Total Pageviews

Friday, September 28, 2012

On World Tourism Day, Govt shuts tourism for Pranab

Separatists freeze Valley; Govt freezes Dal Lake, Mughal Gardens

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 27: Frequent Kashmir visitor, Pranab Mukherjee enjoys the distinction of being Congress party’s chief political strategist in Manmohan Singh-led UPA-I and UPA-II. He played a key role in forging an unnatural post-election alliance between the unionist Congress and the pseudo separatist People Democratic Party (PDP). That coalition government, first headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of PDP and later by Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress, crumbled under the weight of its own incompatibility of cultures four months short of its term.

Inspite of enough of bad blood between the two, Pranab continued to pat Mufti and his party. In a statement in Jammu, during election campaigning in 2008, he left the door open for PDP for yet another alliance. But, Ajmal Qasab had already played spoilsport when his November 26th Mumbai strikes assumed all the trappings of a political tsunami. Call it jingoism or patriotism, entire India asserted against terror---first time after the attack on Parliament in December 2001---firmly in one voice.

Political outfits, which had remained friendly, sympathetic or soft to militants, became overnight untouchable in New Delhi. It made Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) a logical beneficiary. Congress stalwarts like Pranab and Makhan Lal Fotedar were left with no option but to reconcile to the formation of a new coalition---comprising Congress and NC. Days before the Presidential election earlier this year, Pranab visited Kashmir to garner support of all constituents of the ruling coalition as well as Mufti’s PDP.

But none of his visits as a Congress leader or a Union Cabinet Minister did ever trouble an ordinary Kashmiri. Many of them, in fact, saw in him a “soft politician” like they did previously in BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In contrast, Pranab’s maiden visit to Kashmir as President of India today brought with it some sort of blight. Paradoxically, on the Wold Tourism Day, security agencies and authorities imposed an undeclared curfew in entire Dal Lake area surrounded by Mughal Gardens and other common tourist attractions like Hazratbal and Nageen. An unusually thick security bandobust was in place, disallowing pedestrian and vehicular movement in several areas and presenting the looks of a war zone after years.

As long as President remained busy with the Convocation at Kashmir University campus at Hazratbal, hundreds of Indian and foreign tourists remained confined in their hotels and houseboats on and around the twin lakes. Shikaras were not allowed to venture into floating gardens and straits. Government employees and students failed to reach their offices and schools and businessmen had to be content with watching TV at home. Even otherwise, many of the offices and educational institutions as well as businesses were already frozen under a call of shutdown from many separatist and militant groups.

With a break of few hours, Dal Lake and its surroundings wore yet again looks of an embattled conflict zone when President expressed his will to enjoy a motor launch ride on the waters and the famous Mughal Garden, Nishat. With columns of Police and paramilitary forces lined up on all roads, it proved to be the worse spell of undeclared curfew. For more than two hours, vehicular traffic was fully blocked on several entry and exit points.

At Nishat, Dalgate and Hazratbal Zakoora, none of the private or commercial vehicles, including those of journalists and doctors, were allowed towards Boulevard and SKICC. Even the patients without ambulance were stopped on several points and sent back to home. Businesses usually defiant to Hurriyat’s and militants’ shutdown calls were disallowed to operate for “security reasons”. “President’s security is paramount”, argued officials, even those deployed seven to eight Kms away from his itinerary and guesthouse. The shutdown was reminiscent of the early 90s when sunlight and darkness were the only marks of distinction for the day and the night.

At the cost of the Shikarawallah’s and the corn seller’s earnings of the day, President enjoyed the mechanical cruise in the company of Governor Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. His memorable moments were captured by cameras and cellphones. He was later commandeered through the picturesque terraces and lush green lawns of Nishat Bagh, followed like shadows by Governor, Chief Minister and other VIPs. Amid an eerie silence, the aesthetical backgrounds wore deserted looks. These hours yesterday, Nishat bustled with flowing streams of tourists.

Otherwise also, there was no event of celebrating the World Tourism day by the Ministry or Department of Tourism. The only relevant news was that of a meeting of the executives of Ogilvy and Mather with Minister of Tourism, Rigzin Jora, or MoS Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani. What the international advertising brand has promoted of Kashmir tourism is known only to the two Ministers and their subordinate officials. Even a nominal cultural show or tourism awareness event was not organized anywhere in Valley.

In rest of the capital city, and elsewhere in Valley, life remained crippled under the impact of a Hurriyat-sponsored shutdown. Business establishments, shops, government and private offices remained shut and public transport was off the road. While as both factions of Hurriyat and JKLF had called for shutdown on occasion of President Mukherjee’s maiden visit to Kashmir, attendance was thin in government and private offices besides banks, schools, colleges and Universities.

Nevertheless, President’s visit was a success in a many ways. Pranab, like all in the Indian establishment, has a fascination, or perhaps obsession, for the “mosaic”. For his lecture at the intellectual gathering, which had all the Vice Chancellors in attendance, his audience included two eminent personalities from academia. One is a retired Principal of a college and another a serving Professor at University of Kashmir. Both are famous for their secessionist views and lifelong affinity with those championing the cause of ‘Azadi’.

Of late, the lady Principal---unlike the New York returned Professor of Mathematics of the Islamic University (Awantipore) who was more conspicuously present than her VC Dr Trag---has been in the forefront of Kashmir’s “civil society”, lamenting that “occupational India” has been drying up Kashmir’s water and mineral resources and hence needed to be sliced from this country. This respected speaker, however, skipped all the known rhetoric of Kashmir Economic Alliance and restricted her paeans to only the Valley’s “pluralism” and “secular ethos”.


CEO PB promotes Shami Shair as DDG
Influential men in Delhi at work to fail CBI probe

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Sep 27: In a severe blow to the credibility of Indian institutions in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prasar Bharti, Jawahar Sircar, has promoted 14 officers of Indian Broadcasting Service, including Deputy Director Programme Shami Shair, as “incharge Deputy Directors General”.

Informed sources in the union capital told Early Times that influential men in politics and bureaucracy have begun all-out efforts to salvage Mrs Shair from the current morass of ignominy witnessed at Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar. “Some influential men have been roped in to protect Mrs Shair. They are at work to stall and fail CBI investigation into the irregularities that have surfaced lately with regard to her programmes and conduct in Srinagar in last several years”, said a source.

According to these sources, Mrs Shair has not yet been brought back to Srinagar but has been assured either her “home posting” or a “prize posting at headquarters”. These men in politics and bureaucracy, who have been shuttling between Delhi and Srinagar and appreciating the removed DDP’s services, have arranged immediately something that could restore her image.

Allegedly under their influence, CEO Prasar Bharti, Jawahar Sircar, has yesterday accorded approval on File No: A-10/132-2012-PPC to Mrs Shair’s elevation to the post of “DDG Current Duty Charge”. Thirteen other DDPs and officers of similar rank also figure in the list. Order No: 75/2012/S.III (processed on File No: A-11019/9/2012-S.III) with Date of 26-9-2012 was issued today by Directorate General of Doordrashan by the same officer who had removed Mrs Shair from Srinagar to DD Headquarters on complaint of having invited a tainted anchor to host DDK Srinagar’s morning show “Good Morning J&K” last week.

Those promoted today as “incharge DDGs” include incumbents DDP of DDK Srinagar, Abdul Qayoom Wadera, and Director DDK Jammu, Shabir Ahmad Buch (Shabir Mujahid).

Others in the list are Shri Krishna Rao, KK Wankhade, T.Chemiyar, JM Rath, Bhagwat Mishra, Vijay Razdan, SK Patnaik, Tara Dutt Sati, RN Mishra, S Mahanthanan and PR Mena.

With today’s order of promotion, prospects of CBI investigation into irregularities in DDK Srinagar have become bleak and credibility of the Central government’s institutions in J&K has suffered further dent.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

SVO getting prosecution sanction in Panchayat Ghar Electrification Scam

Accused Minister is still a Minister; accused Dir RDD is now PDP’s MLC

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 26: General Administration Department (GAD) is likely to grant prosecution sanction against some high profile accused in the infamous Panchayat Ghar Electrification Scam of 2005 in a couple of days. Of the prime accused, then Minister of Rural Development, Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed (who was implicated by State Accountability Commission in a suo motto cognizance but not incorporated by State Vigilance Organisation) is now Minister incharge Public Enterprise and then Director RDD Kashmir, Asgar Ali, has become opposition PDP’s MLC in 2011.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that GAD had recently completed the process of prosecution sanctions against the accused in Rural Development Department Kashmir’s infamous Panchayat Ghar Electrification Scam of 2005. According to these sources, sanction to the prosecution of a large number of then RDD officials would be communicated to SVO in a couple of days.

On several complaints, Vigilance Organisation Kashmir (VOK) had conducted a preliminary verification and subsequently filed case FIR No: 18 0f 2005 and FIR No:19 of 2005 against a number of the public servants, including several BDOs and Treasury officials. According to the complaints, RDD Kashmir officials during Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government had claimed and drawn huge amounts of money on account of electrification of Panchayat Ghars in Anantnag and Baramulla districts. Small amounts ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000 had been actually spent on each Panchayat Ghar but bills claimed around Rs 100,000 for each unit.

First Chairman of J&K State Accountability Commission, Justice (retd) R.P. Sethi had taken the first suo motto cognizance of the same matter on the basis of media reports and held then Minister incharge RDD, Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed, guilty of irregularities. However, Pirzada got the Commission’s orders against him stayed from J&K High Court. In this very sensational case, some people had trapped Justice Sethi’s son and then the state government’s Additional Advocate General Anil Sethi trapped in a sting operation that resulted in latter’s termination of service and his father himself asking Crime Branch to register a criminal case.

In the last seven years, Pirzada has yet again become a Minister in the Cabinet while as the next high profile accused, then Director RDD Kashmir, Asgar Ali, has quit his government service and become PDP’s MLC in Upper House of the state legislature.

The accused officials included Mr Asgar Ali, then Treasury Officer of Baramulla Ali Mohammad Ganai, BDO Rafiabad Ali Mohammad Rahi, BDO Wagora Zaffar Altaf, BDO Tangmarg Shaukat Ahmad Sheikh, BDO Baramulla Bashir Ahmad Hajam alias Hakeem, BDO Singhpura Abdul Rauf Banihali, BDO Sumbal Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, BDOs of Hajjan Shafeeq Hussain Sofi and Ghulam Hassan Rather, BDO Rohama Nazir Ahmed Lone, BDO Sopore Zainageer Hakeem Tanvir Ahmad, BDO Boniyar Ali Mohammad Dar, BDO Kunzar Fayaz Ahmad Baihaqi and BDO Pattan Mir Munawwar Ahmad.

Almost all BDOs of erstwhile Anantnag District (including today’s new district of Bandipore), as also some Treasury Officials were also among the accused.

While as the matter of then Minister incharge RDD and now Minister incharge Public Enterprises, Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed, is still pending and stayed in High Court, sources said that GAD and Law Department were supposed to obtain sanction to Mr Asgar Ali’s prosecution from Chairman of Legislative Council. It was not immediately clear whether Council Secretariat had granted the sanction or not. However, GAD was competent in the matter of issuing prosecution sanction to other serving government officials. Prosecution sanction was not required for non-officials and retired officials. A number of the accused public servants have already retired from service.


SVO files challan in Gulmarg Roshni Scam
Mehboob Iqbal, Mushtaq Chaya and other high profile produced in anti-corruption court

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 26: State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) today produced challan in the infamous Gulmarg Roshni Scam in an anti-corruption court here today. With the exception of two stamp vendors, all the accused beneficiary hoteliers and the serving and retired officials, including retired IAS officer Mehboob Iqbal and owner of a chain of hotels in J&K and Delhi, Mushtaq Chaya, were present in the court.

As exclusively reported in today’s edition of Early Times, VOK today submitted challan in ‘Gulmarg Roshni Scam’ before Special Judge Anti-corruption, Mr Mohal Lal. SSP in SVO, Ali Mohammad Bhat, in his capacity as SHO of Police Station VOK, submitted the challan along with an Inquiry Officer. Among the accused, then DC of Baramulla and now DC Srinagar, Baseer Khan, was not included in today’s challan as sanction to his prosecution has not been received yet from Department of Personnel and Training of Government of India. Earlier this year, Mr Khan has been inducted into IAS. He was not present in the court today. Two stamp vendors, who are included in the challan, were also absent.

Remaining 15 accused persons, who include nine beneficiary hoteliers and six serving and retired officials, were all present in the court when the challan in case FIR No: 8 0f 2009 (VOK) was produced today.

Retired Commissioner-Secretary of Irrigation and PHE, Mehboob Iqbal, who was Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir in 2008, then Additional DC Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Shah, then Tehsildar Tangmarg Garib Das, then Naib Tehsildar Kunzer Gh Mohi-ud-din Shah, then Naib Tehsildar Tangmarg Shabir Ahmad Pir, then Girdawar Tehsil Office Tangmarg Azad Farooq Naikoo and then Patwari Gulmarg Bashir Ahmad Mir, were all present as accused on admission of challan.

Among the nine beneficiary hoteliers, who were present in the court, included Ab Hamid Dar R/o Chandilora Tangmarg, Nazir Ahmad Mir R/o Hariwatnu Tangmarg, Mohammad Ibrahim Khan R/o Wazirbagh Srinagar, Manzoor Ahmad Khan R/o Umar Colony Lal Bazaar Srinagar, Mushtaq Ahmad Ahmad Ganai R/o Nishat, Mushtaq Ahmad Burza R/o Ishber Nishat, Manzoor Ahmad Burza R/o Ishber Nishat, Syed Mussadiq Shah R/o Nishat, Khurshid Ahmad Salmani R/o Bal Garden Srinagar and Mohammad Afzal Khanday R/o Nowgam Bypass.

On the basis of certain complaints and a report in a Jammu-based daily, VOK had carried out preliminary verification and subsequently Filed case FIR No: 8 of 2009. It pertained to illegal allotment of nearly 35 Kanals of Tourism and Forest land at Gulmarg under the state government’s Roshni Act. Quoting text of the Act, the newspaper report had established that it was applicable to the government land given to the beneficiary hoteliers with a “wrong interpretation of the law”.

“During investigation it was revealed that the accused public servants in league with each other entered into a criminal conspiracy with accused beneficiaries and in furtherance of criminal conspiracy with dishonest intention and after manipulating their records and by abusing their official position have illegally conferred the ownership rights on 35 Kanals and 6 Marlas of the prime state land at Gulmarg in favour of 9 accused beneficiaries in contravention to the provisions of the J&K State Land (vesting of ownership rights to the occupants) Act 2001 which was not fount applicable in Gulmarg. Sh Mehboob Iqbal the then Divisional Commissioner was found to have made an extra effort in getting the cases processed and holding the meeting for conferring the benefits to the beneficiaries, under Roshni Act which during investigation was not found applicable in Gulmarg”, SVO said in a press release today.

It added: “The stamp vendors who have also played a vital role by dishonestly and fraudulently providing the accused beneficiaries the stamp paper/ attestation of the same in predate thereby showing their application filed within the cutoff date in Tehsil office Tangmarg for seeking propriety rights on the leased outland at Gulmarg”.

Authoritative sources told Early Times that today’s challan was produced in compliance to the August 28 directions of a Division Bench of J&K High Court, comprising Chief Justice Mr M M Kumar and Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attaar. Hearing a PIL filed by Sheikh Mohammad Shafi S/o former Member of Parliament Sheikh Abdul Rehman and Prof retd S.K. Bhalla, DB had directed SVO to file challan again accused Mehboob Iqbal and others, excluding Baseer Khan, within 15 days. It had listed the matter for next hearing on October 1st.

While Senior Additional Advocate General Gagan Basotra had appeared on behalf of respondent State Government and Assistant Solicitor General of India, Adv K.K. Pangotra on behalf of Government of India, Advocate Sheikh Shakil Ahmad had represented the petitioners.

Delay in submitting the challan has been mainly attributed to another petition in J&K High Court in which the beneficiary hoteliers had argued that allotment of land in their favour was lawful and genuine. They had prayed that FIR against them be quashed. Significantly, their argument was supported and supplemented with a fresh opinion sought from the new Revenue Minister, Raman Bhalla, who declared the allotment as lawful and also directed SVO to close the FIR.

However, SVO contested the matter strenuously and Mr Justice Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain upheld its contention that the Roshni Act was not applicable to the government land at the world famous tourism resort of Gulmarg. Finally the petition was dismissed and SVO proceeded with its investigation. It established the charges and filed the challan today.

SVO has pointed out in the challan that Gulmarg Master Plan for development into a world tourist hub was approved in a Cabinet meeting at Chashma Shahi presided over by then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1975. Later, a fresh Master Plan in 2005 envisaged its further development and subsequently land of 15,000 Kanal was transferred to Tourism Department.

It has been pointed out that none other than Mr Mehboob Iqbal was Special Secretary Tourism when plan of Gulmarg’s development as a tourism resort was underway. Same official later played an adverse role and favoured allotment of land to hoteliers under Roshni Act when he was posted as Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BOSE Academic Officer suspended

Charges of being illegal producer for MHA-DD production established

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 25: Academic officer of the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (BOSE), Ms Naila Neelofar, has been placed under suspension after an inquiry committee established against her charges of working as a ‘private producer’ for a programme series commissioned by union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) through Doordarshan.

Chairman of BOSE, Dr Sheikh Bashir Ahmad, told Early Times that an inquiry panel, headed by Director Academics, Malik Ghulam Hassan, today submitted a preliminary report according to which charges against the Academic Officer (English), Ms Naila Neelofar, have been prima facie established. Assistant Secretary Examinations (Kashmir), Farooq Ahmad Khan, is a member of the committee constituted by Chairman BOSE earlier this year.

On receiving a written complaint from one Tarouq Loulpuri, Chairman BOSE had ordered an inquiry into Ms Naila Neelofar’s conduct. With submission of documentary evidences, the complainant had alleged that in violation of the BOSE service rules, the Academic Officer had been simultaneously running an illegal business with Doordarshan, a Government of India undertaking, which was breach of service rules and a criminal act punishable by termination of service and imprisonment.

According to the documentary evidence available with BOSE, Ms Naila Neelofar had grabbed a Rs 24 Lakh counter-propaganda series of MHA commissioned in the name of her illegal banner, M/S Aabid Films, through DD’s Kashir Channel.

The panel issued charge sheet under No: F(Chrge Sht./Prb)-12 dated 27-6-2012, asking Ms Naila Neelofar to explain her position. In her reply dated July 7th, 2012, she denied all charges against her and claimed that the complainant was actually himself a private producer who was settling scores with her aunt, Mrs Shami Shair, then Director of Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar.

However, in the wake of fresh evidences, tumbling out of DD’s cupboards after Shami Shair’s removal and attachment, it surfaced dramatically that her niece, Ms Naila Neelofar, was the Producer of the MHA-DD production and she had received MHA’s funds worth Rs 10.80 Lakh from DD through RTGS transfer into her banner’s current account in J&K Branch, branch New Theed, Harwan, on 3-4-2012. It was stated to be the advance payment released to Ms Naila Neelofar’s illegal banner, M/S Aabid Films.

Chairman BOSE revealed that the inquiry panel sought the personal appearance of the accused Academic Officer in which she admitted to her criminal act of having operated as a Private Producer (businesswoman) and having received the DD money into her illegally running bank account. Thereupon, he said, the committee complied and submitted the preliminary report to him. “Charges against her have been established prima facie”, Dr Bashir said.

He said on receiving the report, he ordered immediate suspension and attachment of the accused Academic Officer. With Chairman’s approval, Assistant Secretary (Administration) issued Order No: 568-B of 2012 Dated 25-09-2012, placing Ms Naila Neelofar under suspension with immediate effect. Pending further inquiry, she has been attached to the office of Joint Secretary (Administration), Kashmir Division.

BOSE officials said that final inquiry report would determine further disciplinary and legal action that includes termination of the delinquent official’s service under Civil Service Rules and Regulation in vogue in J&K Government and BOSE besides registration of FIR against all the people involved in the fraudulent act of allotting a Government contract to a Government employee.

CBI has already started a thorough investigation into the conduct of the removed DDK Srinagar Director, Shami Shair, who is alleged to have drawn huge amounts of in the name of a number of payees---some being completely fake names and others being her own family members, relatives, neighbours, acquaintances and domestic helps. According to complaints, sizable transactions have taken place in the bank accounts of these payees.

According to well-placed authoritative sources, in addition to scrutinizing contracts and tapes of Mrs Shair’s “in-house” programmes and flagship programmes of Government of India like Bharat Nirman and Krishi Darshan, CBI is investigating the source of the transactions of nearly 20 bank accounts of the DD official’s family members and relatives. Her niece, despite being a regular employee of the state government, was allegedly one of Mrs Shair’s biggest beneficiaries. This has been immediately proved as correct. Sources said that CBI was likely to grill some of Mrs Shair’s relatives besides a retired official of DDK Srinagar, Ghulam Nabi Dar, and a girl, namely Shubeena, who had been handling the entire business of making contracts of her programmes and collecting cheques of payment from Accounts Section.

Sources said that the retired Administrative Officer of DDK Srinagar, Mr Baig, and some serving officials would also be interrogated during the process of investigation. Reports from New Delhi today said that senior officials in MHA and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had taken serious note of the engagement of DDG incharge Kashir Channel, Ananya Bannerjee, as a Consultant in MHA after her retirement in DD last year. According to sources, Shami Shair and her friend Ananya Bannerjee had played key role of collaborators in getting an MHA-funded DD serial allotted to the J&K BOSE official, Naila Neelofar despite her being a government employee.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports this evening said that on the request from BOSE, J&K Bank has frozen all the three accounts of Ms Naila Neelofar including her illegal business account at the bank’s New Theed branch. While as her old salary account continues to exist and operate at J&K Bank, branch Lal Mandi, her new salary account is operating at J&K Bank BOSE branch Bemina.


SVO filing challan in Gulmarg Roshni Scam
Mehboob Iqbal, Mushtaq Chaya, Manzoor Burza among 14 accused

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 25: State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) is finally filing its challan in the infamous ‘Gulmarg Roshni Scam’ after nearly five years of investigation in an anti-corruption court here on Wednesday. Awaiting sanction to prosecution from Government of India in favour of IAS officer, Baseer Khan, SVO is all set to file its challan against five serving and retired public servants, including Mr Mehboob Iqbal, and nine hoteliers, including the most prominent Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, Mushtaq Ahmad Burza, Manzoor Ahmad Burza and Mussadiq Shah.

Early Times learned from authoritative sources that Vigilance Organisation Kashmir (VOK), Kashmir wing of SVO, would be filing challan of the ‘Gulmarg Roshni Scam’ in the court of Special Judge Anti-corruption, Mr Mohan Lal, in the forenoon on Wednesday. VOK had approached the court of Additional Special Judge, Anti-corruption, Ms Jeema Bashir, today but, according to sources, she refused to entertain it in absence of certain necessary powers of jurisdiction.

In a few days from now, Department of Law and Parliamentary Affairs is expected to issue a notification that would give more powers to additional special judges of anti-corruption in Srinagar and Jammu. As of now, only the designated Special Judges have the powers and jurisdiction to entertain challan in most of the corruption-related matters.

Sources said that a VOK team would now submit the challan of ‘Gulmarg Roshni Scam’ before Special Judge Anti-corruption here tomorrow. According to sources, following a direction in a Public Interest Litigation in Jammu Wing of J&K High Court, General Administration Department has forwarded the matter of prosecution sanction to Mr Baseer Khan to the Department of Personnel and Training in Government of India last month. Sanction to his prosecution is still awaited.

Currently Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Baseer Khan was DC Baramulla when Department of Revenue conducted the matter of allotment of government land in favour of a number of influential hoteliers at the famous tourist resort of Gulmarg in 2007-08. As the government has lately inducted Mr Khan into IAS, sanction to his prosecution under rules has to be obtained from Department of Personnel and Training that regulates the Indian Administrative Services and functions under Prime Minister of India.

Sources said that out of the remaining five public servants, only two were serving and three had already retired from service. As the sanction to prosecution of the two serving officials has been obtained, SVO does not need sanction to the prosecution of three others who have reached superannuation. They include the former high profile bureaucrat, Mehboob Iqbal, who was Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir when the Gulmarg Roshni Scam took place and has retired as Commissioner-Secretary PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control in November 2011.

Mr Iqbal figures among the five retired/serving public servants who have been mentioned as accused in SVO’s challan. Others include retired official Farooq Ahmad Shah, who was then Assistant Commissioner Revenue in Baramulla district, then Tehsildar of Gulmarg Gareeb Das, then Naib Tehsildar of Gulmarg Bashir Ahmad and then Gidawar of Gulmarg Azad Farooq Naik.

Some of Kashmir’s most prominent hoteliers figure among the accused. They include owner of Jhelum Resorts Hotel in Jammu, Hotel Grand Palace in Srinagar and five other hotels in Gulmarg, Pahalgam and New Delhi Mr Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, who also owns one of the largest shopping malls in Srinagar.

Hoteliers Mushtaq Ahmad Burza, Manzoor Ahmad Burza and Chamber of Commerce and Industry functionary, Mussadiq Shah, also figure among the accused. They also include one of the leading contractors and hoteliers, Mr Nazir Ahmad Mir, of Tangmarg who is known for his proximity to prominent politician and Minister of Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir. Mir has constructed a Rs 120 Crore private mini power project in Bandipore two years back.

Challan has also been prepared against a local ski trainer, Ghulam Rasool Dar, who had obtained one Kanal of land on lease in 2005 but later managed its illegal allotment through Roshni scheme in his favour. An attorney holder of Matoos of Nageen, namely Manzoor Ahmad Khan and one Mohammad Aslam Khan of Tulsi Bagh Srinagar also figure among the nine accused hoteliers.

In its investigation in FIR No: 8 of 2009, VOK has established charges against a group of public servants, then working in Department of Revenue, and the nine private beneficiaries. The officials had processed/ allotted 37 Kanals of government land, owned by Department of Tourism, in favour of these hoteliers under so-called Roshni Scheme that was not by law applicable to the government-owned land.

After nearly two years of preliminary inquiry, SVO had filed FIR No: 8 against the accused officials and beneficiaries in 2009. Even as then Commissioner Vigilance, Mr P S Gill, who was later appointed as DG of Punjab Police, demonstrated significant enthusiasm in investigating this case, matter was hushed up for years allegedly under high political and bureaucratic pressure. Not a single of the accused officials or beneficiaries was arrested even as J&K High Court turned down their anticipatory bail applications.

However, following the proceedings of a PIL in Jammu, strenuously pleaded by eminent lawyer Advocate Sheikh Shakil Ahmad and others, SVO is now filing challan in the anti-corruption court here tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How J&K BOSE official duped MHA through DD

Being Govt employee, she impersonated as ‘Pvt Producer’; MHA funds worth Rs 10.80 lakh landed in her business and salary accounts

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 24: With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launching an inquiry into Doordarshan money transactions in over a dozen bank accounts of the attached Director of Srinagar station, Shami Shair, and her relatives, it has dramatically surfaced that her niece, Naila Neelofar, has been granted union Home Ministry’s counter-propaganda serial for approved budget of Rs 24 lakhs despite being a regular employee of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Directorate General of Doordarshan has transferred Ministry of Home Affairs funds worth Rs 10.80 lakh to Naila Neelofar’s illegal business account of M/S Aabid Films at New Theed branch of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd through RTGS on 3-4-2012 out of which she further shifted an amount of Rs 10.50 lakh to her old salary account at J&K Bank branch, Lal Mandi. The money kept shuttling between two of her three bank accounts. However, none of the accounts operated by her had been seized till late tonight.

Authoritative sources, associated with the CBI investigation into the DDK Srinagar bunglings, revealed exclusively to Early Times that one Naila Neelofar, who is a regular government employee and working as Academic Officer (English) at J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE) since 2005, applied for a counter-propaganda programme serial with Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi in the year 2010-11.  She fraudulently described herself a “Private Producer” and claimed to be competent to make a programme series out of the funds MHA had reserved for fighting Pakistan’s propaganda on Kashmir.

With the recommendations of Joint Secretary incharge J&K, MHA recommended her proposal to Directorate General of Doordarshan. This series of 12 episodes, with the approved budget of Rs 2 lakh for each episode, was ultimately sanctioned for total budget of Rs 24 lakhs through File No: 13/35/2010-KC in the name of the applicant, Ms Naila Neelofar, and her illegal banner M/S Aabid Films.

According to sources, former Director of DDK Srinagar, Shami Shair, who happens to be the real sister of Naila Neelofar’s mother, and former Deputy Director General incharge Kashir Channel, Ms Ananya Bannerjee, got the proposal sanctioned so quickly that the applicant’s antecedents were not got verified through Intelligence Bureau (IB). Almost all other applicant private producers were subjected to IB’s verification. Known for her friendship with Mrs Shair, Ms Bannerjee was a member of the committee that approved Naila’s proposal. Interestingly, after her retirement from DD’s service, she was engaged as a ‘Consultant’ by MHA last year.

Sources said that with the help of Mrs Shair and Ms Bannerjee, Naila Neelofar executed an agreement with DD (Kashir Channel). Subsequently, on 3-4-2012, DD released an advance payment of Rs 10,80,000 which was transferred through RTGS to current account No: 1243010100000034 of J&K Bank, branch New Theed, operated by “Naila Neelofar D/o Ali Mohammad Dalkaw Chandpora Harwan” despite her being an officer in the state Government.

Out of this, she withdrew an amount of Rs 10,40,000 by cheque No: 3510465 on 6-4-2012 and later deposited an amount of Rs 10,50,000 in her old salary account No: 0365040100013481 at J&K Bank, branch Lal Mandi, that continues runs in the name of “Naila Neelofar D/o Prof Ali Mohammad Dalkaw”even after BOSE shifted its headquarters to the new complex at Bemina.

After her office shifted to Bemina, she opened a fresh salary account, No: 0547040100000050, at J&K Bank, branch BOSE Bemina, in which BOSE has been regularly depositing her monthly salary. This third account runs in the name of “Naila Neelofar W/o Aijaz Ul Haque R/o Friends Colony Baghat Barzulla”.  

Current year’s transactions in Naila Neelofar’s illegal business account, at J&K Bank branch New Theed, indicate that one Neelofar Shair has transferred an amount of Rs 1,50,000 in it on 31-1-2012 and cash worth Rs 200,000 has been deposited in it on 1-2-2012. After huge amounts of money shuttled between her two accounts [New Theed and Lal Mandi], balance of over Rs 11 Lakh is still in her business account [1243010100000034 New Theed].

While the status of Naila Neelofar’s DD production is still being ascertained, other skeletons have begun to come out the cupboard. Private producer, Tarouq Loulpuri, who himself figures among the MHA-DD beneficiaries list of 23 persons, has obtained information about the MHA-sponsored programmes through an RTI application. He subsequently filed another RTI applicant with BOSE in Srinagar as also a written complaint, asking how a regular government employee had been allowed to operate business with DD in violation of Service Rules. He sought immediate inquiry and action, that includes termination of services for breach of trust and conduct, against Ms Naila Neelofar in May this year.

Chairman BOSE, Dr Sheikh Bashir Ahmad, ordered an inquiry immediately. He constituted a 2-member committee, comprising Director Academics Malik Ghulam Hassan and Assistant Secretary Examinations (Kashmir) Farooq Ahmad Khan. The panel issued charge sheet under No: F(Chrge Sht./Prb)-12 dated 27-6-2012, asking Academic Officer (English) Ms Naila to explain her position.

In her reply No: F(Reply/A/O-Eng)B/KD/12 dated 2-7-2012, Ms Naila categorically denied the charge that she had ever applied for or obtained a DD project for production (business). She claimed that she was simply a scriptwriter of the production for which she had applied for permission. “The man (Mr Loulpuri) has made me a soft target as he wanted to settle scores with my relative Smt Shami Shair, the programme head of Doordarshan. I refute it outright. You can scrutinize the accounts for verification”, she wrote to Director Academics in her reply to the charge sheet.

“This that I have deceived Doordarshan authorities by presenting myself as a ‘private producer’ is again the figment of his imagination. Different projects have their sets of rules. This year also concepts were invited. Working people in govt, semi-govt, autonomous private sectors and private TV channels were debarred from applying as it was given in writing that the person is not working anywhere. Upholding the sanctity of the same, I did not apply”, she claimed in the conclusion of her reply, three months after secretly receiving an amount of Rs 10.80 Lakh from DD in her business account and just 8 days before she made a transaction of Rs 10.50 Lakh of the same money.

Interestingly, on 7-7-2012, complainant Tarouq Loulpuri submitted another application to BOSE and withdrew his allegations against Ms Naila. He gave it in writing that his charges were “false”. Investigators feel that Mr Loulpuri withdrew his complaint after Ms Naila, alongwith her aunt, Mrs Shair, approached him and assured him that his frozen payments of “in-house programmes” pending with DDK Srinagar would be released soon.

Did the matter end up in a compromise between Mr Loulpuri, Ms Naila and Mrs Shair? “Not at all”, Chairman BOSE, Dr Bashir asserted.

“Even after Mr Loulapuri withdrew his complaint, we wrote a letter to Director General of DD, requesting him to communicate whether any DD serial had been allotted in the name of Ms Naila Neelofar. We made it clear in the letter that Ms Naila was a regular employee of the state government who was working as Academic Officer (English) with BOSE for the last seven years. We did not receive ant reply from DD Doordarshan in the last over two months. Even our reminders did not yield anything”, Chairman BOSE told Early Times.

He said that even in absence of response from DD, BOSE had learned with substantive evidence that Ms Naila had applied for and obtained the business project from DD as a private producer. “We are slapping a fresh charge sheet on her. In case she fails to reply or suppresses the facts again, we will place her under suspension and initiate necessary action under rules”, Dr Bashir said.

Efforts to get a reaction from Ms Naila and Mrs Shair failed as their mobile phones were continuously switched off. [With the assurance that we will carry it verbatim, Early Times, hereby, requests them both to make their reaction available to the facts given hereinabove in its e-mail so that neither of them gets condemned unheard.


CBI’s own men under scanner

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 24: Well-placed sources revealed that while investigating charges of large scale corruption against Doordarshan officials in Srinagar and Jammu, CBI was also examining how some former officials of the investigating agency had “either delayed or buried” inquiries against two of the former DD officials, namely Mahesh Chopra in 2007-10 and Rafeeq Masoodi in 2008-11.

While as complaints against Mr Chopra had been reportedly hushed up, two FIRs were registered by CBI against Masoodi while he functioned as Director DDK Srinagar. Charges were established in both but one was reportedly deferred and another closed as ‘not established’.

CBI is now scrutinizing the conduct and role of some of its former officials who maintained a close liaison, first with Masoodi and later with Mrs Shami Shair. Even the matter of a mysterious fire at DDK Srinagar was brushed under the carpet.

According to sources, it was being looked into as to how a particular Inspector managed his posting back to Srinagar immediately after a CBI director---who had written in his APRs that the official be not posted in Srinagar---had retired.

Sources said that it was because of similar facts that CBI directorate in New Delhi maintained tight secrecy and did not disclose things to anybody in Jammu or Srinagar till SSP of Jammu office arranged a raid on DDK Srinagar last week.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not a single Forest vacancy pending with PSC

After selection of 104 Veterinary Surgeons, PSC left with lowest ever workload of 516 posts; 200 of them stayed by courts

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Sep 22: With the selection of 104 veterinary assistant surgeons for Animal and Sheep Husbandry Departments this week, Jammu and Kashmir State Public Service Commission (PSC) is now left with the lowest ever workload of filling up just 516 gazetted vacancies. Selection for nearly 200 of these vacancies has been stayed by different courts.

According to a notification issued by PSC the other day, selection has been made for all the 104 vacancies of veterinary assistant surgeons that had been referred to the Commission earlier this year by Departments of Animal Husbandry and Sheep Husbandry. J&K High Court had stayed the process but PSC resumed the activity by virtue of a court order recently.

Authoritative sources in PSC revealed to Early Times that the Commission was now left with the job of selecting incumbents for just 516 vacancies. This is believed to be the lowest ever workload in the last 30 years. With about 200 of these vacancies being embroiled in litigation, PSC’s total responsibility has reduced to making selection for just 300-odd posts.

With the four members having retired in the last three years, PSC has currently four members---Javed Makhdoomi, Masood Samoon, Khizar Mohammad Wani and K B Jandial--- and a Chairman, S L Bhat. Lobbying has been underway to push in favourites among politicians and bureaucrats as over a dozen names have been in circulation of speculations since earlier this year. An eminent journalist’s brother, who has retired recently as a Head of Department, is said to be the latest addition to the long list of probables.

According to PSC sources, selection process of 120 vacancies of Higher Secondary Lecturers, referred by School Education Department in 2008, has been stayed by a court. Previously, 13 of similar vacancies had been referred to PSC in 2006. Even that selection stands frozen due to the matter being sub judice.

Department of Technical Education had referred 51 vacancies in 2012. Department of Housing & Urban Development had referred 22 vacancies of Executive Officers in 2012. Process of finalizing the rules of recruitment would follow with the notification and selection process later this year.

Department of Law had referred 15 posts of Public Law Officers in 2010. Selection process has been stayed by a court. Department of Law has also referred 36 posts of Munsiff in 2012. Written test has been conducted and the selection process is likely to be completed later this year.

Department of Horticulture has referred 10 posts in 201o but the selection process has been stayed by a court. Previously, same department had referred 2 posts to PSC in 2009.

Department of Health and Medical Education has referred 117 posts to PSC in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Selection process is currently underway.

General Administration Department (GAD) has referred 65 posts of  feeding services of Kashmir Administrative Service in 2012. PSC has conducted the Preliminary examination. Mains and viva voce processes are likely to be completed under a schedule by the end of March 2013.

With reference to Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad’s recent statement, PSC sources said that not a single vacancy had been referred to the Commission by Forest Department in the last three years and no selection process in entire Forest sector was currently pending.

Sources said that after a pause of over 25 years, Forest Department had referred 40 vacancies of Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACF) and 15 vacancies of Range Officers (ROs) Grade-I to the Commission. PSC completed the process in the middle of last year.

Thus, it was for the first time in the last 27 years that 40 ACFs joined Forest Department directly in the year 2011. The last direct appointment of ACFs had been made in 1984. All those who were appointed in 1984, are now holding the ranks of Conservator of Forest (CF) or Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) or equivalent. Similarly, it was after several years that 15 directly recruited ROs Grade-I joined Forest Department in J&K in August 2011.

PSC sources said that officials of different departments in Forest sector were avoiding to refer vacancies of ACFs, ROs Grade-I, Assistant Directors (ADs) of Forest Protection Force (FPF) and equivalent for “unknown reasons” even as over 600 Forestry and Environmental graduates were unemployed and a large number of trained and qualified officers in Forest sector had either retired or were close to retirement. Over a hundred Forestry graduates have reportedly crossed the age bar of 37 years and thus denied an opportunity in Government service.

PSC sources said that Forest Department had modified rules of recruitment for selection of ROs Grade-I which could result in better prospects for Forestry graduates and postgraduates. However, it was still a “free-for-all phenomenon” in the selection of ACFs. According to existing rules, which have not been modified since decades, all graduates, with few exceptions, are still eligible for the competitive examination of ACFs.

“Government has been ignoring the overwhelming demand of modifying the rules on the pattern of ROs Grade-I. Now that hundreds of Forestry graduates and postgraduates are available, only these technically qualified men and women should be eligible to appear in the competition for recruitment of ACFs”, said a PSC official. He said that Government had also failed to make rules of recruitment for ADs and Inspectors in FPF in the last 16 years and all 60 posts of ADs were lying vacant since December 1996.

“Appointment of candidates as Rehbar-e-Janglat signifies an adhocist and non-serious mindset. They should make rules and refer all vacancies to PSC. We have literally no workload. We can complete the selection process in just two or three months”, said a Member at PSC.

According to an official press release issued on September 8th, Forest Minister had directed officers of Forest sector to refer all vacancies to PSC and Service Selection Board immediately for filling up these posts on fast-track basis. According to the Minister, it was “a part of Government’s endeavour to further strengthen the functioning of Forest Department and its allied wings”.

Contrary to the status available in PSC, Forest officials had apprised the Minister that there were 1624 gazetted and non-gazetted vacancies out of which 1320 vacancies “have already been referred to PSC/SSRB, whereas rest will be referred at the earliest”

“The Minister directed the heads of J&K Pollution Control Board and J&K Forest Protection Force to accomplish the process of recruitment rules to ensure transparency in their organizations in a time bound manner. He asked the officers to fix the responsibility for delaying in framing the rules, adding that no organization can accomplish its legitimate task without proper rules and regulations, therefore the process of framing the rules should be finished immediately”, the official press release on September 8th said.


PDP leader, SSM staff clash on Pattan land

With Ansari, Geelani on one page, Tech Fest runs into rough weather

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 22: The high profile Technical and Cultural Festival of a private engineering college in Pattan area of Baramulla district has run into rough weather after a clash between the staff of the college and a mainstream political leader. While as SSM College of Engineering has alleged that PDP leader Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, alongwith his security guards and family members, attacked some members of the staff, the opposition MLA from Pattan has held the college owners guilty of “grabbing a poor man’s land under the support of Army”.

Informed sources said that on the day of a shutdown in Valley on Friday, PDP leader and former Minister, Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, drove all the way to his farmhouse and orchard at Parihaspora, in Pattan area of Baramulla district, and he objected to organizing of a Technical and Cultural Festival on a piece of land, close to his farms, by SSM College. During the course, an altercation took place between the two sides and Police and Revenue authorities reached the spot.

SSM’s founder and owner, Dilafroz Qazi, told Early Times that the Police-protected mainstream politician reached the spot when students and staff of her college were raising a stage and making preparations for the two-day festival scheduled to be held by students of final year of Engineering on September 24th and 25th. She alleged that Maulvi, his son Imran Ansari, brother Abid Ansari and their security guards barged into the campus and ran amuck while smashing furniture, abusing the staff and students and beating up few among them. She claimed that five persons, including her brother, were beaten up with gun butts and left injured.

She alleged that the ‘assailants’ went to the second floor of the SSM’s Admissions Block and got her brother, Bilal, dragged downstairs. According to her, the attackers used vulgar language, held out threats and roughed up Bilal and others on the premises. Their objection, according to her, was that SSM was “attempting to grab a poor man’s land” while holding a show on it with the involvement of Army. She alleged that Bilal was beaten up mercilessly and he bled profusely through his nose. When she learned about it, she called up Police but incharge of Police Division Mirgund, namely SI Safdar, did not file FIR. He instead asked her to settle the dispute with Ansari amicably.

Even as Mr Ansari was not available for comment, his son, Irfan Ansari, rubbished all the charges of violence and aggression against his father, brother and uncle besides the security guards. “Maulvi Sahib and others of our family rushed there after a poor man and religious follower of the family, Malla Akbar, who is handicapped and admitted in a hospital, complained that Madam of SSM College was grabbing his piece of land forcibly, with the support of Army”, Irfan told Early Times.

According to Irfan Ansari, Ms Dilafroz has organized a show on the “disputed” piece of land with the intention of asserting her possession and thus grabbing it fully. “These allegations of aggression and manhandling are utterly rubbish. It is, in fact, the SSM people who attacked us. Maulvi Sahib immediately called SHO, SDPO and Tehsildar on the spot and asked them to give maintain Malla Akbar’s possession on the land in accordance with the Revenue records”, he said.

Irfan Ansari claimed that Revenue and Police authorities were assessing the situation and examining the records. “We will abide by law. Let the possession be held by the real owner. We won’t allow this lady to grab a poor man’s land of 5 Kanals by way of aggression”, he asserted. “Police, Army, many others are witness to the whole verbal clash. Had we attacked or hurt anybody, they would have filed an FIR immediately”.

Dilafroz retorted that she had purchased Malla’s land in 2006 for Rs 40 lakhs and the entire payment had been made to him through cheques. “Where is Haji Akbar? He is not even a complainant in this matter. Maulvi Sahib is bent upon grabbing this land but we have all the Revenue records duly in our favour. DC Baramulla and Tehsildar Pattan are fully aware of it”, she asserted. She complained that Mr Ansari was now orchestrating a vilification campaign against her and her college and spreading ‘canards’ that Army was holding a show there under Operation Sadbhavana.

She said that she was now receiving threats from some people speaking on behalf of the Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “They have been falsely told that it was an Army show, though it isn’t”, she added and said that she was now making the situation clear to Mr Geelani. She said that her enemies were now running a campaign to defame her and sully her college’s image through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

According to Dilafroz, students of her engineering college have organized a two-day festival on the premises. “This festival is sponsored by a number of groups reached by the students. They include J&K Bank, J&K Police, Khyber Cements, Noora Hospital, Chinar Motors, Asoka Leyland, GK Spectrum and others. Army has no participation or sponsorship in it. Actually, some of our students, who feared that Maulvi Sahib would resist organizing the show on the spot, have approached Army and requested them to install a stage. I am told that they have installed it. They have no role in the festival”, she claimed.

Dilafroz said that a large number of students from different Indian engineering colleges, including J&K’s NIT, Islamic University of Science and Technology and others, were participating in the festival. Project presentation, quiz competition, essay competition, mimicry show, book exhibition and cultural programme are features of the festival. “But, Maulvi Sahib has threatened to play spoilsport. Many of the participants and organizing students are now scared. They feel harassed and request me to cancel the festival”, she said and alleged that Mr Ansari had attacked her college, students and staff dozens of times since 1990 and a number of FIRs stood already registered against him.

However, Irfan Ansari alleged that the SSM owner had already grabbed huge chunks of land on the Karewa with the support of some Police and civil officials. “Now, she wants to dispossess a genuine owner from his land who is poor and has sought only our help. We have no intention to grab any land or damage this College. Tehsildar was himself on the spot. He has submitted a report and seen that Madam has felled trees and put a bull-dozer on the job to grab this land”, he asserted.