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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sajjad Lone’s mall, Khidmat building among 17 business complexes sealed

SMC swung into action after High Court warned framing of rule against Commissioner

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 1: Following a strict direction from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has sealed as many as 17 business complexes for different violations of the building permissions in the upscale neighbourhoods of the summer capital on Monday and Tuesday. The shopping malls, hotels and other commercial complexes sealed in the major drive include a business centre of the prominent separatist-turned-mainstream politician and Minister of Animal Husbandry Sajjad Gani Lone and a major property owned by the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC).

Commissioner SMC Showkat Ahmad Zargar told STATE TIMES that a Division Bench of the J&K High Court, comprising Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Mr Justice Ali Mohammad Magray, had last week warned to frame rule against him in case he failed to seal all the unauthorised buildings, figuring in a list, within a particular framework. “It’s clear that we are not going to listen to anybody, whosoever, other than the High Court. We have sealed 17 complexes on Monday and Tuesday and we are proceeding against two or three more tomorrow”, Zargar said.

The SMC team headed by Chief Enforcement Officer Manzoor Ahmad Tarray sealed a multi-storeyed commercial complex, registered in the names of the Peoples Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone’s 8-year-old twins Emaad and Adnan at Sanat Nagar, for violation of the space earmarked for the parking facility. Mr Lone had raised another business joint, titled Just Baked, on the premises without necessary permission from BOCA. SMC proceed after the proprietor failed to respond to a notice served on him last week.

This is probably for the first time in the last many years that a sitting Cabinet Minister’s property has been sealed in J&K for violations by the municipal authorities, albeit under court orders in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

In the year 2008, a local NGO ‘Consumer Welfare Association’ had filed a PIL in J&K High Court in an attempt to make the authorities accountable for removing bottlenecks that cause menacing traffic jams in the State’s summer capital. During the course of the hearing, it was pointed out that SMC had granted a large number of building permissions for hotels, commercial complexes and shopping malls in violation of rules and no space had been reserved for parking of the vehicles of the shopkeepers and visitors.

It was also appointed out that many of the influential businesspersons and traders had secured building permissions on the undertaking that they would reserve a particular area for parking but after making their businesses operational, they had used even that space for commercial purposes. Consequently, most of the vehicles remained parked on the thorough fares resulting in huge traffic jams.

After years of hearing, DB directed to carry out a survey in which it was observed that owners and proprietors of 32 complexes had resorted to brazen violations. Notices were served on them for necessary restorations. During this process, some of them restored the parking spaces. The DB’s warning to Commissioner SMC came after it was alleged that the municipal authorities had turned a blind eye to a grave human problem. Commissioner was directed last week to complete the sealing process within a framework or else be prepared to face charge of contempt.

Significantly, the multi-storeyed complexes sealed by the SMC include Khidmat Building, a property of the JKPCC-run Khidmat Trust. Situated at Abi Guzar, behind Mushtaq Press Enclave, this building houses the offices of Congress party’s official organ, the bilingual daily Khidmat and its printing presses which are also used for printing of around 20 Urdu and English newspapers. Chambers of some advocates, offices and business establishments of different traders also operate from the same complex.

Close to Khidmat, the SMC team sealed three-storeyed building complex of Ghulam Mohiuddin Wani and three-storeyed Bakhtawar Plaza at Regal Chowk in Civil Lines. Eminent nephrologist Dr Munir Khan’s Kidney Hospital, registered in the name of his son Naveed Khan, was also sealed at Sonwar.

At Munnawarabad, the SMC team sealed four-storeyed guesthouse and hotel complex of Asrar Sharief Matoo and three-storeyed guesthouse and shopping complex of Altaf Hussain Mir.

Merajuddin Charu’s, Pritpal Singh’s, Zamir Ahmad Thakur’s and Ghulam Rasool Kuchai’s complexes were sealed respectively at Exhibition Road, Gogjibagh, Maharaja Bazar and Humhama.

A five-storeyed shopping mall and hotel complex, which is the property of Baba Dharam Das Temple Trust, registered in the name of a mahant Lala Jai Ram, was sealed at Barbarshah. The construction of this major complex had been already stayed by different courts as the owners and the lease-holders have been in crosshairs of litigation for over three years. One of the most prominent contractors of the State, who has also functioned as a Minister and MP, is reportedly a partner of the shopping complex and the hotel coming up at a prime location in uptown.

DD’s ex-DDG Rafeeq Masoodi booked for fraudulent appointments

Misuse of official position confirmed in illegal appointments as Secretary Cultural Academy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 1: Upon confirmation of the misuse of his official position as Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, in the preliminary verification of illegal appointments, former Deputy Director General of Doordarshan Dr Rafeeq Masoodi has been booked in a criminal base by the State Vigilance Organisation.

The Vigilance Organization has booked the then Secretary J&K Academy of Art Culture & languages Shri Rafiq Ahmed Masoodi and others in case FIR No.34/2015 P/S VOJ U/S 5(1)(d) r/w section 5(2) J&K P.C Act Svt. 2006 and section 120-B RPC into the allegations of illegal appointments of Orderlies, Chowkidars, Gardeners and Sweepers  in J&K Academy of Art Culture & Languages by abusing his official position in active criminal conspiracy with the beneficiaries and others in utter violation of rules and regulations during the year 2006”, an official release from Vigilance Organisation on Tuesday said.

The verification conducted reveals that one post of Gardener was advertised vide employment notice No: Adm-E/12/2002-04/3079-3113 Dated 22-09-2003. It was found that 19 candidates were appointed as Chowkidars, Orderlies, Gardeners and Sweepers whereas only one candidate out of these had applied on due date. The applications of other candidates for these posts were found without date and postal orders which was mandatory. 

The verification further revealed that the evaluation sheets prepared by the interview committee had some over-writing and name of one selected candidate did not figure in the evaluation sheets prepared by the interview committee. Even one of the candidates was not a permanent resident of J&K State.  It has been further observed that undue favours had been conferred upon the beneficiaries who had not even applied in time and did not fulfil the requisite formalities as per the advertisement.

“During verification, it has also been found that two posts of Junior Assistants were also advertised vide employment notice quoted above and against these posts 10 candidates have been appointed, whereas only three candidates had submitted their application forms with postal orders before cut-off date and rest of them had submitted their application forms without postal orders. Some of the candidates have even exceeded the maximum age limit. The  services of the candidates appointed illegally have subsequently been regularised and some were even promoted on higher posts”, the official release said.

“By acting in this manner, Shri Rafiq Ahmed Masoodi the then Secretary Academy of Art, culture and Languages in league with the beneficiaries has abused his official position and has thereby conferred undue benefit upon the beneficiaries. Investigation of the case has been taken-up”, it added.

After serving as Secretary of Cultural Academy for about three years on deputation from Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation of India, Dr Masoodi was appointed as Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar. Significantly, involving about two years of his posting as Director DDK Srinagar, CBI and DD’s Vigilance Department registered at least four FIRs and inquiries against Dr Masoodi. He is facing charges of corruption and misuse of official position in the organisation.

However, till his retirement from service last year, fate of all the FIRs and departmental vigilance inquiries against him was not known to anybody. Notwithstanding all these FIRs and inquiries, former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad selected Dr Masoodi for the prestigious State Award (not in any specific category) which was later given away to him at an investiture ceremony by Governor N.N. Vohra in presence of former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Governor and then Chief Minister ignored all the criminal cases registered against Masoodi besides eye-opening newspaper reports on his omissions and commissions as a senior officer of the Central and the State governments.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Two years after retirement, Ashiq Bukhari getting IPS

Kashmir's ace counterinsurgent returning to Police service as DIG

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Nov 30: Top counterterrorism expert Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, who had retired from Jammu and Kashmir Police service as Senior Superintendent of Police in January 2014, is likely to join back as Deputy Inspector General of Police as the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has granted him induction into Indian Police Service (IPS) and ordered that his seniority as SP should be fixed from the date he began officiating as SP in Budgam district.

Consequently, Bukhari will get two more years of service and his placement is being fixed between DIG Central Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and DIG CID Headquarters Syed Kifayat Haider.

Dismissing the objections of the retired SSP Amjad Pervez Mirza, High Court has declared Bukhari as SP on a substantive position from the day he had officiated as SP Budgam while holding the posting of Additional SP of Special Operations Group (SOG) in Budgam. Following the pronouncement of judgment in a service writ petition, Home Department of Government of Jammu and Kashmir has approached Union Public Service Commission with the plea that Bukhari may be treated as inducted into IPS with the seniority granted to him by the court and his year of IPS allotment may be fixed as 2000.

UPSC is understood to have taken up the matter in turn with the union Department of Personnel & Training and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that regulates the IPS. Since the respondent State is clearly in favour of Bukhari and the Home Department under Chief Minister's direct control has decided not to move an appeal against the retired officer, it is likely that Government of India would issue necessary orders in his favour in the next one or two weeks.

On January 31, 2014, Bukhari had reached superannuation as a KPS officer on attaining age of 58 years. It happened two months before the Omar Abdullah government raised the retirement age of the State services employees from 58 to 60 years. 

Induction into IPS would give two more years of service to Bukhari besides his elevation to the rank of DIG by virtue of his fresh fixation of the seniority as SP.

As and when the Centre would issue an order, Bukhari would be eligible to join back as DIG. Since his new date of superannuation (31-01-2016) is just two months away, he is likely to join and serve for a day and take voluntary retirement from service. That will give him entitlement to all the pensionary bebefits as DIG.

Well placed sources in the government told STATE TIMES that Bukhari could be immediately thereafter adjusted as a member or head of a board or a commission owing to his proximity and known loyalty to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

With his unmatched profile on counterterrorism front, Bukhari has served as SSP of Budgam, Anantnag and Srinagar districts besides brief tenures as SP CIK, AIG Provisions at Police Headquarters and SSP Crime Branch. I 1997, he was the first Kashmiri Muslim Police officer who volunteered to join the counterterrorist SOG, then known as Soecial Task Force (STF). He has to his credit elimination and arrest of over 300 Kashmiri militants.