Total Pageviews

Saturday, May 14, 2016


How Kashmiri youth was framed in drug case to extort money from NRI family
J&K Police officer bargained ‘clean chit’ with NRI family in USA with the help of a businessman friend; filed FIR hastily when IGP intervened

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz/ Vivek Sharma

JAMMU, May 13: On March 7 this year, Jammu Police claimed to have arrested “two drug peddlers”, namely Rajbeer Singh and Sameer Ahmad Mir, residents of Baramulla at a naka on Jammu-Delhi national highway. It claimed to have recovered from their Wagon R, JK02AL-2298, 6500 intoxicating capsules and 65 bottles of banned syrup. It said that the naka was laid on “specific information” and FIR No: 51/2016 under sections 8, 21 and 22 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act was registered against the two detainees at Bahu Fort Police Station. “During questioning, the drug peddlers revealed that consignment was brought from outside the State for sale among the youth in Jammu district”.

Weeks later, STATE TIMES learned that three, not two, persons were travelling in the vehicle when it was intercepted during a routine checking, not on any specific information, on March 5th  at 11.30 pm, not on March 7th at 10.50 pm, at Kunjwani Chowk, not at Bala Chowk Kunjwani, as shown in the Police records. While investigating further, it became clear that head of Narwal Police Post, Sub Inspector Mehmood Khan, held the duo in wrongful confinement without disclosing their “arrest” for two days and with the help of a Kashmiri businessman friend, Haseeb Tramboo, the Police officer bargained Rajbeer Singh’s “clean chit” with his NRI family based in Cleveland, United States of America.

The FIR was filed hastily, around 48 hours later, on March 7th, when the NRI family in Cleveland contacted an immigrant from Jammu, Ms Bindu, who called her school days class-fellow, Mr Danish Rana---currently Inspector General of Police Jammu--- and sought his help in release of Rajbeer Singh. In minutes of IGP’s call to SSP Jammu, SI Mehmood Khan sensed that the matter had been taken up with the higher authorities.  He did not lose a second to file the FIR.

Even as the recording of Mr Khan’s and Mr Tramboo’s call, which is available with STATE TIMES, was provided to senior Police officials earlier this month, no enquiry or any other action has been initiated against the Police officer and his businessman friend, bringing into question J&K Police’s system of taking cognizance and making the delinquent officials accountable.

During the course of investigation, Rajbeer’s relatives revealed that his brother Harjot Singh was settled in Cleveland along with parents and brother-in-law Summerpreet Singh. They are running a business in stores. Rajbeer, who lived at his house in Baramulla during summer and his house in Nanak Nagar during winter, was also planning to move to USA after completing a course in computer sciences.

In Jammu, Rajbeer developed friendship with one Joginder and invested Rs 1.50 lakh in his ice cream business. On March 3rd, Rajbeer left for New Delhi in his Wagon R, alongwith Joginder and another Baramulla-based youth Sameer. Rajbeer’s vehicle met with an accident at Patiala where he left back his Wagon R and travelled to Delhi by a taxi to catch up with a woman friend. Joginder followed him after repairing the vehicle and joined him at a hotel in Pahargunj area. On March 4th, Rajbeer and Joginder purchased some cooling equipment for latter’s ice factory. On March 5th, on their return, they were stopped by a Police party at Kunjwani Chowk, falling in jurisdiction of Gangyal Police Station.

While Rajbeer and Sameer were held at Narwal Police Post, Joginder was let off without questioning, leading to suspicions about his working for Police secretly. He moved out with three compressors, one AC plate besides a bag of Haldi and a packet of milk. Khan established contact with a number of Rajbeer’s relatives through businessman friend Haseeb Tramboo who reportedly operates business from Narwal. Rajbeer’s relatives revealed that money was straightaway demanded with the assurance that the boy would be left off the frame and let off.

“Since the demand ranged between Rs 5.00 lakh and Rs 10.00 lakh, we requested them to talk directly to Rajbeer’s brother and other family members in USA”, said one of his relatives in Jammu.

Sometime on March 7th, a telephonic conversation for 19 minutes and 20 seconds happened between the phones of Tramboo (in Jammu) and Harjot (in Cleveland). Tramboo facilitated SHO’s direct conversation with Rajbeer’s brother Harjot and Harjot’s brother-in-law Summerpreet Singh. Sub Inspector Khan told Harjot that his relatives in Jammu had “unnecessarily highlighted and delayed too much” and documentation of the case had happened. He clarified to Harjot that he could not help if his relatives continued to “highlight” it to senior officers and media.

“We are ready to do anything for Rajbeer’s release as he is supposed to reach USA shortly. We can pay money”, Harjot said. “No, there’s no issue of money. Money we will see later. For now, you should concentrate on bail”, SHO retorted. Both, Khan and Tramboo, explained to Harjot and Summerpreet that Police would make “a favourable report” that would facilitate Rajbeer’s release on bail. Tramboo assured the family that he would use the services of his family firm and engage the best criminal lawyers but made it clear that it all could be done only after the matter would be settled with the Police officer.

Tramboo further assured fellow residents of Baramulla and classmates, Harjot and Summerpreet, that he would drop Rajbeer at International Airport in New Delhi where he would board a US-bound flight.

However, before the exchange of money would be fixed and executed, Rajbeer’s family in USA sought help from one Ms. Bindu with the expectation that her intervention through IGP Jammu would ensure the detainee’s release in a legal manner. It proved counter-productive as Bahu Fort Police immediately booked Rajbeer and Sameer in the FIR under NDPS. On March 31, 2016, case was challaned in court of First Additional District Judge Jammu. Rajbeer and Sameer are in District Jail Amphalla in Jammu.


[Published in Saturday’s STATE TIMES]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

BCAS orders inquiry into Indigo Airline’s security breach at Srinagar airport

Chief Security Officer of AAI caught travelling on junior’s boarding card

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 11: Even as efforts are underway to hush up the matter of a major security breach of Indigo Airlines at Srinagar Airport, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has ordered an inquiry to learn how Chief Security Officer of Airports Authority of India (AAI) travelled from Srinagar to New Delhi on a subordinate official’s boarding card.

Different security and intelligence agencies on monitoring and surveillance at the country’s most sensitive airport have reported to their respective headquarters that on April 1st, 2016, AAI’s CSO Tilak Raj Guglani boarded Indigo Airline flight 6E 436, minutes before its departure at 1400 hours and travelled to New Delhi on the boarding pass of his junior official Vimal Kumar. It has been pointed out that this kind of travelling is not only criminal in nature but also a serious security breach.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that BCAS has ordered an inquiry by Amritsar-based Deputy Commissioner Ashitosh Vasist. Mr Vasist travelled to Srinagar and had a series of interactions with different officials of various agencies, besides the Indigo Airlines staff. However, he is understood not to have submitted his report to BCAS in the last seven weeks.

Some officials privy to the development insisted that efforts were afoot to hush up the matter even as four employees of Indigo Airlines had been briefly removed from duty and placed under suspension. Sources identified the officials suspended as Assistant Manager Mohammad Nadeem, Farhat, Syed Asif and Mudassar who were reportedly on duty beside the aircraft and had stamped Tilak Raj’s boarding card, drawn in the name of Vimal Kumar, even after noticing that it did not have the signatures of the anti-hijacking officials on duty.

“It’s an extremely serious lapse that can warrant cancellation of the private airline’s license to operate at this sensitive airport. Anti-hijacking staff (a component of Security Wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police) got suspicious of the unusual conversation between Tilak Raj and Indigo staff at the boarding point. When it became clear to them that AAI’s CSO had boarded the aircraft on a different official’s boarding card, they tried to stop it but the plane had started movement for departure at the tarmac. The AHJ staff immediately brought it to the notice of SSP Anti-hijacking Manzoor Ahmad Dalal, who, in turn, alerted his senior officials.

Indigo Airline’s Station Manager at Srinagar Airport Aasiya Bashir picked up the telephone from this newspaper. When she was asked about the incident, she dropped the phone. She did not respond to phone calls when STATE TIMES repeatedly tried to contact her for a comment. Assistant Manager Mohammad Nadeem picked up the call but insisted that no such incident had taken place at Srinagar Airport.

“I think you have received totally wrong information. There’s no AAI official by the name of Tilak Raj posted at this airport” Mohammad Nadeem maintained. He claimed that neither he nor anyone else of his staff had been placed under suspension.

SSP Anti-hijacking Manzoor Ahmad Dalal, however, confirmed to STATE TIMES that Chief Security Officer of AAI Mr Tilak Raj had been found travelling from Srinagar to New Delhi on April 1st on an Indigo Airlines flight on the boarding card of his junior official Vimal Kumar. “Our surveillance staff noticed his movement and brought it to our notice. Indigo has perhaps initiated some action against its staff but I have learned that BCAS has ordered an inquiry and DC Mr Vasist is conducting it. He may be having the details”, Mr Dalal asserted. “A sword is definitely dangling on the head of Indigo Airlines for this security breach”, he added.

According to Mr Dalal, it was quite usual for AAI’s CSO and other AAI officers to move in the operational area while wearing their I-cards. However, it was for the first time that someone of them, who are ironically posted to pre-empt such breaches and violations, boarded the aircraft at the eleventh hour while making misuse of his official position and a private airlines staff failed to turn him back. Another official said that it was only the CSO who issues security passes to all concerned. “Yes, it’s a security guidelines breach. They should not have allowed him to board the aircraft that was ready for take-off”, another official said.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Monday, May 9, 2016


Unusually, Aijaz Hussain broke the bad news. "Sir he has been shot into head and just rushed to Soura. There's no chance of his survival", Aijaz said. It took us just 10 seconds to charge my Maruti-800 outside Daily Excelsior bureau office. Traffic rush was just half of today's. In the next 17 minutes, we were at his bed in the Emergency ward of SKIMS. Contrary to our wild apprehensions, we found him in full senses. Blood was still gushing out of his wound between his eyes and nostrils. As usual Barkha had reached there before everyone else. She looked traumatised and, for the first time, was not doing interviews, bytes and PTC. For a second, I began pressing myself to believe that he would survive even as, to my knowledge, nobody hit this way, had. We returned only after doctors assured us that the chances of his survival were bright as, they pointed out, his critical tissues and organs had escaped MIRACULOUSLY. Yes, it was a miracle, providential escape, indeed. Post-recovery, however, I felt he fall into a depression, thinking every time that he had been the target and would be hit fatally next time. I just beseeched him to frequently visit my office. He did. It took me around a month to make him believe that he had been shot for mistaken identity. He had done nothing of the sort we did every day. Perhaps a year or two later, we saw him join Barkha's NDTV and doing wonderful stories---initially from Jammu and later from Srinagar. He was a sub editor at daily KASHMIR IMAGES when two youngmen wielding pistols barged into his office, at Lambert Lane in Srinagar, and asked where's Zaffar Iqbal. "I'm Zaffar. How can I help you", he had replied, only to be answered with a bullet in point blank range. That was on May 29, 2002.

Many many congratulations to very dear colleague and a member of my news group KASHMIR FIRSTPOST, Sheikh Zaffar Iqbal, on occasion of his NIKAH today. Wish the couple all the blessings of Almighty and an everlasting partnership.
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Sunday, May 8, 2016

3 militants killed in Pulwama; thousands attend funeral

Residents clash with forces. In two days of inauguration, special and ordinary train services grounded in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, May 7: Three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in an encounter by security forces on Saturday in Pulwama district of South Kashmir where hundreds of residents clashed with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and thousands attended the slain militants’ funeral amid anti-India and pro-Pakistan demonstrations.

Informed sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Special Operations Group (SOG) of Srinagar District Police, in coordination with SOG Awantipora and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 44th battalion, launched a cordon-and-search operation at Punzgam village that falls in Revenue District Pulwama and Police District Awantipora, late on Friday night. According to the specific information available with SOG Srinagar, a group of three young militants of Hizbul Mujahideen was hiding in the village.

In the wee hours on Saturday, the holed up militants opened fire on the troops when they found Army, CRPF and SOG laying a cordon. Troops retaliated and all the three militants got killed with suffering any collateral damage. Three AK rifles were seized beside the bodies.

Officials identified the slain militants as Ashfaq Ahmad Baba S/o Ghulam Hassan Baba R/o Tahab, Ishfaq Ahmad Dar S/o Ghulam Hassan Dar R/o Dogripora and Haseeb Ahmad Pala S/o Ghulam Nabi Pala R/o Brao Bandina. Even as the officials maintained that all the three belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, some knowledgeable sources insisted that Pala was a militant with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Officials said that Ashfaq and Ishfaq had joined militancy in 2014 while as Pala had joined in 2015.

Sources said that sensing trouble authorities imposed restrictions on the human movement early in the morning in half of Pulwama and Awantipora Police districts to pre-empt massive demonstrations and attacks on Police and security forces. Curfew-like situation prevailed in the whole area for the whole day. Reports said that scores of youths came out on the streets and directed intermittent attacks on a company headquarter of CRPF 184 Bn at Tahab. Police and CRPF exercised restraint and dispersed the crowds with aerial firing and tearsmoke.

Still, around 5,000 people participated in Ashfaq Ahmad Baba’s funeral prayers and procession at Tahab and 3,000 each in the funeral of Ishfaq Ahmad Dar and Haseeb Pala at Dogripora and Brao Bandina. Reports said that the demonstrators shouted anti-India, pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans. At least six demonstrators and paramilitary soldiers sustained injuries. Due to the turbulence, authorities froze all the train services---including the special trains inaugurated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag two days back---on Banihal-Baramulla track in Kashmir.

Officials put the number of the participants  in the funeral at Tahab at 1,500. They claimed that lesser number of people attended the slain militants’ funeral at Dogripora and Brao Bandina.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]