Total Pageviews

Friday, January 4, 2013

J&K Public Service Commission member alleges violation of norms in selection of officers

 “Result notification issued on November 16 without mandatory approval”


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 3: Days before his retirement on Thursday, one of the four members of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Service Commission [PSC] complained to Governor Narendar Nath Vohra that rules and regulations were being flouted with impunity in the selection of gazetted officers for different civil and judicial services in the State.

A communication received by the Raj Bhavan from the outgoing PSC member Javed Makhdoomi last week alleged that Chairman S.L. Bhat “completely sidelined and reduced to a rubber stamp” three of the four members of the multi-member constitutional body with the help of one member and Secretary of the commission. Mr. Makhdoomi cited the selection of junior judges, while dropping a veritable bombshell that the result notification issued on November 16 had not been signed or approved in any other manner by three of the four members.

The communication accessed by The Hindu carries along a bundle of documents to establish that the three members — Javed Makhdoomi, Kulbhushan Jandial and Masood Samoon, had made repeated submissions to the Chairman, urging him to stem the rot of “selective leakage” and make the selection processes fair and transparent. However, Mr. Bhat not only persisted with the scheme of things with impunity but also got the result of the Kashmir Civil Service Judicial Examination notified without the Commission’s mandatory approval.

“Yes, I have sent a representation to the Governor and sought his intervention to set things right at the PSC,” Mr. Makhdoomi confirmed. “If three of the four members of the Commission have recorded their reservations, expressed serious apprehensions with regard to the fairness of the selection process and refused to sign it, somebody needs to probe,” Mr. Makhdoomi told The Hindu. The Governor, he said, was the “last resort” as the Chairman, according to him, had not responded to the representations of the three members. He asserted that the result notification of KCS (Judicial) examination was “completely illegal and unauthorised,” confirming that he, on behalf of the three dissident members, requested the Governor to order an investigation.

Raj Bhavan sources said that a letter from Mr. Makhdoomi had been received and it was being passed on to the Governor.

“The result notification needs to be cancelled forthwith as it doesn’t have approval of three-fourth of the members,” Mr. Makhdoomi said. Quoting from PSC’s rules of business and procedure, he contended that all decisions, including selection lists and result notifications, were required to be approved by the quorum — 50 per cent of the members plus one. He claimed that only one of the four members— Khizar Mohammad Wani, was taken on board in issuing the result notification of the Munsiffs’ written examination.



As against the sanctioned strength of eight members and a chairman, the PSC has been operating with just four members and the chairman since 2011. With Mr. Makhdoomi’s retirement now, its size has further reduced to three — the first time in the last several years.

Interestingly, none of the government departments has referred any vacancies to the Commission in recent times, though they are all bound by SRO-166 dated 14-06-2005 to refer all vacancies “by the 15th of January every year.”

The PSC is currently scheduling the interview of the 202 candidates declared as passed in the screening test. However, in the last seven weeks the Chief Justice of the J&K High Court has not deputed any of the judges to assist the PSC panel in holding the viva voce. Informed sources insist that inclusion of names of the children of some influential men in the executive and the judiciary has raised many eyebrows in certain institutions and the civil society.

The communication received by the Raj Bhavan carries documentary evidence to prove that the members had repeatedly urged the Chairman to plug the “selective leakage,” which, according to the three dissident members was being managed by men in the Civil Secretariat through some computer operators and ‘consultants’ engaged on contract. It has been pointed out that even a retired official, who has worked with the Chairman’s loyalist member at the non-gazetted recruitment board previously, has also been engaged by the PSC.

The Commission's chairman, S.L. Bhat, and Secretary, T.S. Ashok Kumar, did not respond to phone calls. The Hindu also e-mailed a questionnaire to Mr. Kumar, but did not receive a response in the last 10 days.


Web Link

Three B.Tech students questioned for hacking university website

VC constitutes faculty panel for probe, asks police to wait

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

RAJOURI, Dec 2: Three B.Tech students are being interrogated by the police and are facing an in-house enquiry as well for allegedly hacking the data system of the College of Engineering and Technology (COET) of the State-run Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah (BGSB) University, Rajouri, in Jammu.

Informed sources said the Rajouri police detained the students earlier this week for “questioning” to investigate their role in cracking the administrator codes of their college website and IT system. They allegedly hacked the system and uploaded on the COET domain a press release that, according to Vice-Chancellor Prof. Irshad Ahmad Hamal, was “two-year-old” and aimed at “defaming the University.”

The 5th semester students, detained and questioned ‘informally’ by the police, include the son of an Associate Professor of Hospital Administration at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, Srinagar.Superintendent of Police Rajouri, Mubassir Latifi, confirmed that BGSB University Registrar, Mohammad Rashid Choudhary, approached SHO Rajouri on November 27 with a verbal complaint that the COET website had been hacked and objectionable material criminally uploaded. He, however, asserted that the police neither registered an FIR nor arrested the suspects in the absence of a written complaint.

“SHO Rajouri advised the university staff to file a written complaint,” Mr. Latifi told The Hindu, “making it clear that police would not launch an informal investigation.” “On November 29th, BGSB officials came again, this time with a letter from the Registrar, that the VC had constituted a committee which had started in-house investigation. They wanted the police to stop and wait for findings of the enquiry,” Mr. Latifi said.

Even as Mr. Latifi said the police did not act, acquaintances of the three students claimed that they remained in custody for four days, facing questions as to why and how they had executed the hacking. This was also corroborated by one of the detained student’s family members on condition of anonymity. They said a detenu’s father, along with a senior SKIMS official, was camping in Jammu to help out the accused students. He reportedly told the VC that the matter can be resolved without filing a criminal complaint under the Information Technology Act.

Prof. Hamal confirmed hacking of the COET data system, but maintained that the website had been restored.


Web Link;

Srinagar under indefinite curfew


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 28: In the wake of sectarian tension in Baramulla and Budgam districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday over an alleged sacrilegious marking on some shoes, the authorities imposed curfew in more than half of Srinagar on Wednesday.

Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar Baseer Khan told The Hindu that curfew was imposed in areas falling under the jurisdiction of nine police stations — Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Safakadal, Khanyar, Rainawari, Nigeen, Lal Bazar, Zadibal and Parimpora.


“We had serious apprehensions and some disturbing reports indicating a wider flare-up. After incidents of stone pelting in Baramulla and Budgam districts on Tuesday, miscreants gathered in Srinagar at some places and clashed, initially with the police and later with each other,” Mr. Khan said adding that nobody was injured in Wednesday’s sporadic incidents of stone pelting.

According to SSP Srinagar Ashiq Bukhari, groups of youths forced the closure of shops and stopped traffic at certain places in downtown Srinagar in the morning. While a shutdown was enforced in Nowhatta area over the detention of some stone-pelters, demonstrators staged protests at Sayeedakadal, Hawal and Sazgaripora against the purported sacrilegious marking.

As the day progressed, intense clashes broke out between people of two sects at Hawal Chowk, Alamgari Bazar, Sazgaripora and Gojwara. “Fearing that the trouble could engulf a larger area in the historically sensitive downtown, we recommended [imposition of] curfew,” Mr. Bukhari said adding Kralpora Hawal was the worst-affected locality where two groups fought each other even after curfew was declared in the evening.

A police spokesman said in a release on Wednesday night: “The police have taken cognisance of some skirmishes between two sectarian communities in Zadibal area. The civil and police administration are monitoring the situation. There are no reports of anybody getting injured. However, sporadic incidents of stone pelting have been reported.”

Sources said that after Tuesday’s demonstrations, the police seized about 10 pairs of the controversially designed shoes of a Chinese company. According to reports on Wednesday, the situation was tense in some Shia localities but no sectarian clash was reported from anywhere in the Valley.

Exams postponed

According to the Controller of Examinations, Kashmir University, all examinations scheduled on November 29 have been postponed.


Web Link:

E-mail threat to avenge execution of Kasab sent to Jammu from Bangalore

J&K Police team in Karnataka to question cyber café owner

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

UDHAMPUR, Nov 28: Following a threat to avenge Ajmal Kasab’s execution with terror strikes on the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine town of Katra, Jammu and Kashmir police have registered a criminal case, sounded a red alert and beefed up security in Udhampur and Reasi districts.

After detecting that the e-mail threat to a hotel at Katra emanated from Bangalore, a J&K Police team went to Karnataka and started questioning a couple running a cyber café in a posh locality.

Authoritative sources revealed that the manager of Hotel Grand Devi at Katra, 13 km from the Vaishno Devi shrine, informed the police on November 24 that a threat to avenge Kasab’s death had been emailed by an unknown sender.

“We will avenge the execution of Ajmal Kasab. We will teach India a lesson. We will celebrate Deepavali in Katra. The flying birds will be fired. Indians will be targeted. Stop us if you can,” the text of the email, according to informed sources, read. The unknown sender’s email address, they said, was

Officials associated with the investigation said the police registered a case under Sections 505 and 507 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), Section 66 of Information Technology Act, besides Sections 13 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A team of personnel from the executive Police and Cyber Crime Cell, headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police directly under the supervision of SP Katra, was constituted for investigation.

Inspector General of Police Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, told The Hindu that the police team led by an S.P. and comprising investigators and some IT experts from the Cyber Cell, have started questioning the suspects in Bangalore in coordination with the Karnataka Police.

No CCTV cameras

The cyber café had neither maintained any record of customers nor installed CCTV cameras.

“As of now,” the IG said, “the threat appears to be real and we have taken all necessary steps to safeguard Vaishno Devi pilgrims, the shrine and the hotels at Katra.”

“However, we are still trying to determine whether the email had come from a real terror outfit or someone was playing a prank,” Mr. Singh added. The police would crack the mystery “very soon” and arrest the culprits, he said.

“We are also investigating why the threat had been sent to one particular hotel manager. A possibility exists that someone is harassing him out of mischief or personal enmity,” Mr. Singh said. Udhampur police sources told The Hindu that, immediately after the complaint was received, authorities put extra security arrangements in place to protect pilgrims, hotel operators, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board functionaries and others associated with the round-the-year pilgrimage.

The authorities were also planning security for a University and other establishments operated by the Shrine Board that functions independently under the command of Governor, the sources said.

On hit list

Nearly ten million Hindu devotees from all over the country, as also from some foreign countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka visit the shrine annually to pay their obeisance. The shrine, as well as the hilly Katra township in Reasi district, according to police sources, have been high on the terror hit-list ever since the armed insurgency began in 1990. However, no attack has taken place over the two decades.


Web Link:

Forest land grab issue in J&K takes new turn


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 28: The issue of alleged land grabbing in a forest compartment in Shopian area of Kashmir has taken a new turn with senior Congress leader and Irrigation Minister Taj Mohiuddin urging Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference (NC) to set up a joint committee of Revenue and Forest Department officials for investigation and demarcation.

“I’m now running out of my patience,” Mr. Mohiuddin complained toThe Hindu, “as many of my enemies have joined hands to settle their scores with me…As the last resort, I have written a letter to the Forest Minister, urging him to close this chapter once and for all.”

‘Dragged into the row’

“These people have targeted me for the last thirty years. Sometime this matter goes to the State Accountability Commission, sometime to State Vigilance Organisation and sometime to House Committee in Legislative Council,” Mr. Mohiuddin said. He claimed that the allegation of land grabbing, involving 13 kanals of land in Sedav forest area of Shopian in the foothills of Pin Panjal mountain range, had never been established. “They are now settling political scores by dragging me into controversy after controversy, though all these accusations have been proved unfounded and malicious,” he said.

In Monday’s communication, addressed to the Forest Minister, Mr. Mohiuddin has offered to withdraw his claim on the land if a government committee proves that he grabbed any land anywhere in the State. “I have 18 kanals of propriety land there. Besides, I have rightfully annexed Shamilat land measuring 13 kanals and applied for its propriety rights under the Roshi Act. I have long back deposited entire amount of value,” Mr. Mohiuddin asserted.

Mr. Mohiuddin’s letter, a copy of which is withThe Hindu, implores the Forest Minister: “I shall be thankful, if you please look into the matter personally and get a joint committee of Revenue/Forest Departments constituted to demarcate the land under reference once again, in order to clinch the issue once for all, so that the records are put straight and unnecessary coverage through print/ electronic media, which tends to undermine my image, due to the vilifications campaign launched against me. Besides, if the committee comes to the conclusion that any portion of Forest Land is under my occupation as per the records — which is not so — the same may be withdrawn.”

Panel to be formed soon

Asked for his reaction, Mr. Mian Altaf told The Hindu that he would constitute a committee of senior officials of the Revenue and Forest Departments, as demanded by his colleague, for investigating the matter. “I am busy with Legislative Council elections in Srinagar. As soon as I receive Taj Sahab’s letter, I will proceed in the matter under law,” he said.

Earlier this year, the issue of alleged land grabbing had been raked up by some opposition members in Legislative Council. Taking cognisance, Chairman Amrit Malhotra had constituted a House Committee comprising five members from the NC, Congress, People’s Democratic Party and Panthers Party.

However, within days, and after attending some meetings, all three members of the NC-Congress coalition withdrew from the committee, leading to a barrage of speculations. Rather than making fresh nominations, Mr. Malhotra dissolved the committee, while lamenting in his order that the NC members had withdrawn and rendered the investigation meaningless.

  I have 18 Kanals of propriety land there, says

  ‘Prepared to withdraw claim over land, if panel produces proof

Web Link:

19 of marriage party killed, 55 injured in Jammu mishap

Collection of Rs 20 crore fine from erring drivers fails to decrease road accidents in J&K; 1100 die in the year 2011-12
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 24: : Nineteen persons died and 55 others of a marriage party sustained injuries when their bus skidded off the road and plunged into a 300-ft deep gorge in Ramnagar area of Udhampur district on Saturday night.

Inspector General of Police, Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, told The Hindu that a bus carrying a marriage party skidded off the road and rolled down into a ravine in Dudu Basantgarh area, 160 Kms from Jammu. The bus, which had permissible seating capacity of only 42 passengers, was carrying as many as 74 people on board.

Nineteen persons, including two brothers of the bride groom, died till late this evening. The IGP said that 11 of them died on spot and others subsequently succumbed to injuries either en route or under treatment at two hospitals in Udhampur and Jammu.

Even after some patients were discharged today, nearly 45 of the injured were still admitted and under treatment at District Hospital at Udhampur. Mr. Singh said that seven of the critically wounded were shifted to Army’s Northern Command Hospital at Udhampur. Of them, four were battling for life. Three persons with critical injuries were rushed to Jammu and admitted to Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital, IGP said. One of them died this evening, raising the toll to 19.

Minister of Health, Sham Lal Sharma, visited the injured at the three hospitals today. Deputy Commissioner, P K Pole, and Senior Superintendent of Police, Udhampur, Ashkoor Wani, said that almost all the injured were responding to treatment. Mr Wani said that the rescue operation took several hours overnight, despite a helping hand by CRPF, as the site of the accident was nearly 60 Kms off Chinani on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Some of those killed in the tragedy have been identified as Purshotam Singh and Joginder Singh, real brothers of bridegroom Rakesh Singh, besides Karnail Singh, son of Nasib Singh, Mohd Shafiq son of Mohd Din, Kuldeep Singh son of Kirpal Singh, and Balbir Singh son of Bodh Raj, all residents of Basantgarh.

Governor, N.N. Vohra, and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, have said that they were shocked over the huge loss of life. Chief Minister directed the authorities to provide best possible treatment to the injured, even if anybody would have to be flown to PGI Chandigarh or New Delhi for specialised treatment.

Today’s, according to authoritative sources, was the umpteenth of such tragedies in Udhampur-Doda belt of Jammu region where more than 200 commuters are estimated to have died in identical road accidents in the last two years. Officials said that, like many of such incidents in the past, the ill-fated bus on Saturday was 15 years old. It was not immediately clear whether or not the driver was carrying a license.

The matter of issuance of over 50,000 driving licenses in two years by Regional Transport Officers of Udhampur and Doda few years back has been raked up by media and the civil society. However, men of consequence in politics and bureaucracy have proactively shielded the accused officials, allegedly for a larger nexus. Even the CBI has given a clean chit to some of the accused, allegedly for pecuniary considerations.

A House Committee of J&K Legislature, which was set up in the wake of intense public criticism of the alleged nexus, has failed to stop operation of condemned vehicles by drivers carrying fake licenses in the hilly terrain that has grown quite infamous for road accidents in the last four years.

J&K Transport Commissioner, Meraj Ahmad Kakru, admitted that operation of condemned buses, often handled by incompetent drivers, was a major reason of the alarming rate of road accidents in Doda-Udhampur belt. He told The Hindu that as many as 1,100 persons had died in such accidents in J&K in 2011-12 alone. Mr Kakru said that the government had taken a slew of measures to reduce these numbers. As of now, he said, there was “little improvement”.

Mr Kakru said that Traffic Police and Motor Vehicle Department had imposed penalties and collected fine worth Rs 20 Crore from the erring drivers last year. He said that all executive magistrates were now being authorized to seize vehicles 15 years of age or more. “They have been directed to launch an awareness campaign and discourage overloading and driving by incompetent drivers with harsher methods”, Mr. Kakru said.   


Web Link:

JeM’s last visible commander killed in Sopore

The Pakistani national used VOIP; was active in north Kashmir since 2002
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 24: The “divisional commander” of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Yasir alias Yasir Tunda, was killed in Sopore-Rafiabad area of Baramulla district in the early hours of Saturday in a joint operation by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Army.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Shiv Murari Sahai, toldThe Hinduthat the operation was launched after the Sopore Police received a tipoff late on Friday that suggested the presence of the JeM’s last visible commander of north Kashmir at the hideout. The SOG Sopore and Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn swooped on the hideout at the house of one Ali Mohammad Bhat at Chatlora village, 4 km from the apple rich town of Sopore.
In the raid, conducted after evacuating the civilian population, Pakistani militant Yasir, who operated with codenames such as Showkat, Shoaib and Shehzeb, was killed. In the brief exchange of gunfire, Sub Inspector Dilraj sustained injury.

People of the village said that the SOG men failed to find Yasir when they conducted a room-to-room search. However, three SOG men, led by Mr. Dilraj, came back to a room in which a woman was bedridden. The woman claimed that there was none other than her baby under the quilt. As Mr. Dilraj pulled it to verify, Yasir, who was hiding under it, took out his pistol and opened fire.

Dilraj was hit, but he quickly pumped a volley of bullets from his assault rifle, killing the militant on the spot.

“Major achievement”

The IG described Yasir’s killing as a major achievement for the police and security forces. Yasir had taken over the top post of his organisation after the death of “chief commander” Qari Hamaad in an encounter at Fore Shore Road around the Dal Lake here last year.

Sopore Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Hussain Mir said the JeM militant was eliminated in a surgical operation. Yasir was involved in a number of terror attacks on the police, security forces and civilian soft targets. He had shot dead People’s Democratic Party’s Sopore Zone president Ghulam Mohammad Mir at Ladoora village in 2008. At Chatlora, he had gunned down National Conference activist Ghulam Mohiuddin Bhat.

Police sources said Yasir was in touch with his cadres in Kupwara and the organisation’s top leadership in Pakistan through Skype as he would often interact with them through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). His laptop has been seized and it was being scanned to learn about his connections, activities and planning.

Highly placed police sources in Srinagar said that Yasir, along with two associates, recently escaped from a cordon-and-search operation at Divar in Kupwara district. Mostly operating in Lolab, he was active in north Kashmir districts of Kupwara and Baramulla since 2002. The sources said Yasir was the JeM’s “divisional commander” in north Kashmir.


Web link:

24 November 2012

For two families, little cheer from acquittals

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 23: Paadshah in Kashmiri means the king but 65-year-old Paadshah Begam of Shamswari, in the congested downtown Srinagar, has been reduced to something worse than a beggar by the protracted separation from two of her sons. First one, Mirza Iftikhar Hussain, returned to her after fourteen years of lodgment in Delhi’s Tihar Jail when he acquitted by Patiala House court in the Lajpath Nagar bomb blast case of May, 1996, in April 2010. Her third son, Mirza Nissar Hussain, who was awarded death sentence in the same case by the trial court, was among the two convicts acquitted by Delhi High Court on Thursday last.

Neither of the acquittals has, however, faded the somber ambience at Mrs. Paadshah Begum’s home. Once an imposing heritage building, her four-storeyed house stands ruined by a fire and apparently no maintenance in over a decade. She remains statue to the breaking news in Kashmir that brings cheer to thousands of families across the Valley.

Nobody greets the two Shia Muslim families as all expressions of joy are strictly proscribed in the mourning month of Muharram. Shamswari, like the residential locality of the second acquitted convict, Mehmood Ali Bhat, is draped in a barrage of black banners and buntings---paying tributes to the martyrs of Karbala. “Allah has been merciful and we have heard (the news of Mr. Nissar’s acquittal) with all gratitude to Him”, she said when asked for her reaction to the news that, interestingly, came almost parallel to Ajmal Kasab’s hanging.
“Kasab”, her first son Mirza Iftikhar said, “got a better justice”. This never-ending tribulation has completely ruined our family, our business, our studies, and everything. In the last 17 years, each of us has died every day. Kasab was luckier as he died quick and alone”.

“We had a flourishing business of Kashmir art and handicrafts in Delhi and Kathmandu. I was 19-year-old and had just finished my Pre-University when we were arrested. My younger brother Zaffar was preparing for his MBBS entrance in Delhi. Nissar, was a Grade 9th student and just 16-year-old”, Mirza Iftikhar told The Hindu. “They (Delhi Police) have snatched away 17 years of Nissar’s life and 14 years of Iftikhar’s. Who will return me these precious years of my two sons’ life?” Mrs. Paadshah asked.

Why does the family view its suffering as “never-ending” even after both of its scions have been declared as innocent? “Nissar has been framed in another case---a blast that took place in Jaipur, Rajasthan, when he was a middle school student in Batmaloo (Srinagar). Neither he nor I have ever seen Rajasthan”, Mirza Iftikhar explained.

“This (Jaipur blast) case is also running into 17th year. We are told that statements of 200 witnesses have been recorded and there are 100 more. It simply means that my brother will never return to his home”, Mirza Iftikhar added. While referring to the timeline of now concluded Lajpath Nagar case, Mirza claimed that the judgment had been delayed for about a decade inspite of the higher courts passing orders that the trial be completed within a month or within six months. He claimed that as many as 32 judges at the trial court had tossed the disposal to one another.

Why was the Mirza family targeted selectively? “One Javed Kirwaw was our neighbourer in Srinagar. He too had a business in handicrafts and would often visit us at Delhi as well in Nepal. We had no inkling of his being a militant with JKIF”, Mirza said. “Whosoever knew him, was picked up and booked”, Mirza Iftikhar said of the militant who later escaped to Pakistan. Even after the acquittal, Police, he alleged, did not let the family register a business unit with KVIB.

While as three of the Mirza sibling’s sisters were married in their absence from 1996 to 2010, co-accused and now acquitted Mehmood Ali Bhat could not attend any of the three deaths and five marriages in his family. He was in Tihar Jail when his mother died in February, 2000. On two occasions, however, he was escorted to see his family in Srinagar when his maternal uncles died.

“When we heard of Kasab’s hanging on Wednesday, we prayed for Mehmood but prepared ourselves mentally for the last agony. But, it was a miracle when on Thursday we heard that he has been acquitted”, Mr. Bhat’s 70-year-old father, Haji Sher Ali told The Hindu. “Yes, it must come as a relief but we don’t why we don’t feel quite relieved of the suffering”, he added.