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Friday, December 18, 2015

Omar dismisses Govt’s claim on NFSA as ‘brazen lie’
‘Whither AFSPA revocation, jobs for youth, dialogue with separatists?’
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Dec 17: National Conference acting President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday claimed that he put his foot down against New Delhi’s plan of implementing the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Jammu and Kashmir even as his coalition partner Congress exerted considerable pressure on him for about two years. He asserted that he put up his resistance after he realised that the NFSA was not beneficial for the people of his State.
“For about two years, I resisted sustained pressure from the Centre. No less a person than the UPA Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi got angry with me. But I told them categorically that the Central law could not be implemented as it would not benefit the people of my State”, Omar said at a public meeting in Congress-held Shangus Assembly constituency in Anantnag district of South Kashmir. Earlier scheduled on November 24, NC’s Workers Convention in Shangus had been postponed due to the death of three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen in Tantraypora Siligam, near Mattan, on that day.
“I didn’t allow implementation of NFSA despite sustained pressure from our then alliance partner, Congress, because I knew the Act was against the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I said I won’t allow this law until I was convinced it would benefit my people”, Omar said. “When Mufti Sahab took over after his sell-out to the BJP, he patted on his own back over the implementation of the NFSA. His Ministers claimed it was the biggest miracle of the PDP-BJP Government. Today people are out on the roads in every nook and corner of the State and now Mufti Sahab’s Minister says that this was a decision taken by the previous Government. That’s a brazen lie. It is ridiculous. They should either own or disown NFSA”. He alleged that the government had created “unprecedented chaos and confusion” in the State with its own self-contradictory statements.
Omar said that the PDP leadership had dithered from all of its “sugar-coated promises and slogans” after assuming power in March this year.
“After seeking votes against the BJP during the elections Mufti Sahab went to embrace the BJP and said he was doing so for the benefit of the State and its people. We were given a fancy ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ where it was promise that Mufti Sahab would bring back the power projects, get AFSPA revoked, make New Delhi talk to the Separatists and get New Delhi to open additional trade and travel routes along the LoC. What happened to those promises Mufti Sahab? Today there is no talk of AFSPA revocation. Where are Mehbooba Mufti’s placards and protests on AFSPA today? It’s astonishing how PDP has changed its entire political persona and ideology to remain in power with the BJP”, Omar added. 
“During the Press interaction after the opening of the Secretariat, Mufti Sahab himself said that he couldn’t convince the Prime Minister on vital issues as the Chief Minister. OK Mufti Sahab, we won’t seek answers from you on those things that are in the hands of New Delhi and the Prime Minister but at least do justice to your own basic duties as the Chief Minister of this State. You have increased power tariffs and bills while decreasing the power supply. Electricity is nowhere to be seen – entire localities are plunged into long phases of darkness while the Chief Minister is either seen in Gulmarg or Pahalgam or in the company of a few business houses who he has bent rules for”, the NC President asserted.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Srinagar demand more rice, no NFSA

Shutdown, traffic jam, clashes mark day three of protests

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 16: State’s summer capital is boiling yet again----this time around for purely non-political purpose: Consumers in large numbers, with no political or civil society leadership, have begun demonstrating on the streets against the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government’s decision to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the special status State of Jammu and Kashmir. Their apprehension is that the enforcementof the Central law, which Omar Abdullah’s National Conference-Congress coalition categorically declined to implement, would not only deprive them of the ages-old subsidy but would also affect a drastic cut into the quantities of rice and flour they used to get under the previous public distribution system.

On the third consecutive day on Wednesday, hordes of the consumers, predominantly women, blocked the national highway bypass from Bemina to Shalteng. Traffic on the highway came to a standstill cumulating into a massive jam. Police did not interfere for several hours as Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar, according to highly placed sources, has already made it clear to the government that the belt force would not intervene into any peaceful demonstration. DGP has been repeatedly telling the civil authorities that resolution of such crises was exclusively their responsibility.

Consequently, traffic on the roads leading to Jammu, Anantnag, Baramull, Sopore, Uri, Kupwara and other areas in northern and southern Kashmir remained frozen for about four hours. The demonstrators demanded immediate revocation of the decision to implement NFSA as also continuance of the previous PDS system under which every APL and BPL family used to get 35 kilos of rice on subsidised rates per month.

Shops and businesses establishments remained shut down in Tengpora, parts of Batmaloo, Bemina, Parimpora, Shalteng and adjoining areas. Some of the consumers made a bonfire of their ration cards. They shouted anti-government slogans but avoided the traditional political slogans for azadi and against India and her security forces.

Contrary to the capital city outskirts, people in downtown Srinagar gathered at different places and they blocked roads while burning rubber tyres. At Habbakadal, Kralkhud, Tankipora, Zaindar Mohalla, Shaheed Gung and other places, demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans and clashed with Police and paramilitary forces. Even in Kohnakhan Dalgate, people put up a brief demonstration.

"They are cheating us in broad daylight in the name of NFSA. This is a great injustice to the consumers. They have already cheated us over flood relief and made our life miserable. Now they are going to deny us even the rice. They want us die of starvation. This is a conspiracy against us by Mufti’s and Modi's governments", Saleema of Shaheed Gunj complained to STATE TIMES.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar while reviewing the progress under National Food Security Act was informed that 86,085 consumers have obtained the digitalized forms and 17,769 fresh forms from the concerned Fair Price Shops/ Sale outlets. "All other consumers are requested to obtain the forms for correction/authentication immediately and return the same by 18th December 2015 positively so that their correct particulars are reflected in the database", said an official release.

"The consumers are once again informed that Adhar Card Number is not mandatory and the forms will be received back at the concerned FP Shops/Sale Outlets without Adhar Card Number. In case of any difficulty the consumers may contact concerned Assistant Director, CAPD North/South Srinagar", it said.

As per the schedule notified the preliminary list shall be displayed at the respective Fair Price Shops and sale outlets on December 22 and objections to the preliminary lists by general public shall be received upto December 26.



November 24, 2011: J&K Cabinet vide its decision No: 202/25/2011 dated: 24-11-2011 gave concurrence to the Government of India’s proposal for implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA) in J&K.

September 10, 2013: After being passed by the Parliament, Government of India notified the National Food Security Act- 2013 on 10 September 2013 for implementation across the country.

December 2, 2015: The State Cabinet in its meeting convened on 2 December 2015 approved implementation of NFSA in Jammu and Kashmir. As per the Cabinet decision, NFSA is to be implemented throughout J&K from 1 February 2016.

◆With the implementation of NFSA, 119.13 lakh souls (95% population) in J&K shall be covered under subsidized rations.

◆Out of 119.13 lakh souls, 13.77 lakh souls falling under AAY category shall get rations at the rate of Rs 2 per kg (atta) and Rs 3 per kg (rice). The scale of 35 kgs per family shall be maintained in AAY category irrespective of the number of souls in each family.

◆Under BPL category, 26.49 lakh souls will get rations at the rate of Rs 2 per kg (atta) and Rs 3 per kg (rice) with every member of a family entitled to get 5 kgs ration.

◆Under Priority Class, 33.87 lakh souls will get rations at the rate of Rs 2 per kg (atta) and Rs 3 per kg (rice) with every member of a family entitled to get 5 kgs ration.

◆In the Non-Priority Category, 45 lakh souls will get rations at the subsidized rate of Rs 8 (atta) and Rs 10 (Rice) with every member of a family entitled to get 5 kgs ration.

◆A small chunk of population of around 6 lakh souls comprising persons with income of more than Rs 25 lakh per annum, persons holding constitutional positions including Ministers and Legislators, employees of the State and the Central Government in the Gazetted Cadre and a person owning more than 80 kanals of land individually or 250 kanals of land in joint family shall be kept out of NFSA. For such families food-grains would be made available on OMSS (Open Market Sale Scheme) rates.

◆Any person who is, due to some reason, denied ration, will be given food security allowance

◆Under the existing dispensation only 18.02 lakh families comprising a population of 99 lakh souls are covered under Public Distribution System (PDS) in J&K while NFSA will cover 22.73 lakh families comprising a population of 119.13 lakh souls.

◆Implementation of NFSA shall usher an era of assured supply of highly subsidized rations to the citizens of J&K at their doorstep in a transparent manner.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Youth tortured, shot dead by militants in Shopian 

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz 

SRINAGAR, Dec 14: A 24-year-old man has been severely tortured and shot dead by suspected militants in Shopian area of South Kashmir.

Informed sources said that Rasikh Ahmad Khan son of Ghulam Hassan Khan, who used to run a photocopying unit at Imam Sahib, not far away from his village Wasuhalan, was found dead in an orchard in Turkawangam village in Shopian-Zainapora belt of South Kashmir on Monday. He had been tied to the trunk of walnut tree before being shot dead with an AK-47 rifle a little after last midnight.

Absence of a protest demonstration in Imam Sahib area was an indication that Khan was believed to have been killed by separatist militants. However, no militant organisation accepted responsibility of his assassination till late on Monday night. Reports said that the slain youth's funeral was conducted without some routine rituals which are usually dispensed with only in the burial of martyrs. "Around 2,000 people participated in the funeral procession, though there were neither any allegations nor an expression of anger against any specific group or individual.

DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar told STATE TIMES that he himself visited the village and perceived remarkable anger against the militants among the residents. He claimed that Khan was not a counterinsurgent source working for Police or security forces. "Hizbul Mujahideen's Waseem Malla group has suffered some reverses at out hands in the last few months. We have reports that the guerrilla organisation held so-called inquiry into some encounters, slapped charges of passing on information about the militants on Rasikh Khan and shot him dead. But I am sure he was never an informant with Police or security forces", DIG Nitish Kumar said.

SSP Shopian Altaf Khan said that Rasikh Khan was found dead with two AK-47 gunshots on his chest. "His heart had ripped off and he seemed to have died after last midnight", SSP said. He said he was optimistic of getting a breakthrough in this assassination "within 7 to 10 days". "It is 100% the handiwork of Waseem Malla's group. I am sure within a week we will know why he was shot dead and who were his killers", SSP added. He claim that Khan had no political, militant or counterterrorist background.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Ministers, HODs plant unauthorised ‘Liaison Officers’ at Srinagar airport

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Dec 13: Purely for their personal comfort and convenience, different Ministers, Heads of Departments and government organisations have planted a platoon of unauthorised ‘Liaison Officers’ in flagrant violation of the security guidelines at the country’s most sensitive airport in Srinagar.

STATE TIMES learned from well-placed official sources said that a number of Ministers, bureaucrats, HoDs and government organisations and undertakings have picked up different select officers functioning under their administrative control and planted them inside the terminal building of Srinagar Airport only to facilitate their own and their families’ arrival and departure besides comfortable passage to and from the airport.

Army, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Northern Railways, Department of Tourism and now also Forest Department are among the departments and organisations who have ‘informally’ posted so-called Liaison Officers without orders and proper authorisation at Srinagar airport.

Sources revealed that the task of these ‘Liaison Officers’ was limited to arranging tickets and ‘VIP seats’, collection of boarding passes, hassle-free entry and passage through security checkpoints, scanning of luggage besides ensuring sitting in the cosy VIP lounges and  collection and carriage of luggage of their senior officers, bureaucrats and Ministers and their families. Some of them are seen even helping in the catering services.

According to the officials, providing all these facilities besides protocol to the persons mentioned in the Order of Precedence and Protocol, is the job of the SSP Anti-hijacking who has adequate staff at his command and disposal. Even the chain of coordination breaks because of multiple lateral interventions.

Notwithstanding this ‘extracurricular’ arrangement, two judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court landed in an embarrassing situation recently when their car, on way to Srinagar airport, was stopped by checking by Police outside Humahama gate. Budgam Police as well as the anti-hijacking staff and CRPF maintained that they had no information of the two senior High Court judges’ passage to the airport. Later, the ‘liaison officer’, who holds the rank of a Chief Judicial Magistrate, made it clear that he had not passed on information of the two the judges’ passage to the airport authorities as he had been advised to keep their visit a closely-guarded secret.

All the so-called liaison officers, including a judge, keep on shuttling and roaming between one place to another as none of them, with the exception of the Tourism Department’s ‘Liaison Officer’, has a room or a chair to sit. “Since there’s no provision for such deployment, we can’t provide to them rooms and chairs. We see them in pitiable conditions during bad weather but we are helpless”, SSP Anti-hijacking Manzoor Ahmad Dalal said. He asserted that only the Department of Tourism had the sitting and waiting facilities inside the Terminal Building. He, however, insisted that the ‘Liaison Officers’ “do not enter the Terminal Building” and they coordinate all the arrangements from outside.

Well-placed sources nevertheless maintained that all the ‘Liaison Officers’ are “regularly seen escorting the officers, bureaucrats and Ministers of their respective departments and organisations within the Terminal Building including in spaces beyond the Security check-in points. “Every single movement is properly recorded on our CCTVs”, said an official. He disclosed that even the officials and their family members, not entitled to any special treatment, are seen seated inside the VIP Lounges.

Latest inclusion is an officer of the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forest who escorts and sees off Forest Minister Bali Bhagat and also makes all arrangements related to his visit and comfortable passage. Forest Department’s records do not contain any formal order to such a deputation. Remarkably, Forest Department has been suffering the worst human resource deficit as the State Government has made only one recruit of ACFs (in 2011) after 1984.  While as more than 70% of the substantive posts of gazetted officers in Forest and its related departments are held by “incharge” officials for years in brazen violation of Supreme Court of India directions, just 40 ACFS and 9 Range Officers (Grade-I) were appointed in 2011. Unauthorised deployment of the ACF has made the department poorer by another officer.

“If the Ministers and bureaucrats want to formalise this system of protocol for themselves and their families, they must amend the laws and rules and create the posts of Liaison Officers in a proper manner. As of now, this system is completely illegal and unauthorised”, said a bureaucratic source in General Administration Department (GAD). He admitted on condition of anonymity that the working of several departments was suffering due to unauthorised deployments of the officers.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

J&K Police blind to VIP culture ?

Driving on a street to Srinagar, I suddenly heard hooter of a VIP car commanding me and other ordinary citizens to clear the way. I thought it was an ambulance rushing a patient to a hospital. Then I perceived it as a High Court judge’s cavalcade. I swerved to the left and cleared the way. During the taking over of the white colour private “VIP vehicle”, I found it was neither an ambulance nor a High Court judge but a leader---a leader of azadi who raps, rapes and demonises India religiously five times a day. I saw Traffic Police bowing their heads in awe. J&K Traffic Police may laugh it away as a joke but it is a brazen violation to the following Supreme Court of India order, delivered by Justice GS Singhvi and Justice C Nagappan on December 10, 2013, in Special Leave Petition(C) No: 23984/2010 titled Abhay Singh v/s State of Uttar Pradesh and others. The order puts a blanket ban on all kinds of red and other special lights, flags, horns and hooters of vehicles except some constitutional dignitaries. J&K IG Traffic has said on oath in the court that all these unauthorised insignia and horns have been removed from all vehicles. Intellectuals and writers cannot be expected to watch it all like mute spectators with an encomium for Traffic Police.

See the Supreme Court order:

“No motor vehicles except those specified in Rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or similar provisions contained in the rules framed by the State Governments or the Administration of Union Territories shall be fitted with multi-toned horns giving a succession of different notes or with any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise”.