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Saturday, October 22, 2016

When Naeem Akhtar and 4 others were dismissed for being ‘threat to India’s security, sovereignty and integrity’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 21: With the volcanic eruption of armed insurgency, coupled with a separatist political movement, the administrative machinery was falling brick by brick January through March in 1990. Hundreds of thousands—and once a full million—of the Kashmiris used to march to the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan at Sonwar, demanding separation from India and implementation of the UN resolutions on Plebiscite.

Suddenly the separatist movement received a shot in the arm when senior IAS officers, including the stalwarts Hindal Haider Tayyabji, Ashok Jaitley, M.L, Kaul and Mohammad Shafi Pandit, signed and issued an appeal to the UN to intervene and stop human rights abuse by security forces in the Valley. Historic political developments took place when Vishwanath Pratap Singh was Prime Minister, Mufti Mohammad Union Home Minister and Jammu and Kashmir was under Governor’s, followed by President’s rule, in 1990. Many of Kashmir’s bureaucrats besides civil and Police officers became part and parcel of the secessionist movement.

Deputy Commissioner Excise Naeem Akhtar’s official residence at Government Quarter No: J-22 became the postal address of the movement as almost all the separatist politicians had been detained and lodged in different jails outside the Valley. Trade unions merged into a coordination committee which chose former Chief Engineer of Power Development Department Abdul Hamid Matoo as its President and Muzaffar Ahmad Khan as General Secretary.

Senior KAS officers like Muzaffar Ahmad Khan, then RTO Kashmir and General Manager with J&K Bank, Abdul Rashid Mubarki, additional Secretary Khizar Mohammad Wani and other prominent faces of the Kashmir Administrative Service came to be seen as the “real representatives of the Kashmir cause and sentiment”.

In months of the IAS officers’ memorandum, around 250 J&K officers, many of them between the ranks of Deputy Secretary to Commissioner-Secretary, issued another passionate appeal to the ‘Citizens of the World’. Believed to have been drafted by Akhtar in his Queen’s English, it called for Plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under the UN resolution — euphemism for Kashmir’s secession from India and accession to Pakistan. The Kashmiris named it ‘Azadi’. It created ripples in India and abroad.

Governor Girish Chander Saxena declared five senior and influential officers — Abdul Hamid Matoo, Naeem Akhar, A.R. Mubarki, Abdul Salam Bhat and Muzaffar Ahmad Khan — as threat to the State’s security, sovereignty and integrity and ordered their dismissal from service. Within an hour, the dismissed officers and their colleagues, holding key positions in the Government, held a meeting at Akhtar’s official residence in Jawahar Nagar. The coordination committee called for an indefinite strike, making a host of demands. Not one was conceded by Saxena’s government.

The 72-day-long employees’ strike, that started on September 15, 1990, crippled the services in Kashmir. On behalf of Governor Saxena, Advisor (Home) Mehmood Ahmad Zaki (who later retired as GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps of Army) and Additional Chief Secretary Home Mehmood-ur-Rehman called on senior IAS officer Sheikh Ghulam Rasool (then Financial Commissioner Revenue, who was emerging as potential contender for the coveted position of Chief Secretary) and asked him to use his good offices to resolve the crisis.

There was no breakthrough till VP Singh’s regime ended and Chander Shekhar took over as Prime Minister on November 10. Governor Saxena and Chief Secretary R.K. Takkar did strongly refuse to revoke the five officers’ dismissal and their reinstatement.

President of the coordination committee Matoo had earlier played a key role in persuading the legendary Policeman and retired Director General of Police Ghulam Hassan Shah against accepting Jagmohan’s offer of appointment as Advisor to Governor. Shah did not join Jagmohan’s government even as the order of his appointment was reportedly issued after seeking his consent. Matoo’s daughter was married to Shah’s son.

One day in October, days before the annual Durbar Move, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool called over 50 officers to his Sonwar residence and urged them to bring home to Matoo, Naeem and others that shutting down entire services and systems could lead to miseries of the common people and poor employees, making it hard for them to sustain the agitation. Even the pharmacies and ration depots had not been exempted from the strike.

It was decided in the meeting that three officers — Ghulam Abbas (DC Srinagar), Aijaz Ahmad Malik (PCCF) and Ghulam Ahmad Lone (Law Secretary) — would meet the employees coordination committee members at Matoo’s residence near Al-Farooq Masjid in Jawahar Nagar.

On their return from Matoo’s house, the three senior officers narrated to Sheikh Ghulam Rasool that the coordination committee members were “extremely discourteous and rude”. “Sir, they treated us as traitors of the Kashmir cause and agents of the Government of India. They alleged that we are hobnobbing with Governor to fail the freedom struggle. Naeem said what nonsense of ration are you talking about. Kashmiris want freedom”, one of the them told Rasool.

“Sir we made it clear to them that Abbas Sahab is here in his personal capacity, not as DC Srinagar, so are two of us. We conveyed to them Zaki Sahab’s and Rehman Sahab’s assurance that they would be reinstated immediately after they call off the strike. But they didn’t relent. They addressed us as if they were the Governors and Chief Ministers and we were the class 4th employees”, another officer told Rasool.

Commissioner Secretary ARI & Training Nazir Ahmad Kamili told Rasool that he and some other officers had also received threats on phone. “They posed as militants but we are sure they were our own colleagues trying to intimidate us”, Kamili said.

The matter didn’t end there. Matoo and his team in their speeches at Srinagar Municipality and other places alleged that some officers were out on the mission of failing the employees’ strike and the freedom struggle. Then only functional newspaper, late Mohammad Yousuf Qadri’s Afaaq, carried a story on such whispers. It was decided in Rasool’s meeting with the officers that three officers would go to editor of Afaaq and publish a statement about their failure to convince the coordination committee members on suspending the strike. “If all of them want to carry on, we will say that we too are with it”, said Sheikh and others.

A group of three officers was deputed to Qadri Sahab. They boarded the red-cross marked vehicle of Director Health Services and handed over their “clarification” to the editor’s son, Jeelani Qadiri, at his office near Abi Guzar. Jeelani agreed to publish but told the officers that he would need his father’s approval as it was a “sensitive matter”. Soon the trio arrived at the editor’s home in Balgarden.

Director Health Services Dr Muzaffar-uz-Zamaan Drabu, who lived in Karan Nagar neighbourhood, went in to meet Qadiri Sahab who obliged the officer. While he was still with Qadiri Sahab, some residents gathered around the vehicle and asked its driver about the officers meeting the editor. As he narrated everything with naiveté and honesty, the small group of residents began saying loudly that someone should make an announcement on the mosque’s PAS that the “traitors” were meeting Qadri Sahab. Someone was heard saying that they should set the vehicle on fire and beat up the “traitors”. Law Secretary Lone, who was inside the vehicle, turned pale.

However, as the motley gathering of the residents witnessed Dr Drabu emerging out of the editor’s home, they saluted him. He made it clear to them that none of the officers was working against the interests of the Kashmiris or the employees’ strike.

Immediately after VP Singh’s and Mufti Sayeed’s government at the Centre ended and Chander Shekhar took over as Prime Minister, senior National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Prof Saifuddin Soz persuaded him to withdraw the dismissal of the five Kashmiri officers as a “goodwill gesture”. They assured the new PM that it could initiate a process of resolving the crisis by understanding and dialogue. On November 26 the employees’ strike was called off as Saxena, on PM’s instruction, revoked the dismissal orders.

Among the reinstated officers and bureaucrats, Abdul Salam Bhat later functioned as DC in Udhampur and Srinagar, Muzaffar Khan headed several departments including Handicrafts and Estates before his retirement. Naeem Akhtar functioned as Secretary Tourism before holding a tenure as Secretary to Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed. For some time, when R.K. Jerath was on leave, Akhatr also held charge of the key portfolio of General Administration Department. Ultimately, in 2013 he became PDP’s Member in Legislative Council and in 2015 Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed inducted him as Minister of Education. He retained his berth and portfolio in Mehbooba Mufti’s Cabinet in 2016.


[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

Friday, October 21, 2016

Gazetted officers, Police officials in “anti-national list” spared from dismissal

BJP enthusiastic, PDP reluctant to praise Government’s decision; EJAC threatens to launch agitation if dismissal orders not revoked

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 20: Even as it was not immediately clear whether action was being initiated against any senior government employees allegedly involved in the current separatist strike, all the seven gazetted officers besides 6 Police officials in the list of 180 persons have been spared and their services have not been terminated by Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

With the eight administrative Secretaries having issued dismissal orders of 9 junior officials late on Tuesday night, two more employees are likely to be terminated on Friday. Commissioner-Secretary Finance Navin Chowdhary being in New Delhi, dismissal orders of the two employees of Finance Department could not be issued on Wednesday and Thursday. According to the top official sources, Government had approved a list of 11 employees for termination of services in the first phase.

According to these sources, 36 employees have been shortlisted for termination of service out of the 180 government officials who had been found involved in subscribing to the current separatist strike, now running in 15th week.

Significantly, all the seven gazetted officers, mostly residents of Anantnag district and posted in South Kashmir, have been spared. They include an Assistant Registrar of the University of Kashmir, a Block Development Officer posted in Mattan, a Deputy Chief Education Officer lately shifted from Anantnag to Ramban district, an Accounts Officers of Finance Department, a Lecturer posted at Government Degree College Larnoo, a Lecturer of the Higher Education Department and an Assistant Engineer of PHE Department.

Even as one junior official of Fire and Emergency Services has been dismissed, all the six Police personnel — five of them posted in District Police Budgam — who had been indicted by CID for contributing to the agitation and enforcing the separatist-sponsored shutdown, have also been left out by the State Home Department.

Some official sources insist that the politicians of one ruling party besides senior officers and bureaucrats have intervened to rescue over 150 of the “anti-national” government employees.

While as most of the BJP leaders, including Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, owned and appreciated the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s decision —unprecedented in the last 21 years —the coalition partner PDP looked somewhat reluctant to speak in the same tone and tenor. “Government officers and bureaucrats are expected to have applied their mind and thereafter taken such decision”, PDP leaders invariably told the journalists.

On the other hand, all the key Opposition parties were highly critical of the Government decision. Many of them urged the Government to be “magnanimous” and revoke the dismissal orders. Some of them even questioned the Government’s intentions and alleged that the dismissals had been done on the basis of “political vendetta”. They also pointed out that no departmental enquiry had been ordered and no opportunity had been provided to the accused before terminating their services.

Government itself chose to remain mute. No official release, clarification or reaction was issued to the statements from the mainstream and separatist opposition parties or trade union leaders. Privately, bureaucratic sources told STATE TIMES that no departmental enquiry was required as the action had been ordered under section 126-B of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. They contended that the competent authority under law was “empowered to dismiss or remove a person or reduce him in rank” if he was satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such enquiry.

“Whereas, on perusal of the dossier and other related documents, it transpires that the subject has been found involved in anti-national activities which include taking active part in causing disturbance and disorder to the public peace, intimidation to general public/ shopkeepers to observe shutdown amid calls given by separatists and instigating the youth to indulge in stone pelting…” reads an order issued by Commissioner-Secretary Revenue Mohammad Ashraf Mir to terminate the services of one Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan, Patwari Halqa Laram Ganjipora in Anantnag.

Meanwhile, J&K Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) President Abdul Qayoom Wani dismissed the termination orders as dictatorial and threatened, in conversation with media, that the association of the state government employees would launch a strike if the Government chose not to revoke the termination orders.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mehbooba Govt terminates services of 9 J&K officials

‘It’s just eyewash as Ministers have come to rescue of over 150 government officials found involved in current turbulence’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 19: For the first time after 1995, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has terminated the services of 9 of its regular employees on the charges of posing threat to the security, sovereignty and integrity of the State.

In its issue of September 26, STATE TIMES had exclusively reported that Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP-BJP government was considering dismissal of services of the 180 employees who had been found involved in subscribing to the summer turbulence. According to highly placed official sources, these employees, who also included some officials of the Government of India’s BSNL and Project Beacon, had been found actively involved in enforcement of the separatist-sponsored shutdown, stone pelting, attacks on Police and security forces and organising protests and demonstrations.

Among the departments, most of these employees were from Education and among the districts most of them belonged to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s home district of Anantnag.

State and Central intelligence agencies, according to sources, had conducted an extensive exercise and prepared dossiers for terminating the services of the government employees allegedly involved in current turmoil. Over 90 persons have got killed and thousands injured in the 103-day-long turbulence that was triggered off by the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8.

Top level sources in the State government revealed to STATE TIMES on Wednesday that, following the Government’s decision, administrative Secretaries of 8 departments issued orders late last night, terminating the services of 9 employees. While as 2 of such employees belong to Education Department, one each belongs to Revenue, Public Health Engineering, Fire and Emergency Services, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Forest.

Even as Advocate General Jehangir Iqbal Ganai did not respond to phone calls, sources in his office said that on ‘express directions from Law Department’ necessary caveats were filed in both wings of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court so as to ensure that none of the dismissed officials gets the termination orders stayed. Principal Secretary Home, R.K. Goyal, picked up the phone. Asked about the Government’s decision and the termination orders, he said that he would call back. He didn’t until filing of this report.

Law Secretary Abdul Majid Bhat claimed that he had no knowledge of the termination orders having been issued. “About six days back, Government just sought legal opinion which we provided. This decision is at a higher level and we are not in the loop”, Mr Bhat told STATE TIMES.

However, knowledgeable sources revealed that a high level meeting on Tuesday night decided that respective administrative Secretaries would issue the termination orders separately. It had been decided by the Government that the dismissal orders would be issued under section 126-B of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir invoking the provisions of posing threat to security, sovereignty and integrity of the State. The appointing authority under this section has powers to dispense with the obligation of holding a departmental enquiry prior to taking the decision of dismissing a government employee’s service.

Section 126-C of the Constitution of J&K, according to sources, gives identical powers to the Governor. However, it had been decided that respective administrative Secretaries would issue the orders under 126-B.

Sources pointed out that today’s dismissal orders were substantially different from those issues by Omar Abdullah’s and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s governments two or three times while declaring regular employees of a particular age and service length as “dead wood” and terminating their services under Section 226 of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Rules and Regulations.

Previous dismissals

Previously, Governor KV Krishna Rao had dismissed services of 20 junior Government employees in 1995 over charges of their involvement in subversive activities, terrorism and activities inimical to the security, sovereignty and integrity of the State. However, in the wake of seriously negative reaction from the employees, Governor was forced to revoke the orders.

Prior to that, Governor Girish Chander Saxena had taken an identical action against five influential gazetted officers of J&K Government when the State was under President’s rule and V.P. Singh was Prime Minister of India in 1990. Their dismissal was revoked in less than a year as “good will gesture” under direction of Prime Minister Chander Shekhar on sustained persuasion of National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Saif-ud-din Soz.

Those dismissed and subsequently reinstated by Governor Saxena included then Chief Engineer of PDD and Chairman of the employees coordination committee Abdul Hamid Matoo, then DC Excise and now Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar, former Director of Handicrafts Muzaffar Ahmad Khan, Abdul Salam Bhat (who subsequently functioned as DC Udhampur and DC Srinagar) and KAS officer GM Mubarki who then functioned as RTO Kashmir and General Manager with J&K Bank.

In 1986, Governor Jagmohan had on security grounds dismissed a number of the Government employees including then Professor of Persian literature and now senior Hurriyat leader, Abdul Gani Bhat. Same year later, Prof Gani played a key role in floating Muslim United Front (MUF) — the mainstream precursor of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. Later, he served as Hurriyat’s Chairman twice.

It was not immediately clear whether Mehbooba’s Government has concluded the drastic action with the dismissal of only 9 junior employees or it has been taken up as a continuous process. Some of the official sources maintained that similar action would follow against other employees found involved in the turbulence. However, at least one well-placed source claimed that different Ministers and politicians of one political party had come to the rescue of over 150 employees in the list and they had managed to protect them from dismissal of service. “This is just eyewash”, he asserted.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pak-China flags seized, 44 held in Valley’s first cordon-and-search operation after Burhan encounter

LeT issues threat to SHO Baramulla, family

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 18: Police and security forces have finally broken the ice with a massive 12-hour-long cordon-and-search operation in the old town of Baramulla even as no such operation could be conducted anywhere in the Kashmir hinterlands after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter in Anantnag district on July 8. Forces attempted six of such operations in the last 100 days of turmoil but had to withdraw each time as the residents of a cordoned area made announcements on public address system of the neighbourhood mosques, shouted slogans and pelted stones. Troops chose not to take risks and violate the government’s cardinal direction of “no civilian casualty”.

 Last night’s operation in Baramulla’s “Chhota Pakistan” was also significant in the sense that, after a long pause, a contingent of BSF also joined Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police. Last fortnight, two unidentified militants, both believed to be Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Pakistani cadres, got killed in a failed fidayeen strike on the twin formations of BSF and Army at Janbazpora, on outskirts of Baramulla town.

While Police and security forces claimed to have busted hideouts and arrested 44 “wanted” persons in the nightlong operation, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba held out an open threat to SHO Baramulla Sub Inspector Khalid who is believed to have played key role in getting a number of the organisation’s militants killed and arrested in the last several months. “With the addition of today’s 44 persons, we have arrested around 70 militant supporters, harbourers and over-ground workers (OGWs) in the last seven months in Baramulla town. Many of them have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA)”, said a senior Police officer.

Baramulla, in fact, tops all ten districts of Kashmir valley in PSA detentions in recent times. Sixty-two of such detentions have been ordered on Police dossiers by District Magistrate of Baramulla over the months. “Even in 2013 and 2014, conducting a cordon-and-search operation in the militant-infested town was next to impossible. Three bridges over Jhelum used to be the battlefronts of stone pelting. Now, we have conquered these spots fully and the clashes happen deep into the old town interiors”, said an official.

Senior Superintendent of Police in Baramulla, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, told STATE TIMES that the previous night’s operation was conducted on specific information and disclosures made by some detainees during sustained interrogation. “We could not get any of the four JeM militants who are hiding in the old town, though we got 44 of their OGWs, helpers and harbourers arrested. We are going to release some of them as they have been found innocent and uninvolved but many of them are being booked under PSA and other laws”, SSP Baramulla said. He said that around 500 houses were searched.

SSP claimed that the first joint flag of China and Pakistan, stitched together and waved during a separatist demonstration last Friday, was seized today. He said that a number of Pakistani flags were seized from residential houses including one from the coffin of the local Jamia Masjid. “We have smashed a major network of JeM operatives and militants. It was a network of 12 militants. We have eliminated four of them in our area and four more got killed in different encounters in Handwara area. Still four of them are alive. We are getting after them and their civilian harbourers and helpers”, SSP Imtiyaz asserted.

It was the first operation in the last over three months when not a single stone was thrown on the troops and no announcements were made from local mosques.

A Defence spokesman at headquarters 15 Corps described the operation of Rashtriya Rifles 46th battalion along with Police and other forces a success. “An extensive search operation was launched by the security forces in Old Town, Baramulla, during the wee hours of Oct 17. Joint teams of Army, JKP, BSF & CRPF conducted deliberate search operations in ten sensitive localities including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj, Jamia and other mohallas reportedly being used as safe havens by the terrorists”, said the spokesman in a press release.

“The security forces sanitised the area searching over 700 houses in a span of 12 hours on 17 Oct 2016. Based on specific inputs, 44 persons involved with terror related activities have been apprehended during the operation. Large quantity of incriminating material such as petrol bombs, Chinese & Pakistan flags, LeT & JeM letter head pads, unauthorized mobile phones and seditious anti-national publicity material were seized during the raids. In addition a large number of suspected hideouts were busted during the prolonged search operations”, he added.

In a terse reaction, LeT spokesman Dr Abdullah Gaznavi said: “LeT chief Mehmood Shah has warned Khalid, SHO Old Town, Baramulla, who had recently cordoned and arrested 200 youth. Mothers, sisters, elders were beaten up and harassed as well. We had warned JK police earlier, but they seem to have ignored our advice. Those who keep soft corner for police should also wake up now. We will teach lessons now”, LeT spokesman said in a statement while claiming that his organisation had already collected the SHO’s residential particulars.

“We are aware of your movement and every one of your family. You have lost the right to complain, and you will reap what you have sown”, the LeT statement addressed the SHO.

Scores of Police officers and their families have been frightened with similar statements in the last 100 days of the near-total breakdown of law and order machinery in the Valley plains. The father of one of such SHOs, who has himself retired as Dy SP, read out his family’s apologies and appeals for mercy at a mosque in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown of Bijbehara in July. The SHO was shifted from Kulgam to Budgam district where stone pelters broke his knee. He is now convalescing at home after a surgery at Army’s 92 Base Hospital.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Side-lined by Mehbooba, Sahai gets prize posting in Modi’s government

Cabinet committee on appointments clears the J&K cadre IPS officer for post of Joint Secretary in National Security Council Secretariat

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 17: The Union Cabinet’s committee on appointments has cleared Shiv Murari Sahai, the 1987 batch IPS officer of J&K cadre, for the coveted position of Joint Secretary National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) where he will be working with Prime Minister's Office, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Deputy NSA and retired Director of Intelligence Bureau Asif Ibrahim, who is functioning as PM's special ambassador on counterterrorism.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was not reportedly comfortable with Sahai while his functioning as Additional Director General of Police (CID) after the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and two other militants were killed in an encounter with Police and security forces at Bamdora, Kokernag, in Anantnag district, on July 8 this year. Though there was no official order, Sahai was unofficially acting as DGP on that eventful day as DGP, K. Rajendra Kumar, was on leave in Hyderabad.

According to highly placed government sources, Chief Minister was not happy with the selection of delegations for their meeting with the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on July 23 at Nehru Guest House. It was only after the Divisional Commissioner Asgar Samoon expressed his helplessness that ADG CID was assigned with the task of arranging some delegations for meeting Rajnath Singh. Samoon was removed as Divisional Commissioner in five days.

 Some of Rajnath’s visitors are understood to have spoken highly of Sahai’s achievements as IGP twice in crucial circumstances and stressed on his appointment as DGP, though he was junior to six IPS officers on the ladder who included three potential contenders for DGP post — S.K. Mishra (1985), S.P. Vaid (1986) and V.K. Singh (1987).

Even as some reports insist that Chief Minister was not happy with the Bamdora operation which, she believed, had been planned and executed by some J&K Police officials in close coordination with Army and Intelligence Bureau, sources told STATE TIMES that she was not happy with the way Sahai attempted to promote himself for the post of DGP. Rajendra, who subsequently got extension of three months to his service, was scheduled to retire on September 30.

Sources said that when Rajnath Singh wished that “someone competent like Sahai” should be appointed as DGP to deal with the political turbulence, CM told the union Home Minister that she had already decided to send him on Central deputation. Rajnath Singh, on that occasion, asserted that he would then like Sahai to serve in CRPF.

Subsequently, Mehbooba’s government cleared Sahai for Central deputation but the Centre did not process the recommendation of his posting for several weeks. Finally when the impression gathered that the J&K CID had been crippled under uncertainty as the ADG was “disappointed and demoralised”, Ms Mufti’s government shifted him to an insignificant posting in the office of Principal Resident Commissioner of J&K in New Delhi.

Interestingly, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too had shifted Sahai to the same place but got him back as IGP Kashmir in the most challenging situation of the summer turmoil in 2010. Sahai and his team are credited with failing that turmoil in two months.

Previously, one of Sahai’s politically incorrect statements on television had turned Chief Minister furious as he claimed that Ms Mufti was, in advance, aware of the operation in which Burhan Wani was killed. She quickly claimed that she had no knowledge of the identity of the holed up militants who were killed in the encounter subsequently. She told mediapersons that if she would have been aware of Burhan's presence in Bamdora, her forces would not have killed him for the interest of "peace and a flourishing tourist season" in the Valley. Under pressure from the top, Sahai later changed his statement and claimed that operational details in advance were not shared with anybody including Chief Minister.

With a high profile in intelligence and counterinsurgency, Sahai has had a vast network of contacts and informers in Kashmir's separatist organisations and militant outfits. SIM cards provided by him to some militants in Pakistan were once found in possession of the LeT militants who carried out terror strikes in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

With his new assignment at Sardar Patel Bhawan as Joint Secretary NSCS, Sahai will be directly working with Prime Minister’s Office under Deputy National Security Advisor and retired Director IB Asif Ibrahim and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He will be one of the most important advisers on the strategic policymaking on Jammu and Kashmir that includes dealing with political turbulences, like the one of 2016, besides the counterterrorism. 


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

FIR registered on EDI’s complaint over ‘missing’ LCDs during Pampore encounter

Manager Estate says everything was intact at guesthouse till October 12 evening

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 15: Police on Saturday registered a criminal case against anonymous persons on a complaint filed by Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) regarding the LCD TVs and other articles allegedly stolen by Police or security forces from a guesthouse during or after the three-day-long gunfight at the hostel block early this week.

STATE TIMES had exclusively reported in Saturday’s edition that over a dozen LCDs, besides mattresses and blankets, were missing from 13 rooms of the EDI guesthouse and the officials believed that these had been looted or stolen away by the Police or security forces who camped at the premises without break for three days. This newspaper reported that EDI were lodging FIR at Police Station of Pampore.

Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar, IGP Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, and CRPF spokesman, Rajesh Yadav, had said that they would check with the Police and security forces on duty and share the facts with this newspaper. Subsequently, Zonal Police headquarters today issued a press release, confirming that a complaint had been received from EDI.  

“Apropos to the news story regarding missing of some articles from EDI, Pampore published by a Jammu based newspaper today. Awantipora police authorities have informed that they have received a complaint in this regard from EDI. The contents of the complaint are being verified to check whether the articles went missing before the encounter, during the encounter or after the encounter. After this a formal FIR is being lodged to investigate the matter”, said the Police press release.

SHO Pampore, Inspector Manzoor Ahmad Beg, later confirmed to STATE TIMES that after preliminary verification of the EDI complaint, Police Station Pampore registered case FIR No: 183 of 2016 dated October 15, 2016, under sections 379 and 457 RPC against the anonymous persons. He said that the complaint did not identify anybody as a suspect.

“We have registered the FIR and started the investigation. We are ascertaining whether the LCDs and other articles had been really installed at the guesthouse; if confirmed, whether the same had been stolen during the course of the encounter when only Police and security forces were present there, or thereafter when others had access to the premises”, Inspector Manzoor said.

“Unfortunately, all the CCTV cameras had been installed at the hostel building which was severely damaged in the encounter and none of these was at the guesthouse or other parts of the premises”, Mr Manzoor added. He sounded optimistic that the Police would unravel the whole mystery.

Even as the seven-floor hostel block, in which militants were killed, suffered extensive damage in the three-day-long encounter on October 10, 11 and 12, the three-storey guesthouse remained unharmed. Men from SOG Awantipore, CRPF 110 Bn and Army’s Special Force carried out the operation without suffering any collateral damage.

EDI’s Manager Estates, Wajahat Matoo, told STATE TIMES that he himself, as well as incharge watch and ward Mohammad Maqbool, found everything intact inside the guesthouse when the encounter ended in the afternoon on October 12. “Everything was in place there till Wednesday (October 12) evening. Some personnel in uniform asked Mohammad Maqbool to leave and told him there was no need of the EDI officials’ presence there. We believe everything has been stolen away during the night intervening Wednesday and Thursday”, Mr Matoo said.

Manager Estates said that he filed a complaint with SHO Pampore on Thursday (October 13). “He told us that we will go for preliminary verification and thereafter register the FIR”, Mr Matoo added.

According to the Manager Estates, 13 LCD TVs (32 inch Sony), each with a set top box (Airtel), have been removed and stolen away from all the 13 rooms (8 rooms on 1st floor and 5 special suites on 2nd floor). Each unit cost Rs 28,000 to Rs 32,000. “They have left behind only the beds and mattresses. Full sets of beddings including Bombay Dyeing blankets, quilts, bed sheets, bed covers and pillows have been stolen away from the 13 rooms. Even the bone China crockery and cutlery, tea sets, bowls, plates and utensils have been completely stolen from the kitchen”, he added.

One gas cylinder and one gas cutter are also missing from the EDI administrative block that is under renovation following the February 20-22 fidayeen attack in which the four-floor building had suffered extensive damage. Two CRPF men, on EDI gardener, four Army personnel, including two captains, and three militants had got killed in the three-day gunbattle in February this year.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]