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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sarkar ‘nervous’ as Geelani brings all Sarkari Maulvis under his umbrella

Hurriyat (G) chief views sectarian divide is a ‘world conspiracy against Islam’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 25: National Conference, Congress or their governments in the state and the Centre had never publicly identified themselves with the young cleric Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami’s Karvan-e-Islam (the caravan of Islam). This Bareilvi preacher from Ganderbal has shot into prominence with his sizeable Meelaad rallies and sermons, demonstrating reverence in Kashmir’s saints and shrines. On January 15th in 2007, Hami’s lieutenant, Maulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi, survived a grenade attack at Tahab village in Pulwama when five of his followers died and 60 sustained injuries.

Years later, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inducted Hami as a member of the Muslim Wakaf body in Kashmir. Last year, the Bareilvi’s organized a major show of strength with apparent facilitation of the Government. Earlier this month, Hami silently quit Omar-led Wakf body but not for devoting more time to his green-turbaned movement of the revival of faith in Valley’s shrines. Contrary to common expectations, both, Hami as well as Dawoodi, attended a conclave of clerics at Geelani’s residence and under his stewardship. With their attendance and statements, both lent credence to Geelani’s radical ideology of separating J&K from India and making it part of the theocratic Pakistan which he euphemistically calls ‘Azadi Bara-e-Islam’ (freedom for the religion of Islam).

Hami, Dawoodi and the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Bashiruddin, are not the only ones who have dramatically become Geelani’s fiendlies in the changing scenario. Geelani’s arch rival in the separatist camp, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has also been isolated to an extent. Of late, he has been religiously deputing his aide, Sayeed-ur-Rehman Shamas, as representative of Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul-Islam to attend meetings of the new formation at Geelani’s house. Other participants, according to sources, include a fairly thick number of the known pro-establishment clerics. In his hard-hitting statements, Geelani had been denigrating them as Sarkari Maulvis (clergymen sold out to the Government). He is no more using the phrase.

For obvious reasons, Geelani’s success in bringing the entire clergy under his umbrella is widely being interpreted as the establishment’s setback---from Srinagar to Delhi. Significantly, most of the clerics, belonging to divergent schools of thought, have buried the hatchet and strengthened Geelani while, more significantly, burying the ‘pro-Delhi’ phrases of Kashmiriyat, Aetiqaad (faith in saints and shrines), pluralism and the Valley’s secular ethos.

This has not occurred overnight. As a particular school of thought, extolling puritanical attributes of Islam, began spreading its tentacles from two revered shrines of Batmaloo and Sarai Bala, two incidents of firing happened in the two neighbourhoods. Killing didn’t appear to be the motive. Pir Jalal-ud-din of Batmaloo was left wounded in the first shootout. PSO of a senior government official, emerging as proponent of the pro-saint pro-shrine form of the religion, was targeted in the second firing. Within the next few days, the official was truncated by the Omar Abdullah government with his transfer from a key department. Unconfirmed reports insist that he too attempted to win Geelani’s mercy when some radical outfits got him in the eye of a storm.

Knowledgeable sources, nevertheless, insist that Geelani used neither the “fear of gun” nor money to dent what he calls ‘the Government’s sinister plan of dividing the Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian divergence’. Even in NC and Congress, a many activists believe that Geelani was yielding minimum influence after failure of the 2010 street agitation and he was not currently in a position to make his writ run in the changing Srinagar. Analysts here assert that recent exposure of several Maulvis and Imams as being the beneficiaries of New Delhi’s funding to Madrasas was craftily interpreted by pro-radical media as an act of “treason to the freedom struggle”. Perceiving the threat of total elimination, they resorted to the prudence of submission before Geelani.

At his news conference today, Geelani claimed that Government had got “unnerved” over his success of bringing all clerics under one fold. He asserted that most of them had attended his initial conclave on May 5th. “It had been decided to unitedly fail and fight all of the Government’s sinister plots to divide the Muslims on sectarian grounds. Next meeting had been scheduled on May 24th. Though all of the invitees had left their places and were on way to Hyderpora, Police put up barriers and sent them threats by telephone to stop them from attending the meeting”, Geelani alleged. He asserted that dividing Muslims all over the world was a “world conspiracy” in which USA, Israel and India were the key characters.

According to Geelani, red herrings were being used to make the Kashmiris forget their sacrifices for the “freedom struggle”. Government agencies, he alleged, had imposed peace in Kashmir with the barrel of the gun. He claimed that neither development nor employment to the youth could make the Kashmiris forget and abandon their “struggle for freedom”.

Geelani significantly ignored reference to contents of the Kashmir interlocutors’ report, made public in New Delhi yesterday. However, when a journalist pressed for reaction, Geelani asserted that the report had only vindicated Hurriyat Geelani’s stand. Geelani and his loyalists had boycotted the interlocutors--- Dileep Padgoankar, Radha Kumar and M A Ansari---and dismissed the UPA Government’s initiative as “merely India’s post-2010 move to mislead the Kashmiris and the entire world over the unreal peace in Kashmir”.

In a significant development, Geelani revealed that he had post-poned the May 29th shutdown to May 30th in response to requests from Kashmiri Pandits, who wished that the annual Khirbhawani festival on May 29th be not disturbed.


Police department’s Haji Yousuf, PHC officials caught red-handed

Protected person had converted EP quarter into gambling centre; 6 VIPs arrested, 3 vehicles seized

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, May 25: In an unusual raid on a Government quarter in Batmaloo, Police have caught six highly influential persons red-handed while gambling. Stake money worth over Rs 74,000, packs of playing cards and three vehicles have been seized from them.

Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that on Thursday, a Police party from Police Station Batmaloo conducted a raid on an Evacuee’s Property, allotted by Custodian Kashmir to an influential Shahtoosh trader, Muzaffar Ahmad Handoo, near General Bus Stand in Batmaloo. Handoo, alongwith his armed guard, allotted to him by Police Department, was found gambling with four others at the premises.

All the six alleged gamblers were arrested and their stake money, besides a Scorpio vehicle, a Santro and an i20 A-Star, were seized from them. After recording statements and sustained questioning of the detainees, case FIR No: 51 of 2012 under sections 3, 4 and 5 of Public Gambling Act, dated 24-05-2012, was registered against them.

The investigation was completed within 24 hours and the accused were produced, alongwith challan, in the court of law today. Sources said that Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar granted bail to the accused and transferred the case for trial to court of Sub Registrar Srinagar today. CJM directed that challan of the case be produced before the court of Sub Registrar Srinagar on May 26th.

Sources said that the raid was conducted after complaints poured in repeatedly that the officially allotted EP house was being misused by the allottee for gambling. Warrants were obtained for search and arrests and thereafter Police carried out the operation.

Those arrested in the raid included Muzaffar Handoo of Soura (presently Padshahi Bagh), a Pashmina and Shahtoos trader known for his two-decade-long intimate relations with top and middle rung officers of J&K Police, including a number of retired and serving DGPs, additional DGPs, IGPs, DIGs, SSPs and SPs. Sources revealed that Handoo had been enlisted as a protected person and allotted a PSO in 1996 from Police Department. His SPO, namely Constable Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Sangham Iddgah, was also arrested on spot. With free access to offices of almost all senior Police officers, including sensitive security installations like Srinagar Airport, Handoo was known for managing transfers and appointments besides allotment of contracts and supply orders in J&K Police and Police Housing Corporation. With his arrest, two of his cellphones and Vehicle:  JK 01 M 7665 [Silver i20 Astar] have been seized.

Sources identified the other detainee as Abdul Qayoom Wani S/o Ghulam Mohammad Wani R/o Chhanapora, who was reportedly owner of a transport company at Fruit Mandi Srinagar. One cellphone and a Santro, bearing No: JK 01-J 8937, has been seized from him.
Another detainee has been identified as Abdul Majeed Lone S/o Ghulam Mohiuddin Lone of Model Town Sopore, presently living at Govt Quarter J-31 Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar. He has identified himself as Procurement Officer of J&K Police Housing Corporation. One cellphone and a Scorpio, bearing registration number JK 01-P 3572, have been seized from him. Sources said he revealed the names of some other officials, including an Executive Engineer, who had also been gambling even during hours of duty.

A contractor working with the corporation, Mohammad Yousuf Khan S/o Ghulam Ahmad Khan of Moninabad Batmaloo has also been arrested on the spot. His cellphone has also been seized.

Yet another detainee has identified himself as M K Bhat S/o Raghunath Bhat R/o Roop Nagar Jammu, presently Bishembar Nagar Srinagar. He disclosed during questioning that he was an official working in office of SE PWD Baramulla. However, Chief Engineer R&B Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad, claimed that no official of his department or SE’s office Baramulla had been arrested.

Sources said that stake money worth Rs 70,400 was also seized from the alleged gamblers on spot.


Friday, May 25, 2012

DFO, 15 others injured in timber mafia attack in Budgam

Mian Altaf: Arms have been denied to FPF since 1996 but now we will equip our guards and detain smugglers under PSA

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

BUDGAM, May 24:  In a bizarre offensive, carried out audaciously in upper Budgam, members of a timber mafia have left 16 Forest officials, including Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Pir Panjal Division, injured in Arizal area last evening. While as Minister of Forest, Mian Altaf Ahmad, has immediately ordered a major crackdown on the timber smugglers, Budgam Police, in coordination with officials of Forest Department and Forest Protection Force (FPF), have booked 23 of the assailants in a criminal matter and launched manhunt to arrest the most wanted of the timber smugglers and assailants.

Authoritative sources told Early Times that DFO of Budgam-based PP Division, Syed Humayun Qadiri, laid an ambush near Damdam in Sutaharan forest cover of Arizal-Khaag belt, in Tehsil Beerwah, alongwith a team of his subordinate officials last evening. DFO had received specific information regarding the possible movement of a group of timber smugglers allegedly planning to fell a number of green conifer trees. On sighting a group of nearly 20 smugglers at 1830 hours, the Forest team swooped on them but they managed to escape. Within two hours, when the completely unarmed Forest team was still on the ambush, some 50 smugglers, all carrying ponies and wielding batons and axes, laid a cordon around the DFO and his team and struck on them ferociously.

Even as the Forest officials resisted and they managed to escape, as many as 16 of them suffered fractures and sustained injuries in the murderous attack on them. Some of the missing and injured officials surfaced only in the morning today. Those injured in the attack included DFO Syed Humayun Qadiri, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Altaf Ahmad and two Range Officers. They were evacuated and rushed to Sub District Hospital Khansahab late last night and therefrom referred to SKIMS Medical College Bemina. DFO, who received over a dozen stitches in his head and has broken his right arm, was further referred to SKIMS Soura. However, in the morning, most of the injured officials, including the DFO, reached back to their headquarters in Budgam and they resolved to carry on their fight against the timber mafia ‘decisively’.

Mr Qadiri told this newspaper that the smugglers, about 50 in number, outnumbered and overpowered the Forest team as they were on horses and were all armed with lathis and axes. “It was a narrow escape for all of us as we were completely unarmed”, he added. He asserted that, inspite of the murderous attack, Forest officials were determined to take on the smugglers and wipe them out completely from Sukhnag Range (Beerwah) and other areas of upper Budgam.

Forest Minister Mian Altaf told Early Times that denial of arms to officials of Forest Department and FPF guards was the main problem as it was because of this advantage that timber smugglers had been felling trees and carrying out transportation of the timber with confidence in certain areas. “But, after last night’s attack, we are determined to acquire the weapons this time and launch a decisive battle against the timber smugglers”, he said. Mian revealed that today itself he spoke to Police and other agencies, who had prevented supply of arms to FPF since its inception in December 1996, and it had been made unambiguously clear to them that no dilly-dallying and creation of hindrances would be tolerated anymore.

Mian disclosed that on his express orders, Commissioner- Secretary Forest, Umang Narula, today took out the buried old file of acquisition of arms for FPF. He said that he would personally pursue the matter with all quarters so as to ensure that arms, ammunition and other necessary infrastructure were provided to FPF without further delay.

“I was busy with CM’s visit in Ganderbal when I was told about the attack of smugglers. I immediately deputed entire top brass of my departments to Budgam for launching a major crackdown and getting all the assailants and top wanted smugglers of upper Budgam arrested as soon as possible”, Mian Altaf revealed. He said that today itself, on his orders, three fresh camps of FPF were being set up in Sukhnag Range. “They have been asked to stay under tents till we create all necessary facilities”, he added. He asserted that all the accused would be got arrested and booked under PSA and other criminal matters.

SP Budgam, Uttam Chand, confirmed that FIR No: 32 of 2012 under sections 382, 379, 353, 148, 336 RPC and Forest Act 6 had been registered at Police Station Khaag and as many as 23 timber smugglers of Sutaharan and adjoining villages had been booked. He said that section 307 RPC (attempt to murder) was being invoked after some arrests and recording of statements. SP Budgam said that he had a detailed meeting with DC Budgam and senior Forest and FPF officials today and Police, in coordination with the two departments, had immediately launched manhunt to apprehend all the 23 accused.

Reports from upper Budgam this evening said that entire menfolk from Sutaharan and other villages has deserted their houses and only women and children were present in three villages. Reports said that FPF carried out a flag march through the villages but did not engaged into any confrontation with the women and others not involved in yesterday’s attack and timber smuggling.

Earlier today, on the Forest Minister’s instructions, senior Forest officials made a beeline to Budgam to express solidarity with the injured DFO and other officials as also to coordinate with Police and other agencies before launching a major combing operation in upper Budgam. Those who saw the injured officials at the OB Post and attended an extensive meeting included DC Budgam, Khursheed Shah, SP Budgam, Uttam Chand, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Vinod Ranjan, Director FPF, Shafeeq Ahmad, alongwith Joint Director FPF Kashmir, Mian Javed Hussain, CCF Kashmir, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, CF Srinagar, Nisar Ahmad Darzi, as also some other CFs and DFOs. Recently transferred DFO of PP Division and President of Forest Officers Association, Ghulam Hassan Bhat also paid a brief visit.

76 Forest officials killed since 1990
In hundreds of attack on the unarmed employees, timber smugglers and militants have killed as many as 76 Forest officials in Kashmir valley since outbreak of armed insurgency in 1989-90. Senior most official, who was kidnapped and gunned down by suspected militants while on tour of Brangi Project in Kokernag in 1990, was Conservator of South Kashmir, Pervez Qadiri. Now JD FPF Kashmir, Mian Javed Hussain, had managed to escape in that incident.

Suspected militants later shot dead ACF Mohammad Ashraf Mir while he was posted as Divisional Manager of J&K State Forest Corporation in 1994. Two more Range Officers were killed, one each in Kupwara and Bijbehara. The RO gunned down in Bijbehara belonged to Kashmiri Pandit community.

In 1999, militants killed Range Officer of Wildlife Protection Department, Ghulam Ahmad Ridshi, allegedly on account of his close association with then ruling National Conference. He was eliminated in an ambush in Tral area, though he lived as a protected person for several years in a CRPF-guarded hotel on Boulevard in Srinagar.

In Tral area again, unidentified persons burned to death a local Forester namely Ghulam Ahmad Shah. In 1997, smugglers hacked to death a Forest guard of PP Division near his residential village of Sonpah, Beerwah, in Budgam district.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In 3 years and 5 months, Govt acquired 3 Kanals and 5 Marlas land for Budgam hospital

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 22: In one of his recent visits to the state, union Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, complained publicly that not a stone had moved since he quit as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in July 2008. This may not be true with reference of several sectors but Health and Medical Education has evidently become a casualty during the National Conference-led coalition government.

On sustained persuasion of a journalist, residents of Rishipora and Chowdhary Bagh offered community grazing land (kahcharai) measuring 78 Kanals to Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government for the construction of a hospital proposed to be raised in Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode in the year 2007-08. Government had failed to find free land for raising of the proposed hospital, primarily for the convenience of the people in Budgam and Srinagar districts besides thousands of people getting associated with Northern Railways and resultant businesses around Railway Station Budgam

On then Chief Minister’s direction, then Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, then Divisional Commissioner, Mehbooba Iqbal, then Deputy Commissioner of Budgam, Farooq Reenzu, and then Chief Medical Officer Budgam, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Kichloo, took possession of the site at Rishipora, in close vicinity of Railway Station Budgam. The farmers, who had occupied the land decades ago, offered to fell hundreds of their willows and other trees that had come up on the land. They also offered to clear out 30 Kanals of land which had been occupied by some farmers who had been cultivating rice on the same.

The high level official team, posted a sign board, notifying that it was the site for a hospital. Departments of Health and Revenue immediately started the process of demarcation of land besides acquisition of three-and-a-half Kanals of private land for the purpose of approach to the site from Srinagar-Bemina-Budgam Road.

However, the entire process came to a grinding hall when Mr Azad quit as Chief Minister and Governor became the head of the government in July 2008. Public representation poured in to Mr Omar Abdullah after he was sworn-in as Chief Minister, imploring him to get the Detailed Project Report (completed) for the purpose of according administrative approval and technical sanction to the hospital. On his instructions, his aide Asgar H Khan spoke to the new DC Budgam, Mohammad Rafi, and Directors of Health Services Kashmir, asking them to immediately complete the process and translate the Chief Minister’s orders into action without delay.

As things failed to move, representations continued to pour in from the people and Chief Minister’s Secretariat kept repeating the same directions to the authorities for over three years. It was finally earlier this year that CMO Budgam succeeded in acquiring 3 Kanals, 5 Marlas and 8 Sirai of the private land for the approach road. With that, the process has got stalled again, for reasons known to nobody, either in the administration or in the locality.

Notwithstanding SOSs from CMO Budgam, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir is unmoved and continuously indifferent to the public demand of raising a hospital at the site given by the residents into the possession of the state government. While noticing non-seriousness from the Government, some of the neighbouring farmers have again started efforts to encroach upon the land reserved for the hospital.

Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah did not address the public demand during his recent visit to Budgam on May 8th, CMO Budgam has dashed yet another letter to DHS Kashmir, requesting him to save the site by way of at least constructing a boundary wall. Vide No: CMOB/Plg/Land-Acq/Reshipora/2078-80 dated 12-05-2012, CMO Budgam has written to DHS Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman: “The Kahcharai land, measuring 78.6 Kanals has been identified for construction of Hospital at Reshipora, and the private land, measuring 3 Kanals, 5 Marlas, 8 Sirai has been acquired for the construction of approach road leading to Reshipora Hospital. There is apprehension of encroachment to identified Kahcharai land. It is, as such, requested that the walling may kindly be constructed around the Kahcharai land in question”.

Directorate of Health Services has conveniently not responded to the CMO’s communication. “This land will be fully encroached by some local farmers, if not immediately covered with boundary wall”, officials of Health Department in Budgam said.

While the hospital site at Reshipora is facing the threat of encroachment, reports insist that neighbouring farmers near SKIMS Medical College and Hajj House in Bemina have already encroached upon and grabbed the land of 70 Kanals that had been acquired by the Azad Government for raising of a pediatric hospital in 2006-07. None other than Azad revealed in his recent visit to Srinagar that he had acquired 100 Kanals of the land out of which 30 Kanals was used for raising of Hajj House and remaining 70 Kanals was still unutilized. He disclosed that after taking over as union Health Minister, he had also provided a sum of Rs 60 Cr in relaxation of the rural-specific NRHM for construction of two pediatric hospitals, one each in Srinagar and Jammu. According to him, state government had failed to start construction in the last over three years.

Not only that. The multi-Crore new Sub District Hospital at Sopore, constructed during Azad’s government, has failed to become functional for want of staff and infrastructure. According to residents, most of the rooms of the new hospital are still locked and the facility has not been made functional.

Reports from Handwara said that the newly constructed Sub District Hospital has failed to bring any relief as the total numbers of doctors posted there was just two. Due to these vacancies and incompletions, hundreds of patients, particularly women and children, are referred to the maternity and pediatric hospitals situated in the capital city. Most of the District Hospitals and SDHs have been functioning just as the collection and referral counters.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Azad may return to J&K to fulfill AICC’s 2014-2020 ambition

Cong collegium authorizes Sonia Gandhi to appoint new JKPCC chief, office-bearers

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 19: Eying on the hot seat of power in Jammu and Kashmir for 2014-2020, Sonia Gandhi and her All India Congress Committee (AICC) have almost decided to send Ghulam Nabi Azad back to the politically instable northern state in near future. Even as the final decision would be taken by 10 Janpath later this month or early next month, the collegium of Pradesh Congress Committee members today authorized Mrs Gandhi for appointing the new JKPCC President, Vice President and other office-bearers in total restructuring of the state unit.

Years after holding a major rally at Sher-e-Kashmir Park, on May 21st 2006, and Sonia Gandhi’s historic address to over 10,000 party workers, including thousands of students and Anganwari Workers at SKICC lawns, JKPCC today organized a rare show of unity at SKICC. Although Mrs Gandhi was not in attendance, almost all of the AICC’s stalwarts related to J&K attended the day-long conclave.

Significantly, members of both the rival factions---one headed by JKPCC President Prof Saif-ud-din Soz and another by union Health Minister and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad---jointly participated in the meeting, first time in the last five years of infighting. While as Prof Soz was already camping in Srinagar and AICC’s General Secretary incharge J&K, Mohan Prakash, and General Secretary incharge party Elections, Janardhan Dviwedi, had reached here yesterday. Mr Azad by a forenoon flight from New Delhi today.

Deliberations began at 11.30 a.m in a closed-door hall which was kept out-of-bounds for media. Over 20 leaders are said to have addressed the gathering of 342 newly nominated JKPCC members drawn from all three regions of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Sources present in the meeting later said that all Ministers, MLAs, MLCs, Lok Sabha members, Rajya Sabha members and senior leaders attended the conclave.

Highly placed sources in AICC revealed to Early Times that main objective of holding the conference in Srinagar was to end factionalism and authorize Mrs Gandhi to appoint the new President, Vice President, General Secretaries and other office-bearers of JKPCC. With the formality carried out through a political resolution, AICC Chairperson would be making the nominations sometime later this month or early in June.

Sources said that elections had already been conducted in other states and almost all the state units had been restructured through democratic processes but J&K had been left intact, mainly because of “some factionalism” and the AICC top brass’s preoccupation with the Assembly elections in U.P.

Consequently, 48-year-long tradition of making the restructuring by nominations was being repeated in J&K. This is the only state in the country, where party elections on all levels have been held only once when, in the year 1972, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ayub Khan fought a pitched battle for Presidency of JKPCC. Mufti defeated Khan and functioned as the elected President for full term of three years. Later, he too functioned as nominated President for several terms. Previously, Khan too had functioned as a nominated President of JKPCC.

Then a Cabinet Minister in UPA-1, Prof Soz had been appointed as President of JKPCC when Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed was forced to resign, both as Minister incharge School Education in Chief Minister Azad’s coalition government in J&K as well as head of the state unit of his party, in the wake of uproar in Assembly over the Independent MLA Shuaib Lone’s allegation against the Minister in 2007. Lone had charged Pirzada with demanding and accepting bribe, through his spouse, for recognition of an ETT School owned by the MLA’s sister. Soz is continuously holding the state unit headship even after failing to become a Minister in UPA-2.

Without holding elections, AICC in New Delhi has recently nominated over 300 members for the JKPCC collegium. Under the party constitution, one member has to be elected from each block in the state. Loyalists of both the factions have been duly accommodated. They include Soz and Azad, nominated from Baramulla and Bhaderwah respectively, and rebellious Abdul Gani Vakil, nominated from Rafiabad Sopore. AICC General Secretary incharge J&K got the list of nominee members approved by Mrs Gandhi earlier this month.

According to the party constitution, elections have to be conducted for all the top office-bearers, including President. However, the practice of constituting the JKPCC collegium by nominations, and subsequently authorizing the AICC President to appoint JKPCC President and other office-bearers, is being repeated yet again in J&K.

Sources revealed that the deliberations commenced when two resolutions were moved for consideration and passage. Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, moved the main political resolution whereby AICC President was to be authorized to appoint new office-bearers and constitute the Executive Committees. It was unanimously passed after a number of senior and middle ranking Congress leaders spoke on it in detail.

Another resolution was moved by Mr Azad. It appreciated the heavy peoples participation in last year’s Panchayat elections and hailed the coalition government. It however stressed on implementing amendments to articles 73 and 74 of the Constitution of India so as to fully empower Panchs and Sarpanchs. It called upon the state government to hold the elections for constitution of Block Development Councils and District Development Councils without more delay. This resolution was also unanimously passed after a great deal of deliberations on it.

If well-placed sources in AICC are to be believed, Congress has almost decided to send Mr Azad back to Srinagar and Jammu for preparing ground for his party’s “historic victory” in the forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections of 2014. According to these sources, there was a strong possibility that Azad would retain his berth in the union Cabinet while simultaneously functioning as JKPCC chief. However, Prof Soz’s replacement at this stage and his rehabilitation at some other position in the party or government was still under consideration.

According to these sources, both the elections in J&K in 2014 would be contested without any pre-polling seat adjustment with other parties, a senior leader of the party said. According to him, neither the AICC and UPA allies nor the bureaucracy was satisfied with the way National Conference-led government had conducted politics and carried out governance in the last four years.

“It has been noticed with immense disappointment that corruption and maladministration was spiraling, development was running with snail’s pace despite huge Central funding which was either being plundered with impunity or had remained unutilized to a large extent”, said the Congress leader. On the other hand, according to him, the NC leadership had neither neutralized the separatist politics nor promoted nationalism and patriotism in Kashmir despite drastic improvement in situation and mass rejection of the separatist leadership after September 2010.

“Be it shake up in GB Pant hospital or transfers of officers, Hurriyat leaders are calling the shots in every matter despite losing their base remarkably in the last 20 months”, observed another Congress leader. According to him, Congress was under tremendous pressure from its cadres to task Mr Azad once again for creating a “developmental constituency” and taking dividends of peace to a logical conclusion.

He said that the party could duly accommodate Mr Soz as a Governor or Ambassador to any country in case AICC chief took the final decision of sending Mr Azad back to J&K. He said that, in the wake of complete dismemberment of BJP, Congress had all the prospects of sweeping the polls in 37-segment Jammu province and Ladakh and also bagging 4 to 8 seats in Kashmir, thus emerging as the single largest party in the next Assembly elections. He asserted that the next Chief Minister would be essentially from the single largest party and Congress would keep its doors open for its allies---be that NC or PDP---to form the government for 2014-2020.