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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mufti to Omar: We never knew you had detained just 16 under PSA

·        ‘Jammu and Ladakh should take ownership of J&K’s special status

·        ‘J&K coalition adds diversity to BJP’s mandate’

·        ‘No government jobs to Pakistan refugees’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Jammu, March 20: Chief Minister and head of the PDP-BJP coalition in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir State, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on Friday refused to lend much of importance to the fidayeen attack in Kathua----first after the Assembly elections, in which six people got killed----while asserting that involving Pakistan and “internal stake holders” was necessary for resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio.

Replying to the two-day-long debate on Governor’s address in Legislative Assembly, Mufti claimed that the security scenario had considerably improved in the last several years. He said unfortunately some people were projecting as if Kashmir was a “big prison”.
“Omar Sahab during your regime, we never knew that the total number of the people detained under Public Safety Act was just 16. We were told they are in thousands. But it is the fault of your men who didn’t tell us the real number. When we took charge and inquired about it, who jo kehte hain na ki bahut shour sunte the seene mein dil ka, jo cheera tou ik qatra-e-khoon nikla. We found that their total number was only 37 and 20 of them were foreigners. Of the 16 J&K State subjects, only 3 stone pelters are in jail under PSA”, Mufti told his predecessor Omar Abdullah.

Mufti said he wanted to release the political prisoners to deflate the propaganda that India was on the course of repression and that the entire Kashmir was like a big prison.
“When I took over as Chief Minister in 2002, I released Syed Ali Shah Geelani from a jail in Jharkhand. Congress as well as BJP, Vajyapee as well as Manmohan Singh, supported us to bring about a thaw. Yet again, this deal with BJP is never for grabbing the post of Chief Minister. We just wanted to seize the opportunity of retrieving J&K from the whirlpool of turmoil. PDP had a natural role for its mandate in Kashmir and BJP in Jammu. This alliance in the country’s only Muslim-majority State also adds diversity to BJP’s mandate”, Mufti added.

Mufti asserted that the recent Assembly elections, “fairest ever in last 60 years”, which witnessed a huge voter turnout, had restored the faith of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in democracy. Assembly, he said, had become a major power centre and an institution of credible representative character.
“In 1985, I contested and won the election from Jammu’s RS Pora. Today, the situation is totally different. PDP got only 28 seats in the Assembly elections but in the previous Lok Sabha elections it had maintained lead in 41 Assembly segments”.

Mufti gave credit to Vajpayee for initiating trade and diplomatic liaison with Pakistan and sounded optimistic of a smooth sailing yet again in 2015. He argued that maintenance of peace was a must for development and good governance and therefore the two countries needed to hold dialogue and also engage the “internal stakeholders” in the peace process.

He described J&K as a shining example of the country’s secular credentials which “defies the logic of the two-nation theory and has acceded to the Indian Union”.
Mufti said the example of the BJP and PDP coming together, despite ideological and political differences, can be a model for inclusive governance. He said as the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had turned his Srinagar visit into a historic opportunity to reach out to Pakistan and script the agenda for peace. “Our partnership with Prime Minister Narendra Modi could make the power structure at the national level more inclusive and diverse” he added.

Referring to incidents at Chhatergam and Macchil, Mufti asserted that his Government was committed to take measures and examine the need to review the special laws being applied to the State. “There has been a lot of debate over removal of AFSPA. There is a need to re-look at it. My Government advocates a phase-wise removal of AFSPA from the areas which have been free of militancy for quite some time”.  

Highlighting the purpose of the Alliance between PDP and BJP, the Chief Minister stated that the new Government shall be empowered to take confidence building measures within and across the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K, thereby ensuring lasting peace. “We want to create an enabling environment for all round economic development of the State,” he said.

Chief Minister said that the Union Government had released Rs. 1,000 crore under “Prime Minister’s Package for Floods” for restoration of damage to public assets over and above around Rs. 1,100 crore already available with the State government under NDRF for emergency relief and temporary restoration. An amount of Rs. 820 crore, he said, had been spent under SDRF. “The work on commencement of permanent restoration has already begun. We are separately pursuing the release of a special package that would cater to the requirements of the affected people”.

Mufti described the Pakistani refugees settled in Jammu as a “human problem” but made it clear that the State government could not give them government jobs. He clarified that the livelihood boost as mentioned in the “Agenda for Alliance” means that his government would help the refugees in getting jobs in private sector.He said that a committee to be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh would address the whole gamut of the refugees problem even as the refugees from PoK would get “one-time settlement package”.

Mufti said that in absence of the Kashmiri Pandits, the valley’s social fabric was incomplete and his government would encourage the migrants’ return and settle them in community villages like Hall in Pulwma-Shopian belt where all of the deserted houses were standing intact. His government would create “an enabling peaceful environment”.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Omar says Mufti is dancing to the tunes from Nagpur

◆‘Agenda for Alliance is PDP’s total sell-out for power’

◆‘Let Cabinet revoke AFSPA, send file to Governor. Why bring Delhi in everything?’

◆‘Not a single Kashmiri has returned from Pak during Modi regime’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Jammu, March 19: Former Chief Minister and the opposition National Conference leader in the Legislative Assembly in the Indian-administered State of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, on Thursday alleged that the ruling People’s Democratic Party, which has formed the government in an alliance with Bharatya Janata Party, and its Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were taking diktats from Nagpur---headquarters of the Hindu fundamentalist outfit Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh [RSS], and undermining the State’ special constitutional status in exchange for power.

Speaking for about 50 minutes on Governor’s address and the ruling coalition’s Minimum Common Programme, titled “Agenda of Alliance”, in the Assembly, Abdullah maintained that Mufti and his PDP had compromised the Stat’s dignity and special status, besides the peoples’ interest, “only for gaining the power”. He asserted that Mufti had done total reversal of what he and other leaders of his party had been telling and promising the Kashmiris since 1999.

Abdullah pointed out that the coalition’s “Agenda of Alliance” carried nothing of the PDP’s plank of ‘Self Rule’ which Mufti’s party had been projecting as the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir crisis. “Where’s your Self Rule, joint control mechanism, double currency, release of political detainees et al ?”, Abdullah asked the Treasury Benches.

“We were worried that you would wipe us out and deny us even 5 seats in the next elections by holding the talks with the BJP for some time and finally withdrawing with the assertion that the BJP had no regard for the State’s special position and political aspiration. But we in the NC and Congress were relieved when you compromised everything for the Chief Minister’s chair for six years and the lion’s share of Ministries and portfolios”, Abdullah said in pin-drop silence in the Assembly all through his speech.

Taking exception to the Mufti government issuing an order for maintaining dignity of the State Flag on March 12 but revoking the same on March 13, Abdullah asked: “Why did you withdraw the order? What was the compulsion? Was there a call from Nagpur, from Jhandewallan [RSS’ Delhi headquarters] or from Delhi?” He blasted the official spokesman’s averment that the March 12 order had been issued by the officials without the competent authority’s [Chief Minister’s] approval. “I have been a Chief Minister. I know that none of the officials would ever dare to issue such an order without the CM’s approval”, he asserted.

Abdullah challenged Mufti to produce the concerned file in the Assembly. “It will become clear in one minute whether it had the competent authority’s approval or not. Otherwise also, we are going to bring out the truth through an application under RTI”, he added.

Abdullah read out from newspaper reports what Mufti, his daughter Mehbooba and other PDP leaders had said about BJP during the recent Assembly elections. He elaborated how all the PDP leaders, particularly Mufti and Mehbooba, had labelled Modi and his BJP as the rank communalists and ruled out any alliance with them for gaining power in J&K.

“How did BJP become secular and a Kashmir-friendly party overnight? How did you forget your agenda and the peoples’ interest overnight? Have the BJP and the RSS become less communal now? How did you abruptly forget your tantrums on the Gujarat bloodshed [of 2002] and the martyrdom of Babri Masjid? Hasn’t a senior BJP leader just the other day said that the mosques were no religious places and these could be demolished anytime? Aren’t they using the words of Ramzade and Haramzade? Is this the deal of dignity you have given the Kashmiris?”, Abdullah asked Mufti and his Ministers.

“I admit we lost the elections for we failed to realise the peoples’ aspirations. Still we didn’t face the total rout you had predicted for us. We got more than that. But why did you get stuck on 28? Where are the 41 seats you were boasting of during the elections? We were at the receiving end and you had all the advantages---2010 turmoil, Afzal Guru’s execution, 2014 flood”, Abdullah added. “Now that your government is there from Delhi to here, where’s the mention of the Rs 44,000 crore flood relief in the Union Budget?”

Abdullah argued that rather than getting any concession over withdrawal of AFSPA from the Centre, Mufti had given the Union government right of interference in the State’s sovereign jurisdiction. “I admit, my Congress colleagues didn’t lend me support and I failed to revoke AFSPA. Now that you have formed the government with BJP, you must be enjoying their support. If withdrawal of AFSPA is purely a State matter, why don’t you do it in your Cabinet and send its file to Governor. We will accept that you have done what nobody else could ever”, Abdullah addressed Mufti.

The former Chief Minister reminded Mufti Prime Minister’s recent statement in the Parliament wherein Modi made it categorically clear that his government was strictly committed to implementation of the two Parliamentary resolutions on J&K. Abdullah elaborated that the two resolutions contained India’s unequivocal affirmation to retrieving the entire J&K terrories from Pakistan’s illegal occupation. “Is that the concession you have got from BJP? Would Pakistan ever enter into a dialogue where it would be asked by India to return the occupied territories?”, Abdullah said while ridiculing PDP’s talk of addressing the State’s external dimension.

“Had you prevailed on BJP and got these resolutions amended in the Parliament, we would have recognised it as your biggest achievement. Such talks have yielded nothing for 60 years and would not yield anything in the hundreds of years to come”, Abdullah asserted. He said that over 350 families of the Kashmiri youths, who had gone to Pakistan to become militants but abandoned militancy, had returned to home during his regime under the policy his government introduced for return and rehabilitation of the reformed militants.

“But not a single family has returned since the day this NDA government assumed office”, Abdullah said, claiming that Modi’s government had virtually frozen the rehabilitation scheme. He also lashed out on PDP for saying for 6 years that over 10,000 youth had been detained under Public Safety Act by the Omar government . “Now the other day when Mehboobaji was asked at India Today Conclave about the political prisoners, she put their total number at 16. I ask you where did those thousands of detenus go. You haven’t released a single of them”.

Over a dozen members spoke in favour of or against the Governor’s address in Thursday’s debate which would conclude with Chief Minister Mufti’s detailed reply on Friday evening.


NC MLA Aga Ruhullah calls Modi ‘killer of Muslims’

‘Nobody expected PDP to impose these killers as rulers in the Muslim majority State of J&K’

 Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Jammu, March 19: Former Minister and National Conference’s three-time MLA from Budgam Aga Syed Ruhullah on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP as the “killers of the Gujarati Muslims” and launched scathing attacks on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Peoples Democratic Party for “collaborating with BJP” in securing power in Jammu and Kashmir.

“At least in this Muslim-majority State [of Jammu and Kashmir] nobody expected PDP to collaborate with BJP in assuming power. Nobody expected them to tie their knot to the Muslim-killer, Gujarat-killer Modi and his BJP, the people who brought the unborn babies out of the wombs of their mothers to kill them. Everybody thought that these people may grab power in any other Indian State but not in this Muslim-majority State where they deserved to be condemned. These are the people who use the obnoxious words like "Ramzade aur doosre zade". These are the people who say brazenly that mosques are not the places of worship and that these could be demolished anytime”, Ruhullah grumbled on the floor of the House while speaking over Governor’s address.

“Nobody imagined that PDP would be hand-in-glove with these people in grabbing for them power in this State. Everybody aspired that the killers would be dismissed as killers at least in this State where Muslims, unlike other States, are under no fear for being in majority. What was their weakness here? What made them endorse the politics of the killers and bring them as rulers here?”, Ruhullah went on amid pandemonium from the vociferous BJP MLAs.

BJP’s associate member and Minister of State Pawan Gupta, MLA Ravinder Raina and others staged a strong protest against Ruhullah’s remarks, stressing on Speaker Kavinder Gupta to fully expunge the NC MLA’s “un-Parliamentary speech”. “Modi is the Prime Minister of this country. He has been elected as Head of Government by a massive majority of the country’s electorate. We will not allow anybody to "denigrate the country’s Prime Minister in this House and the State”, Raina said. He demanded Ruhullah withdraw his statement and tender an apology in the House.

Even as the BJP MLAs claimed that the Speaker had assured them expunction of the NC MLA’s “objectionable remarks” about Prime Minister and BJP, no such statement was released from his office till late on Thursday. Secretary Assembly Mohammad Ramzan did not respond to repeated calls from mediapersons.


Speaking to mediapersons later outside the House, Raina asserted that BJP would in no circumstances do any compromise on its stand on Article 370 or the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “Let it be clear to one and all that BJP will never enter into dialogue with any separatists until they accept the sovereignty and integrity of this country. We can talk to anybody but strictly within the ambit of the Constitution”, Raina said.

The BJP legislator from Nowshehra castigated the NC and the Congress leaders for dragging RSS into every controversy in J&K. “It’s highly deplorable that these people are dragging the Sangh into political mess. Sangh (RSS) is a purely social organisation which is independently doing its job of social reform”, he said.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

‘State flag order had CM’s approval; was withdrawn under BJP’s pressure’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


Jammu, March 18: The controversial Circular No: 13 dated March 12, 2015, directing all the Constitutional authorities to hoist the State flag alongside the National flag on their offices and vehicles had been issued with the “written approval on file” of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who is competent authority as Minister incharge General Administration Department, top ranking bureaucratic sources said.

According to the highly placed government sources, Commissioner-Secretary GAD Mohammad Ashraf Bukhari obtained CM’s approval on March 11th and the Circular was subsequently issued on March 12th. This has been properly communicated to Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh who had publicly lamented that some government officials were “destabilising the PDP-BJP government” and called for a thorough inquiry and “strict action against the guilty”.

Sources claiming to be in possession of “documentary evidence” to establish that the Minister incharge GAD [CM] had accorded approval to the official draft, also vetted by the Chief Secretary, asserted that no government official or bureaucrat could dare to issue such a sensitive circular which had serious political implications. “It was withdrawn when BJP exerted considerable amount of pressure and contended that it could cause further embarrassment to the party which had had been already cornered by several quarters over the separatist hardliner Masarat Alam’s release”, said a source. “Rest assured there will be no administrative action against anybody. It was simply to oblige the coalition partner”.

“All the Constitutional Authorities are enjoined upon to maintain the sanctity of the State Flag, at all costs, as is being done in respect of the Union Flag. The Flag shall always be hoisted jointly on the buildings housing Constitutional Institutions and shall be used on the official cars of Constitutional Authorities. Any deviation in this regard shall amount to insult the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honors Act, 1979”, the Circular had said with references to the J&K Constitution and the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

However, it was dramatically withdrawn within 24 hours on March 13 with an official release which claimed that “the draft of the circular was not approved by the Competent Authority before issue of the same on 12th March, 2015 and as such stands withdrawn with immediate effect. Appropriate administrative action will be taken after enquiry into the circumstances leading to the issuing of this circular”.

In the last one week, there has been significantly neither an inquiry nor any action against the guilty. The “competent authority” has not rectified the lacuna by according necessary approval to the draft of the circular and no fresh notification has been issued to protect the sanctity of the State Flag.

The GAD officials refused to say anything on record but asserted that the “documentary evidence” of the competent authority’s approval to the draft of the March 12th Circular would be made public if the government contradicted their claim.


Two of BJP’s junior Ministers may be elevated to Cabinet 

·        Sajjad Lone likely to get Social Welfare portfolio

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Jammu, March 18: Even as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Tuesday assigned the portfolio of Panchayati Raj Institutions to the PDP leader and Minister of Rural Development Abdul Haq Khan, two of the coalition partner BJP’s junior Ministers are likely to be elevated to the Cabinet rank in near future.

Well-placed political sources revealed that the process of “balancing the distribution of Ministerial berths and portfolios between the coalition allies” was underway in the wake of discontentment in the BJP camp. As against PDP’s 11 Cabinet Ministers (including Chief Minister), BJP has currently just 6 Ministers (including the electoral ally Peoples Conference’s Sajjad Gani Lone) in the Cabinet. Besides, PDP has got 3 Ministers of State and BJP 5 (including associate member Pawan Gupta).

While as PDP had won 28 seats in the Assembly elections  and later an independent from Ladakh also aligned with it, BJP has 25 MLAs and three associate members. Aggregate number of the PDP-plus associates is 30 and BJP-plus associates is currently 29.

“Minister of State Ladakh Affairs Chering Dorje, who is holding the portfolio of Cooperative independently, as also MoS Rural Development and Horticulture Abdul Gani Kohli, who is retaining Transport independently, are likely to be elevated to the Cabinet rank. It could happen anytime in the current month”, said a top level BJP source. “Even this upgradation would not assuage the feelings of our cadres as PDP would still hold 11 Cabinet berths against the would-be 8 of BJP”, he said. He further disclosed that the party high command could request Forest Minister Bali Bhagat to spare his Social Welfare portfolio for Sajjad Lone who has not been reportedly content with the portfolios of Science & Technology and Animal Husbandry.

As regards the discontentment expressed silently by Minister of Horticulture Abdul Rehamn Veeri and vociferously by PDP’s MLA of Zadibal Maulvi Abid Ansari, sources ruled out any change of portfolios in the PDP camp. “Mufti Sahab has unequivocally made it clear to all concerned that there would be no change of portfolios of the PDP Ministers for one year”, said an insider.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Over a dozen NC, Congress loyalists shown the door in Mufti government's first administrative reshuffle

●B.R. Sharma becomes the most important bureaucrat after Chief Secretary Khanday.

●PDP loyalists get prize postings; Lateef Deva, Dev Lata, Riyaz Jan selected on merit

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Jammu, March 16: In partial withdrawal of Governor Narendra Nath Vohra's massive administrative reshuffle two months back, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's PDP-BJP government on Sunday replaced most of the National Conference and Congress loyalists by the officers and bureaucrats perceived to be loyal to the new ruling coalition, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party.

Commissioner - Secretary Revenue Vinod Kaul, whose father and senior Congress leader M.N. Kaul used to be Mufti's mentor in 1960s and 1970s, was of late known for his intimate relationship with top leaders of both NC as well as Congress. Former Chief Secretary and NC's ex-MLC Vijay Bakaya is known to be Kaul's promoter in bureaucracy. Kaul has been removed and placed in queue in General Administration Department for posting. Senior bureaucrats expect him to get another prize posting.

Yet another favourite of the NC-Congress coalition, Satesh Nehru, has been removed from the attractive posting of Secretary Housing & Urban Development to Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution [CAPD]---thought to be inferior when compared to Housing.

Senior IAS officer Suresh Kumar, who functioned as Principal Secretary Home for half of Omar Abdullah's government has been marginalised as DG IMPA. Senior IPS officer Dr B. Srinivas, who held the posting of IG CID for over 4 years of the previous government, has been shifted to the insignificant posting of IG Home Guard.

DC Baramulla Talat Pervez, Secretary Sports Council Daleep Thusu and Commissioner Jammu Municipal Corporation Kiran Watal, all "famous" for their proximity to senior Congress and NC leaders, have also been removed and put in the GAD queue for further posting.

Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation Dr Ghulam Nabi Qasba, DC Shopian Bashir Ahmad Bhat, who was aggressively promoted by former Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir in the previous regime, DC Kulgam Nisar Hussain Wani and Congress leader Aslam Goni's relative Shehnaz Goni, who was Chief Engineer Maintenance & Rural Electrification (Jammu), have also been removed and given insignificant slots.

Mukhtarul Aziz, known for his association with NC, had been appointed as Director Information in September 2014 reportedly to satisfy the ego of the senior NC leader and former Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, even as Omar Abdullah's government had chosen Soujanya Kumar for this posting in its last administrative reshuffle. Kumar was the choice of the former CM’s Principal Secretary B.B. Vyas.
Aziz also went to a court to protect his posting. In the shake up on Monday, he has been given an insignificant posting in Social Welfare Department.

On the other hand, over a dozen officers closely related to the PDP camp have managed to get prize postings. With an impressive track record, DC Ganderbal Sarmad Hafeez has been appointed as the new Vice Chairman of LAWWDA, the posting seniormost bureaucrats like Wajahat Habibullah held before retirement.

Munirul Islam, who has held a brief stint with Press Information Bureau of the Government of India prior to his joining the Kashmir Administrative Service, has been appointed as the new Director of Information. He was additional DC in Pulwama. He is known for his intimate relationship with a number of journalists.
Additional DC Srinagar Ghulam Mohammad Dar, enjoying good reputation, has been appointed as the new DC of Shopian.

In a significant development, a close relative of Farooq Abdullah’s sister, Tufail Matoo, has been yet again posted as Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, an important post from which he was once unceremoniously removed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in 2009.


Notwithstanding some appointments merely for political and bureaucratic clout, about a dozen incumbents have been picked up for key assignments on the basis of their merit and reputation. While as Commissioner-Secretary Health & Medical Education Gazanffer Hussain has been appointed as the new Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Dr Pawan Kotwal has been yet again appointed as Divisional Commissioner of Jammu.

B.R. Sharma, who is due to succeed Iqbal Khanday as Chief Secretary on the latter's retirement later this year and enjoys the reputation of being the most straightforward and non-controversial bureaucrat, has been given the additional charge of Principal Secretary Home and CEO of Economic Reconstruction Agency. He is currently Financial Commissioner Planning & Development.
Again on the basis of merit, Sharma's sister Dev Lata has been appointed as the new Chairperson of State Services Recruitment Board which is being refurbished with appointment of new members soon.

People of the State have particularly appreciated the appointment of Lateef-uz-Zamaan Deva as the Chairman of Public Service Commission as also that of Munshi Muzaffar and Indu Kelam as members. All the three are famous for their honesty and integrity. Deva has been picked up for the most important posting after Chief Secretary, inspite of the being the son of the National Conference stalwart late Abdul Salam Deva who defeated Mufti in Assembly elections in 1970s and 1980s.

Appointment of the senior advocate Reyaz Ahmad Jan as Advocate General and that of Soujanya Kumar as Commissioner JMC has also been widely appreciated.

In the concurrent reshuffle in Police, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani has been appointed as the new IGP of Kashmir and Dinesh Rana as IGP Jammu. Gillani is closely related to three Cabinet Ministers and a powerful family but sources in bureaucracy insist that his appointment was the result of his impressive service record. He has served as SSP Srinagar and DIG CBI before his repatriation to J&K in 2012 when he was appointed as IGP Crime. Gillani has the reputation of a no-nonsense police officer.

IGP Kashmir Abdul Gani Mir has been given the all-important posting of IG CID while as another influential officer Munir Khan has been appointed as IG Crime. JP Singh has been appointed as IG Traffic.