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Monday, March 14, 2016

STATE TIMES exclusive: Ujala or Andhera?

Rs 96 lakh collected for regularisation of SSA employees; purportedly paid to ex-Commissioner Education, ex-Dir SSA

Governor’s Advisor orders enquiry, matter being referred to Vigilance Organisation for registration of FIR

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Mar 13: Governor’s Advisor incharge Education, Parvez Dewan, has ordered a Departmental Enquiry into a serious complaint of corruption, according to which, some contractual employees and trade union leaders of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have allegedly collected an amount of Rs 96 lakh from the temporarily engaged officials for regularisation of their services and a part of the collection has purportedly gone to the former Commissioner-Secretary of Education Mrs Naseema Lankar and former Project Director of SSA Khursheed Ahmad Rishi.

During a public hearing last week, a delegation of the SSA contractual employees complained to Mr Dewan that three particular contractual employees, who are also operating as ‘trade union leaders’ of their organisation, Jammu and Kashmir Contractual Employees Association, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (JKCEASSA), had collected an amount of Rs 96 lakh from the employees purportedly for ‘regularisation of services’. While as the services of the complainant employees were not confirmed as per the commitment made to them, the money was not returned to them either.

The complaint signed by Assistant Programmers and Data Entry Operators claimed that the JKCEASSA President Mohammad Shafi Peer, who is working as Steno/Typist on contractual basis in the SSA Directorate, collected “Rs 35,000, Rs 40,000, Rs 45,000 per head” from almost all contractual employees of SSA with the collaboration of contractual Machine Operator Imtiyaz Ahmad Peer with the commitment that their services would be regularised after the money would be paid to different officers and bureaucrats.

Two more SSA officials, namely Mohammad Akbar and Tariq Ahmad, who worked in the offices of Chief Education Officers of Jammu, Baramulla and Kupwara, helped the Peer duo in collection of the purported bribe money which, incredibly, was deposited in joint account of Mohammad Shafi Peer and Arjun Singh in the Moving Branch of Civil Secretariat. When services of the employees were not regularised and they demanded the money back, Mohammad Shafi Peer and Imtiyaz Ahmad Peer told them that they had already paid Rs 58 lakh of it to some officers. Thereupon the Peer duo demanded fresh collection of Rs 58 lakh at the rate of Rs 35,000 from each potential beneficiary.

“The trio spent the entire sum of Rs 96 lacs on their personal benefits and on our constant insisting, they have demanded an additional sum of Rs 35,000/ per employee in order to facilitate another kitty of Rs 58.50 lacs paid to Secretary Education Mr. Neasma Lanker (sic.) who is not now-a-days in service. She according to them left the service by leaving sanctioning the aforesaid regularization case”, reads the complaint.

“Similarly during the year 2008-09, the above two mentioned officials working in the (SSA) Directorate as a whole on contractual basis for implementation of Order No: 215-Ujala of 2009 dated 15/10/2009. Out of Rs 7.00 lacs, 5.50 lacs was paid to Ex. State Project Director namely Khursheed Ahmad Rishi. The same money that they collected was deposited into Civil Secretariat Moving Branch of J&K Bank under Account No:  0110040100018431, Joint Account of Mr Shafi and Arjun Singh”, adds the complaint accessed by STATE TIMES.

The complainants urged Mr Dewan to help them in returning the amount of Rs 96 lakh to the poor contractual employees and also refer the matter for criminal cognizance, investigation and determination of culpability to an investigating agency. They gave an undertaking that they would provide documentary proofs and cooperate with the investigation agency.

However, according to highly placed bureaucratic sources, Mr Dewan referred the complaint to Director School Education Kashmir Dr Shah Faesal for a preliminary Departmental Enquiry before registration of FIR by Vigilance Organisation. Mr Dewan did not respond to phone calls when this newspaper attempted to learn why the matter of serious nature, supported by signed receipts of the collections, had not been directly referred to Vigilance Organisation that normally holds its own preliminary verification before registration of FIR.

While Khursheed Ahmad Rishi was not accessible by telephone, Mrs Naseema Lankar claimed that she had “absolutely no knowledge” of this matter or the characters mentioned as the complainants or those who had allegedly collected the money. “I have absolutely no idea of this matter. There is no question of my having received any money”, she told STATE TIMES. Both Mr Rishi and Mrs Lankar have retired from service.

Director School Education Kashmir Dr Shah Faesal confirmed to have received this complaint from Advisor Parvez Dewan.

“I have been directed to conduct a preliminary departmental enquiry. I am working on it. I am calling the complainants and the accused for recording and scrutinising their statements. I will accordingly submit my report to the Government”, Dr Faesal said. However, top bureaucratic sources said that it was none of DSE’s business to hold any enquiry as it was a matter of “serious criminal involvement that should have been directly referred to Vigilance Organisation for PV and registration of FIR”.

“Yes, this is a matter of blatant extortion. If established, I will refer it to Vigilance Organisation for criminal determination and prosecution”, Dr Faesal asserted.


[Published in today’s State Times]

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