedly created space for Gulshan’s far junior colleagues and got them selected and appointed.

This act of criminal conspiracy passed off smoothly inspite of proven honesty and integrity of almost all the higher ups---Minister of Higher Education Abdul Gani Malik, Commissioner-Secretary Hr Education, Tanvir Jehan, and incharge Director of Colleges, Mrs Muqbil Chisti.

In the last leg of the selection process, Director of Colleges sought the latest verification of the LFEs’ particulars vide her No: EC-Coll/GCET/2011 dated 21-12-2011. Principal of Govt College for Women furnished a signed list vide No: WC/44 Dated 10-01-2012, certifying that Gulshan Ara was a Matriculate when she had been engaged on 29-10-1996 as also when the tentative list was formulated on 09-09-2004. Still the staff from Higher Education Department--- as unknown to Gulshan Ara but revealed to Early Times by Director of Colleges Mrs Chisti---mentioned her as “Middle Pass” and got her dropped from the final selection list.

Two of Gulshan’s juniors, namely Mubeena Akhtar and Mehfooza Jan, have been selected and asked by the notification to join the regular service within 21 days. All the three belong to ‘Open’ category and all the three have matriculation as their qualification.

Tentative List, containing 428 names, was made on the cut-off date of 09-09-2004 and published in Greater Kashmir dated 25-12-2009. Under Secretary Dhananter Singh called for objections, if any, within 21 days. With no objection to the three names mentioned hereinabove, Final List was notified by same Under Secretary to Government vide No: EC-Coll/LF/List/2009 dated 04-10-2010 and published in Greater Kashmir dated 12-10-2010.

In both the lists Gulshan Ara figures at Serial No: 81 and her qualification is mentioned as Matric. She is duly shown to have been engaged on 29-10-1996. Principal’s letter No: WC/44 dated 10-01-2012, addressed to Director of Colleges, also mentions her as a Matriculate. But, she does not figure anywhere in the Final selection List published in Greater Kashmir dated 19-02-2012.

In both, Tentative List (GK 25-12-2009) and Final List (GK 12-10-2010), Gulshan’s junior Mubeena Akhtar (Govt Degree College Boys Sopore) figures at Serial No: 83. She is duly mentioned to have been engaged on 02-12-1996 and her qualification is duly shown as Matric. According to GK 19-02-2012, she has been selected and appointed as Gardener (at serial No:07).

Similarly, another of Gulshan’s juniors, namely Mehfooza Jan, figures at Serial No: 97 in both (Tentative and Final) lists. Engaged on 01-07-1996 at M A Road, Mehfooza has been initially mentioned as Class 12th pass but her selection list finally makes it clear that her actual qualification was only Matric. Despite her wrong statement and juniority to Gulshan, she too has been selected and appointed as Lady Attendant in the regular Class IV grade.

Reached over telephone for his comments, Minister of Higher Education told Early Times that he would examine such injustices in detail and not only rectify the errors but also punish the guilty. Commissioner-Secretary Higher Education, Tanvir Jehan, maintained that irregularities, committed by whosoever, would be removed and the genuine candidates appointed after verification of their complaints. She advised the complainants to submit their representation in detail to her in the next 15 days.

Tanvir asserted that “maximum care” had been taken to complete the exercise in a fair and transparent manner but did not rule out sinister interventions by lower level staff. She sought to make it clear that the exercise had been conducted under the supervision of Director of College who would rectify the errors, if any.

Director of Colleges, Mrs Muqbil Chisti said after verification of records that Gulshan Ara had been shown as “Middle Pass” in the Final list and thus dropped. When it was pointed out to her that not only her certificates from BOSE and academic records but both, Tentative as well as Final list, shows her duly a Matriculate after all verifications, she assured that she would inquire into it and take stringent action against the officials involved in committing this fraud. She confirmed that two officials of the rank of deputy Director had conducted the verification process.

[Read tomorrow: How Commissioner Tanvir Jehan’s LFE Orderly was dropped but sisters and sisters-in-law of her subordinate officials appointed in multiples]


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Abdullah Uni’s deputy killed in Sopore

Critically injured soldier airlifted to military hospital

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 21: Lashkar-e-Tayyiba chief Abdullah Uni’s second-in-command and top wanted Pakistani militant, Abu Akash Badar, has been killed in a fierce gunbattle in Sopore today even as a critically wounded soldier was evacuated and airlifted to a military hospital in Srinagar.

Authoritative sources disclosed to Early Times that Special Operations Group (SOG) of Srinagar District Police received a tip off over telephone in the forenoon today about the presence of a couple of Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba at the residential house of a carpenter, namely Mushtaq Ahmad Najar, close to Sopore-Kupwara bypass in Noorbagh locality of Sopore. Alerted immediately, Sopore Police, in coordination with a unit of Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn, launched a cordon-and-search operation in the locality at 1400 hours.


Precedences galore but law about ‘Ministers without oath’ missing

Fearing freeze on discretionary grants and use of flags, Govt decides to question SAC’s authority

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 20: In apprehension of an interim order, freezing the use of state flags and operation of ‘discretionary grants’ by political leaders enjoying the status of a Minister or Minister of State, on March 5th, Government is disputing State Accountability Commission’s authority of impleading Chief Minister and other state functionaries suo moto. Government’s legal luminaries have discovered precedences in previous regimes, as also in the union government, but a substantive law that governs ‘Ministers without oath’ and shall be pivotal in SAC’s proceedings about the CM’s advisors and heads of various statutory boards, is still missing.

Identical stories in media in defence of Omar Abdullah government’s action of grating the status and powers of Ministers to some legislators and non-legislators are being widely interpreted as indications of nervousness in Civil Secretariat. But, highly placed bureaucratic sources revealed to Early Times that Department of Law, in consultation with Advocate General, has decided to straightaway challenge SAC’s authority of impleading CM and other functionaries in a “third party complaint”. It has been observed by the government’s legal pundits that SAC has proceeded suo moto and issued summons even when Chief Minister and his advisors were not respondents and antecedents of the complainant were yet to be ascertained.

“Even SAC has not yet seen a complainant of this name and address. Inquiry and proceedings should have started after verification of the identity of the complainant”, said a government advocate.  

Officials associated with SAC insisted that the commission was inherently competent to take suo moto cognizance of complaints on the basis of the nature of a complaint and issue summons to any public authority including Chief Minister and Ministers under section 9 of the Act. “In certain specific complaints, we essentially need presence or representation of a complainant. But, when serious complaints of general nature surface during investigation or proceedings, Commission can call any public authority, including members of the council of ministers and head of the government, for an explanation”, one of the SAC functionaries asserted.

An independent legal practitioner and advocate at J&K High Court pointed out that section 9 was actually part of the SAC Regulations of 2005, neither sanctioned by legislation nor influencing spirit of the primary law--- J&K Accountability Commission Act of 2002. According to him, it was well possible that not satisfied with the government’s reply, SAC could resort to its authority under section 16 and recommend to Governor by way of an interim order calling for freeze on use of ‘discretionary grants’ and the state and the national flag and emblem by the respondents in dispute.

The respondents include one of Chief Minister’s Advisors, enjoying the status and powers of a Cabinet Minister, another Advisor, enjoying the status of a Minister of state, one Chairperson of a statutory board, enjoying the status of a Cabinet Minister, and five other Chairpersons/ Vice Chairpersons of statutory bodies holding the status of MoS.

Official sources said that a battery of government advocates, headed by Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadiri, besides individual attorneys of respondents would appear before SAC on March 5th and challenge the legality of its summons served on CM and other respondents. According to their averments, only the respondent---Khem Lata Wakhloo, Chairperson of J&K State Social Welfare Advisory Board---was required by law to appear as a party.

Sources in SAC said that the Commission would primarily focus on the fundamental question: Under what authority were the advisors and heads of statutory boards using discretionary grants of Rs 3 Lakh a year without audit like the Ministers on oath? Was an executive authority in Government of Jammu & Kashmir competent by law to grant such financial powers to a public authority without being on oath of office and secrecy?

According to these sources, it was “completely irrelevant” that former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed too had granted similar status and powers to 14 persons, there were similar precedences from the days of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and several persons, including Vice Chairman of Planning Commission in the union Government, were also designated like a Cabinet Minister. “In some cases, such incumbents can be decorated only for Order of Precedence and protocol at an official function or venue. In other cases, such incumbents can be drawing and disbursing money from public exchequer. That all is done under a proper authority under law. SAC will obviously seek and examine text of such a law or statutory sanction, if one exists”, a source in SAC explained. Absence of it, he said, would lead dismissal of such public authorities by Governor on the basis of a recommendation from SAC.

A Professor of law with University of Kashmir said that Government could immediately rush in appeal to J&K High Court and seek an order of relief, staying the operation of SAC’s interim order or recommendation to Governor.

In its initial reply to SAC, that came not before repeated notices to Chief Secretary and a warning of contempt proceedings, Government has provided Order dated 19-08-2010 making it clear that all the respondents in question were making use of status and powers, including operation of discretionary grants, allocated by statute to Ministers and Ministers of State.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Opposition may soon flounder on ‘swimming pool of political appointments’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 18: It is for Jammu & Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) to bring home to Minister of Law Ali Mohammad Sagar that ‘Customary Law’ is least pertinent to making political appointments. Mr Sagar deserved credit to remember that the process of political appointments, including induction of ‘Advisors’ and heads of public sector undertakings and boards has been in vogue since the days of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. SAC may, on its turn, tell Minister and Secretary of Law that two wrongs don’t make a right and proceed further on the judicial and constitutional scrutiny of the political appointments in question---those made by current Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

However, the politicians stoking fire on ‘ministerial status’ of the off-oath coalition leaders would fade out soon. Like in the unfair means scandal of J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE), Independent MLA Engineer Rashid could stand out as the only mainstream politician questioning Omar Abdullah government’s political appointments in the forthcoming session of Legislature. He singularly has an advantage to his credit: He is fresh in mainstream politics and has neither a party nor MLAs in his organisation.

Significantly, even the firebrand brigade of J&K’s politicians---including Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of CPI (M) and Harsh Dev Singh of National Panthers Party---has been a mute spectator to the academic scandal involving Minister of Education Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti’s statement took the sting out when she asserted in her first reaction that Peerzada’s dismissal from Cabinet would not eradicate corruption. She would have perhaps served an ultimatum and threatened to freeze the government as well as the Budget session of Assembly had a National Conference Minister fallen in the whirlpool.

Legislators like Tarigami have the constraints of developing their constituencies with whatever comes their way from NC, Congress or PDP. Since they need more and more schools for their voters and the same flow down from the Ministry of Education in brazen contempt of the norms set by Department of Planning and Development, they can not be expected to play an Anna Hazare in the state. Others like Harsh Dev have been themselves identically at the helm of affairs in Education. Mushroom growth of schools in his constituency came into question as recently as the last Budget session of Assembly. Official statistics indicate that in making transfers and sanctioning schools, Peerzada has been more benevolent on NC’s, PDP’s, BJP’s and NPP’s legislators than on his poor colleagues in Congress.

In the following disclosure of ‘irregularity’ in the political appointments of Omar Abdullah government, the Opposition, notwithstanding its negative reactions, has been equally lukewarm. That again is not without reason. Interestingly, nobody has hitherto told Sagar that backdoor appointments of public servants too used to be in practice from Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s days to Dr Farooq Abdullah’s regime in 1996-2002.

Chief Ministers, as Ministers incharge of General Administration Department, would pick up favourites for non-gazeted as well as gazetted posts. They would even shower this largesse on the sons-in-law of their bodyguards. Scores of doctors and engineers came through this backdoor of “discretionary quota (DQ)”. Many of the successive governments’ favourites got plots and licences under DQ. But, Supreme Court declared it completely void when it came under judicial scrutiny.

One of such beneficiaries had to return to his home even after he had performed well and risen to the rank of Superintendent of Police. So, the example of Tariq Abdullah’s direct appointment as MD of JKTDC in 1976 can not be quoted to justify such an appointment in 2012. This necessarily is not to decree that the political appointments in question are patently illegal and unjustified. That is for SAC to adjudicate.

Why Engineer Rashid could end up as an exception, is not perhaps difficult to understand. In the previous PDP-Congress coalition, Messers Sagar and Abdul Rahim Rather had left no stone unturned to establish that appointment of Chairmen and Vice Chairmen for different Boards, Corporations and PSUs was flagrant violation of the law on office of profit. The UPA-I at the centre had already solved the problem by declaring a number of positions as outside the ambit of ‘office of profit’. This was done to rescue a number of Congress incumbents, though the AICC and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, herself resigned and sought fresh mandate to become a Member of Parliament. That formula was mutatis mutandis invoked to protect political appointees on the PDP-Congress alliance from disqualification.

Not only that. Chief Minister Mufti created history by inducting Chairman of J&K Bank, Haseeb Drabu, as ‘Economic Advisor’ to his government and decorating him with the status of ‘Minister of State’. First time in history, even a banker was seen traveling in a car fitted with the State and the National flags. Mufti’s successor Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, inducted senior Congress leader and non-legislator Janak Raj Gupta as his ‘Political Advisor’. He also decorated an additional advocate general and longtime freelance politician, Manzoor Ganai, as another ‘Political Advisor’. Even in absence of any legal and constitutional sanction, both enjoyed the status, protocol and perks of a Minister/MoS.

In recent times, none other than Dr Farooq Abdullah introduced the system of inducting outsiders as Advisors and grating some of them status of a Minister without oath. In 1996-2002, Dr Abdullah inducted two of NC’s MLAs, including MLA of Dooru Ghulam Hassan Bhat, as Parliamentary Secretary. They held portfolios like Deputy Ministers but were not sworn-in for office and secrecy by Governor. He also picked up journalist O N Kaul as “Media Advisor to Government”. Kaul, however, moved out soon.

Towards the end of his regime, Dr Abdullah appointed writer Shafi Shaida as “Polical Advisor to Chief Minister” and Doordarshan official Farooq Nazki as “Media Advisor to Government”. In 1987-90, Farooq had appointed journalist Tahir Muztar as CM’s Media Advisor. However, none of them was conferred upon the status of Minister or MoS.

Still, Dr Abdullah inducted two of NC’s politicians, including one from minority Christian community in Jammu, as Advisors and granted them both status of MoS in his 1996-2002 regime. Then NC’s Chief Whip in Assembly, Mubarak Gul was also declared as equal to a Minister in terms of protocol. In J&K and several other states, Leader of Opposition (belonging to a party that has one-fourth of strength of House as its members) does by statute enjoy the status and protocol of a Cabinet Minister.

Chairpersons, as also Vice Chairpersons, of several boards, corporations and PSUs have been enjoying the status of Minister or MoS since 1980s. Those having enjoyed this status include bureaucrat-turned-politician, Ghulam Nabi Naik, and senior politician, Abdul Aziz Zargar. Both functioned as Chairmen of J&K Khadi and Village Industry Board (KVIB). Not less than 30 of such persons are estimated to have enjoyed status of Minister or MoS in J&K in the last 25 years. However, it is for the first time that someone has disputed this process and now challenged it in SAC, bringing the Omar Abdullah government in the dock. Yet again, CM has much at stake as it is second time in less than a year that he has been dragged to a commission to explain his position. The book of statute does not seem to be on his side. Yet, he has an advantage that most of the parties have been divers of the same swimming pool. Will that help justify things in SAC, remains to be seen.


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.