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Saturday, December 26, 2009

For Moharram, 2009 as bad as 1989 in Srinagar
SDPO among 30 injured in Srinagar clash; other processions peaceful

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 26: Even after armed insurgency has shrunk to shreds and an elected government has been in place for the last over 13 years, security situation with regard to Moharram processions in 2009 is officially as unfavourable as it was 20 years ago when the authorities had, for the first time in hundreds of years, banned all Tazia and Zuljanah processions in the capital city of Srinagar. Nearly 30 people, including a Sub Divisional Police Officer, today sustained injuries when groups of people, claiming to be Moharram mourners, clashed with Police in their attempts to take out a procession in Civil Lines area.

Much like every year since 1989, authorities have denied permission to the major Alam and Zujanah processions in the Civil Lines, quoting “hostile security scenario” even as all other Moharram processions in the capital city as well as in the countryside are being organized smoothly in Kashmir valley during this beginning month of the Islamic calendar year. As per a decades old tradition, Hussaini Yadgaar Committee, Guru Bazar, being the sole licensee of the event, used to carry a major procession of the Karbala mourners from Guru Bazar to Dalgate on 8th of Moharram every year till 1989. In 1970s and 1980s, Ittihadul Muslimeen chairman, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, used to be the chief guest at this event.

Anjuman-e-Sharee Shiyaan of Budgam-based spiritual leader of Kashmiri Shia Muslims, Aga Syed Yusuf Al-Moosavi Al-Safavi, and All J&K Shia Association of cleric-politician, Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, used to be the licensees of two major Ashoora processions of 10th of Moharram. Due to the clash of routes, on way to their respective destinations of Hassanabad and Zadibal, National Conference founder and then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah resolved the crisis and made the two Shia organizations agree on taking the Ashoora procession on the one marked route from Abi Guzar to Zadibal by way of annual rotation in late 1970s.

Due to tense situation in Valley on account of Pakistani military ruler General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq’s death in an aircrash on August 18 in 1988, authorities banned both the major Moharram processions. Thereafter, presence of armed insurgents has been invariably quoted as the reason for enforcing prohibitory orders as officials have been apprehensive of the incidents of disruptions. According to them, militants and other armed groups can throw a grenade, cause an IED blast or manage a shootout to cause casualties, communalise the situation and put the blame conveniently on the government.

Clergymen and politicians, however, have been dismissing the prohibitory orders as “Government’s aggressive intervention into the religious affairs of the Kashmiri Muslims”. Almost all those, who are simultaneously associated with separatist politics, have been aggressively critical of the government action and creating scenes by way of attempting to take out processions and clashing with Police. It has been a routine feature on and around Lalchowk on 8th and 10th of Moharram every year since 1990.

In keeping with the tradition, separatist-religious groups clashed with Police at four particular spots in Civil Lines on occasion of the 8th Moharram today. Significantly, sole licensee of the event, Yadgaar-e-Hussain Committee Guru Bazar, was as usual absent from the scene.

Groups of dozens and scores, few of them carrying typical Moharram banners, clashed with Police. At two places, groups of people resorted to stone-pelting on Police which does not have sanction of the spiritual leadership. Even one of the prominent clergymen, who also happens to be a senior Hurriyat leader, dismissed the stone pelting as “handiwork of mischief mongers”, albeit maintaining that government was guilty of “intervention into the religious matters of Muslims”.

While as independent reports said that 30 persons, including over a dozen of the processionists, sustained injuries in today’s clashes, an official spokesman confirmed in a statement that in all 16 Policemen, including SDPO Kothibagh, Zulfikar, sustained injuries. SDPO was rushed to hospital for treatment. Eyewitnesses said that Police used batons and tearsmoke canisters to disperse the gathering.

Elsewhere in the capital city, over a dozen smaller and medium size Alam and Tazia processions were organized as per tradition in the Shia-dominated localities of Zadibal, Hassanabad, Dal Lake Mir Bahri, Madeen Sahib, Lalbazar and Shalimar. Reports said that over a hundred of similar processions came out on occasion of the 8th of Moharram in the rural districts of Budgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, Bandipore, Baramulla and Ganderbal where members of Shia community live in sizeable numbers.

There was no report of any untoward incident as authorities had not, as usual, extended ban on such processions to any areas beyond Srinagar Civil Lines.

Notwithstanding the ban on the major Ashoora procession in Srinagar on December 28th, hundreds of thousands of Shia devotees and mourners of the martyrs of Karbala are expected to participate in over 50 Zuljanah processions in Kashmir valley on Monday next.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

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Mehbooba asks: How did Sagir report go to CM instead of PM?

Separatists upset but mainstream parties welcome 5th Working Group recommendations

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Dec 24: With almost all the mainstream political parties welcoming recommendations of the Prime Minister’s 5th Working Group on Jammu & Kashmir and the separatist groups categorically rejecting the same, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, today sounded surprised over the fact that Justice (retired) Sagir Ahmed had submitted his report to the state Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, instead of Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Even as Justice Sagir has dismissed PDP’s concept of ‘Self Rule’ as utopian and claimed that the party never came forward with the much hyped document, Mehbooba Mufti came out with a positive reaction to the Prime Minister’s 5th Working Group (Centre-State relationship). At a specially organized news conference at her official residence, PDP chief described the recommendations as “a good beginning” but expressed her surprise that Justice Sagir had submitted the report to Chief Minister instead of Prime Minister who had constituted five Working Groups as part of his Jammu & Kashmir initiative over two years ago.

“This report was supposed to be submitted to the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, it has been submitted to the state Chief Minister before reaching the Prime Minister”, Mehbooba observed and said that she was surprised over this particular development. Nevertheless, she expressed her satisfaction over the fact that most of her party’s demands had been accepted. “Government of India should now implement the recommendations (of Justice Sagir-led Working Group) in letter and spirit. These should not gather the dust in New Delhi like many of previous reports and recommendations”, Mehbooba asserted.

Responding to the recorded observation that PDP had never submitted its Self Rule document, Mehbooba said that Justice Sagir had received most of her party’s demands. “Even as our first meeting with Justice Sagir remained inconclusive and we were kept waiting for the next meeting, it never happened. Rather than holding next meeting with us, Justice Sagir has surprisingly concluded his report and submitted it to the J&K Chief Minister”, she said. According to her, the Working Group has remained silent over a many demands put forward by the state political parties, particularly those related to cross-border relations, and it has just compiled a wish list rather than making clear-cut recommendation of restoring autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir.

PDP chief, however, admitted that her party had submitted to 5th Working Group only the demands which could be considered within the framework of the Indian Constitution. She said that PDP had not shared any of its demands, related to cross-border relations, with Justice Sagir-led Working Group. She said it was still reassuring that most of her party’s demands had been accepted.

Addressing a meeting of his party workers at Nawai-e-Subah complex, senior NC leader and Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar claimed that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and NC’s patron Dr Farooq Abdullah had kept their word with the people and convinced Prime Minister’s Working Group on Centre-State relationship, over the need of restoring autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir in light of Government on India’s accords and agreements with late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. According to him, Justice Sagir-led Working Group had called the bluff of PDP’s Self Rule concept and dismissed it as completely utopian. He asserted that, on the other hand, Justice Sagir was convinced of the merits of NC’s concept of Greater Autonomy and he had made unambiguous recommendation, asking Government of India to accede to the NC’s demand.

With certain reservations from CPI (M), most of other mainstream political parties have appreciated Justice Sagir group’s recommendations and demanded implementation of all these at an earliest.

Contrary to the predominantly positive reaction from mainstream groups, almost all the separatist political parties have rejected Justice Sagir group’s recommendations. Almost all of them from Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to Shabir Ahmed Shah and Mohammad Yasin Malik have asserted in separate statements that implementation of Justice Sagir’s recommendations would have no bearing on the Kashmiris’ “freedom struggle”. They invariably said that “over one hundred thousand Kashmiris” had not laid down their life for restoration of Autonomy or Self Rule. While as most of them said that nothing short of “Azadi” (freedom) would be acceptable to the Kashmiris, Geelani asserted that the only solution to the problem lay in implementation of the UN resolutions whereby people of the “disputed state” would be asked to vote either for accession to India or for Pakistan.

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Shopian unifies separatist, Govt lawyers in Valley

Justice delayed by one day in all courts of law in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Dec 23: In two years of the outbreak of armed insurgency in Kashmir valley, High Court Bar Association (HCBA) had excommunicated over a dozen of its members on account of their appointment as Government’s advocates and standing counsels in 1989. Even as few of the appointees mustered courage to join and perform (under Police protection) what a number of the senior HCBA members themselves embraced till January 1990, most of them preferred life to profession. Legal practitioners in the two diagonally opposite camps didn’t see eye-to-eye with each other for years.

Eighteen years down the line, Valley has reached a situation where---for the first time---pro-Azadi HCBA would be publicly in defence of an advocate of Omar Abdullah’s National Conference-led coalition government in the court of law. A former constituent of the separatist Hurriyat Conference and an active organ of the secessionist movement in Kashmir valley since 1990, HCBA has declared to provide defence to all the six doctors and five lawyers who have been charged with making criminal conspiracy and fabricating evidences in the matter of investigation of the death of two young women in Shopian in mysterious circumstances on May 29th this year.

Those enjoying HCBA’s “full moral and legal support” include Government’s Public Prosecutor in the court of District & Sessions Judge Shopian, Sheikh Mubarak, who happens to be a relative of senior NC leader, Sheikh Mansoor, and his son, Sheikh Rafi, of Kachhdora village. Slain legislator Sheikh Mansoor as well as his son have been NC’s MLAs from Shopian. Mubarak had been appointed as PP by Minister of Law & Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, in September---nearly four months after the volcanic “rape-cum-murder” of the unmarried Aasiya Jan and the married Neelofar Jan. According to the CBI chargesheet, Mubarak, his predecessor PP Mohammad Yousuf and President of Bar Association Shopian Abdul Majeed Dar were among five lawyers, six doctors and two civilians who harassed witnessed allegedly for the purpose of implicating “innocent” Police officials in the matter of rape and murder that had never happened.

Love-hate relationship across the ideological divide had shown symptoms of a remarkable change even earlier when Sagar’s establishment appointed one of the senior HCBA leader’s son-in-law as a standing counsel for Omar Abdullah’s government. Even in recent times, acrimony was so deep-rooted that the former HCBA President Zaffar Shah’s presence alongside then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and a large number of pro-India politicians on occasion of the Golden Jubilee event of Daily Aftab at SKICC would merit a page one number in J&K newspapers.

What Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP did to Hurriyat from 1999 to 2008, Omar Abdullah’s party and government have done to both by playing ‘second-fiddle politics’, intelligently but perhaps dangerously, in the last one year. Jumping into the vociferous crowd, which essentially can not representative of the majority, has given the Chief Minister short term dividend of insulation against the separatist and the New Delhi-backed pseudo-separatist sting.

Political analysts insist that such kind of strategy was fraught with dangerous consequences, as the year 2008 has brought home to Mufti and his PDP. Hardliners like Syed Ali Shah Geelani have been triumphantly referring to the senior NC and PDP leaders’ statements in order to establish that Kashmir was a political problem and, one day in near or far future, it would have to be resolved “in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of the state”. In an oversimplification, they make the point that NC or PDP, both were “India’s night watchmen” who would have to clear out like Syed Mir Qasim did for Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1975. This comes as brazen negation to Dr Farooq Abdullah’s ideology which he retained against heavy odds since 1990.

Remarkably again, Omar’s government put four of its Police officers, including an SP, behind bars for nearly two months in the Shopian aftermath and hired the country’s most expensive lawyers only to ensure that none of the detainees got bail from any court. Thus came a day when the Valley witnessed all from HCBA to Omar government’s advocates to the specially engaged attorneys pushing arguments against the Police officials and holding them guilty of “rape and murder” in Shopian. CBI has obviously failed them all by establishing the reverse.

It has been marked with interest that Omar Abdullah’s government was more loyal than the king in arresting and detaining those held guilty in the same matter by Jan Commission but those indicted by CBI---including a Chief Medical Officer and a Public Prosecutor--- are continuously retaining their positions and postings in the state government.

Meanwhile, work remained suspended today in most of the courts in entire Valley as lawyers stayed away from business in response to HCBA’s call against CBI’s act of “giving clean chit to criminals and framing those who had raised their voices against rape-cum-murder of Shopian”. Groups of lawyers held demonstrations in Shopian and few other towns to assert that they would take the Shopian battle to International Court of Justice.

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2 cops killed as militants attack Police in Pampore


AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 22: Three years after killing SHO Pampore, Inspector Manzoor Ahmed and a civilian and leaving three more wounded in a broad daylight strike on a Police party, militants today attacked another Police party on the same spot at Kadalbal in Pampore, 14 Kms from here. Two Police personnel died and one more was battling for life at a hospital here even as security forces launched a massive search operation in the saffron-rich township on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

Informed sources in south Kashmir told Early Times that three Phiran-clad gunmen, believed to be militants, opened fire on a Police naka at Kadalbal, Pampore, at 1845 hours this evening. Caught unawares, Policemen proved to be lame ducks for the guerrillas who fired indiscriminately for about five minutes and managed to escape before Police and security forces later launched a search operation. Sources said that three of the four Policemen targeted by the militants got critically injured. They were identified as selection grade constable Farooq Ahmed of Gulab Bagh, Zakoora (Ganderbal), SPO Khursheed Ahmed of Hariparigam (Awantipore) and constable Abdul Hameed of Sangrama (Sopore).

Even as colleagues rushed to their rescue and help quickly from Police Station Pampore and all the three injured were evacuated, militants successfully made good their escape. Rushed to Srinagar, two of the critically injured personnel, namely selection grade constable Farooq Ahmed and SPO Khursheed Ahmed, succumbed to injuries later tonight at SKIMS, Soura. Constrable Abdul Hameed, who has been hit in his leg, was battling for life at Bone & Joint Hospital at midnight.

SP Awantipore, Bashir Ahmed Khan, confirmed the death of two Police personnel and said that the third one was responding to treatment at Bone & Joint Hospital in Srinagar. He said that the “Phiran-clad militants”, who carried AK-56 rifles, had escaped under the cover of darkness but were suspected to be still hiding in the same locality. Police and security forces have launched a joint house-to-house operation in search of the militants though there were immediately no substantial clues with regard to their place of hiding, he said.

On December 30, 2006, militants had gunned down SHO Pampore, Inspector Manzoor Ahmed, alongwith a civilian, and left three others wounded in an identical but broad daylight strike on the same spot. Two days ago, suspected militants had struck in Awantipore and Rajpura localities of the same Pulwama district in south Kashmir and gunned down two civilians, including a ruling National Conference (NC) activist.

Militants’ deadly attack on Police tonight came in weeks of over half-a-dozen Police and paramilitary personnel getting killed in point blank strikes in the capital city of Srinagar. In September earlier, militants had targeted a vehicle of District Police Pulwama near Srinagar Central Jail with a massive IED blast, killing eight of them on spot. Notwithstanding the refrain of improvement in situation from all sides and the politicians demanding withdrawal of troops from Jammu & Kashmir, a number of civilians and armed forces personnel have been eliminated by suspected militants this year in firing and IED blasts. Figures are no match to those of 1990-2002, but a number of people have also sustained injuries in different militant strikes, particularly grenade attacks in Kashmir valley this year.

Meanwhile, Srinagar Police today claimed to have arrested three militants of Hizbul Mujahideen. They were identified as Rafiq Magray aliads Aadil, Mohammad Ramzan alias Ibrahim and Iqbal Haroon alias Muzaffar. A Police spokesman said that arms and ammunition were recovered from the three militants. Independent sources, however, described it as a routine incident of surrender.

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Tata Indicom among 50 major defaulters on By-pass

SMC shuts eyes to largescale violation of master plan in Srinagar

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 19: Proud of its unique regard to ethics, Tatas have given an all new interpretation to their fundamental code in Kashmir as one of the companies of the group has established a major facility in Srinagar inside a structure that has been raised in total violation of master plan and without No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from different government departments. This has been identified by Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) as one among 50 major violations on the National Highway By-pass in the summer capital.

Highly placed sources in the state government revealed to Early Times that a Srinagar-based businessman had applied for raising and running a ‘guesthouse’ for the purpose of tourism promotion three years ago. However, being a violation to the master plan, which has reserved this area strictly for non-commercial purpose, different departments did not issue NOCs and consequently the applicant failed to get permission from SMC’s BOCA.

Even as the businessman could not get permission, he raised a major 3-story concrete complex few yards from the Bypass and did not maintain distance as stipulated for authorized structures on the highway. In addition to establishing show-rooms, service centres and other business offices of a major automobile company at Hyderpora, the businessman roped in Tata Teleservices operators who set up Tata Indicom’s master control facility on the premises with expenditure of over Rs 3.50 cr on it. A Tata official is said to have taken extraordinary personal interest in setting up the facility at this complex as he has been notoriously in league with certain SMC authorities on behalf of the owner of the complex.

Sources said that Tata Indicom’s J&K Chief Operating Officer (COO) submitted fake and fraudulent documents to his corporate headquarters with the false certificate that the building owner had lawfully obtained permission from the authorities. Sources in Ministry of Housing & Urban Development revealed that involvement of top SMC mandarins has been established and legal action was being initiated in the matter not only against the building owner but also the companies who have established their offices in the unauthorized complex.

Officials in Tata Indicom, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed that their J&K COO had brought disrepute to Tata Group by setting up facility at an unauthorized building. They, however, said that due to the building owner’s failure to get necessary permission from BOCA for a commercial facility, Tata Indicom decided to set up a makeshift facility at Chhanapora.

According to these sources, nearly 50 of such major defaulters, who have violated norms and master plan, have been identified on either side of the By-pass from Nowgam to Shalteng.

SDA Vice Chairman, Syed Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, claimed to have no knowledge of the violation done by Tata Indicom in league with the building owner and SMC authorities, but he admitted that Government had taken extremely serious note of largescale violation of master plan in Srinagar. He said that a high-level committee had, lately, identified and mapped all unauthorized structures in the capital city. “Hyderpora Bypass area is strictly reserved for residential purpose. There is no question of condoning such violations as it would be viewed as undue and objectionable favour to businessmen and owners of commercial premises”, he said.

Yet another SDA official said that there was no justification to raising such commercial complexes, particularly those which have come up in total violation of master plan and building operation rules after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government’s much-hyped demolition drive in the last five years.

Residents of Hyderpora sounded pessimistic. “There is no question of dismantling these illegal structures. Officers and new Ministers will only blackmail the owners and become silent after taking money from them. They know that there is no accountability in the system”, said Ghulam Mohammad Lone, a schoolteacher.

Sources revealed that SMC officials, particularly Chief Khilafwarzi Officer, was hand-in-glove with owners and operators of commercial complexes who were enjoying one or the other political clout but still paying huge amounts of money to the authorities. They said that a Jammu-based politician-businessman was currently raising the 5th floor of his under-construction shopping mall at Barbarshah. Taking undue advantage of an old flour mill close to his site, this businessman had managed to get permission to construction of a 4-storeyed commercial complex in the area reserved for residential purpose. In full view of public and the authorities, he is now raising the 5th floor without any permission from BOCA.

According to these sources, it had become a modus operandi for the SMC authorities and the businessmen to raise unauthorized structures and condone the same later with the payment of small fines.

Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Tufail Matoo, and Mayor of Srinagar, Salman Ali Sagar, were continuously found either switched off or not reachable.

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CBI report on Shopian is a fraud, DM is lying on troops reduction: Mirwaiz

Nobody in NC, Cong supports Chidambaram in his snub of separatists

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 18: With almost entire separatist as well as mainstream opposition joining hands to discredit CBI’s findings and chargesheet on Shopian and nobody in the two ruling coalition parties---National Conference and Congress---providing any background music to Home Minister P Chidambram, Chairman of a faction of pro-Azadi Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, today dismissed the central agency’s exercise as a sham. The cleric-politician, who looked receptive to the Centre’s suggestion of secret dialogue until yesterday, has also told his Friday congregation audience that Defence Minister A K Antony’s claim of troops reduction in the Valley was patently false.

Even as nobody in the ruling coalition has supported Chidambram in attributing motives to a many separatist and mainstream politicians’ criticism of the CBI report and Omar Abdullah-led government deciding not to take any administrative action against the officials accused of criminal conspiracy by the central agency, Mirwaiz today came out with veritable bombshell on the ‘quiet diplomacy’ on Kashmir. In his weekly sermon at the Friday prayers congregation at Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz alleged that CBI’s three-month-long investigation into the death of two young women---17-year-old Aasiya and 25-year-old Neelofar---had turned out to be a ‘farcical exercise’.

“India has been telling lies with regard to Jammu & Kashmir since 1947. From UN resolutions to holding a fair investigation into the Shopian tragedy, India has never fulfilled any promise. Like the investigations on many massacres, recent one on Shopian has turned out to be a fraud. We completely reject CBI’s investigation as it has exonerated the criminals and framed innocent people who raised their voices against the rape and murder of two of our sisters in Shopian”, Mirwaiz told the gathering. He said that New Delhi had completely lost its credibility in Kashmir and it could be restored with fulfilling the promises made to the Kashmiris from time to time.

“CBI report on Shopian has been made according to India’s national interest. It has done no justice to the two victims of rape and murder and their bereaved families”, Mirwaiz added. While calling it a human tragedy and asserting that there was no scope for making any politics on the Shopian incident, Mirwaiz asked Government of India to assign the investigation to an international organization like Amnesty International and Asia Watch. He said that in absence of such a “credible investigation”, Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) would fully support any agitation called by Majlis-e-Mashawarat Shopian. He wished MMS to take the Hurriyat into confidence with regard to any programme on Shopian.

After treating Chidambaram’s appreciation of the CBI report on Shopian with contempt, Mirwaiz turned towards A K Antony and asserted that the Indian Defence Minister’s claim of having withdrawn two divisions of Army from Jammu and Kashmir was also far from truth. According to him, there was no evidence of any soldier having been removed on the ground. “If it’s true, would the Defence Minister tell us wherefrom the soldiers have moved and what exactly was there destination”.

During the course of his sermon, Mirwaiz sought to make it clear that Hurriyat could not show any enthusiasm for a suggestion of dialogue process until it was supported by “much needed confidence building measures” from New Delhi. “We are not shying away from talks but these have got be meaningful. There has to be a specific Kashmir agenda”, he added in his expression of secondary thoughts on the “quiet diplomacy” and “secret talks”. He emphasized that implementation of Hurriyat’s 5-point formula, that includes withdrawal of troops and release of all political detainees, would create a congenial atmosphere for a dialogue process with New Delhi.

Saluting the Kashmiri youth for being “enthusiastic for freedom”, Mirwaiz, advised the youngsters not to smudge the separatist movement with stone pelting “on our own people and properties”.

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Omar Govt not for action against CBI’s accused in Shopian

Advocate Mubarak appointed as PP in Sept, Dr Sofi as CMO Pulwama

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 16: In marked contrast to its quick action in June and July this year, Omar Abdullah-led coalition government is, of now, holding the opinion of not placing any of the accused officials under suspension even as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has chargesheeted 13 persons, including six doctors and one Public Prosecutor (PP), for ‘criminal conspiracy and fabricating evidence’ in the matter of criminal exploitation of the death of two young women in Shopian.

Highly placed official sources revealed to Early Times today that Government had immediately no plans to take any administrative action, like termination of services or suspension, against any of the doctors and a PP found guilty of criminal conspiracy and criminal exploitation of the death of two women in CBI’s three-month-long investigation. After completing its investigation, CBI has exonerated all the four Police officials, accused of destroying evidences by Special Investigating Team (SIT) of J&K Police, and filed interim chargesheet against six doctors and five lawyers in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar on December 10th.

“As of now, we have no instructions to place any of the doctors under suspension”, a bureaucratic source in Ministry of Health said. Officials in the Ministry of Law & Parliamentary Affairs said that Advocate Sheikh Mubarak, who had been appointed as Public Prosecutor in District & Sessions Court Shopian my Mr Ali Mohammad Sagar in September, had been asked to continuously pursue the state’s cases at his place of posting. A relative of NC’s former MLAs, late Sheikh Mansoor and his son Sheikh Rafeeq, Mubarak is one among the six lawyers who have been charged with criminal conspiracy and fabricating of evidence for the purpose of framing innocent persons by the CBI.

This is reportedly for the first time in the state’s judicial history that a PP, supposed to pursue state’s cases in District & Sessions Court, has been charged with such crime. Even his predecessor, appointed as PP by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government in 2003, is facing the same charges in the CBI challan. Four other lawyers facing similar charges include President of Bar Association Shopian, Advocate Abdul Majeed Mir.

According to informed sources, CBI has obtained call detail record, including taped conversations, of all the six lawyers and established charges against them with the additional corroboration of this material evidence. Their voice samples have been obtained during their questioning at CBI’s camp office in Humhama last month and sent for a detailed analysis and verification to Central Forensic Laboratory Hyderabad. CBI is likely to produce supplementary evidence in its designated court in Srinagar after receiving a report from CFSL Hyderabad later this month.

Almost all the doctors associated with post mortem procedure of 17-year-old Aasiya Jan and 25-year-old Neelofar Jan, whose dead bodies had been found in mysterious circumstances in Rambiara nullah of Shopian on May 30th this year, have also landed in trouble. CBI has framed and filed charges against six of such doctors.

While as Dr Nighat Shaheen, Assistant Surgeon B Grade, and Dr Bilal of Dalal, Assistant Surgeon, had been placed under suspension in the wake of findings of Jan Commission report in July, Government had not initiated any action against four other doctors of the team. Then Chief Medical Officer (CNO) Pulwama, Dr Ghulam Mohammad Paul, has now retired from service but three others---Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, Dr Mohammad Maqbool Mir and Dr Nazia Hassan--- are still posted and serving in the same area.

Dr Maqbool Mir is continuously working as District Health Officer (DHO) Pulwama. Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, then Dy CMO, has been elevated to the senior rank of CMO Pulwama by Omar Abdullah’s government as late as in September this year. In the wake of CBI filing serious charges of criminal conspiracy and fudging of post mortem and per vaginal of the two women, Government is now in a quandary---whether to place them under suspension or ignore the CBI chargesheet. According to sources, Government does not want to take any action that would suggest approval to the CBI report which has been vociferously questioned and disputed by the separatist as well as mainstream Opposition.

On the other hand, Government’s inaction over CBI report, by way of placing the doctors under suspension and terminating the services of the PP, would raise questions over its quick action previously against the four Police officials, one scientific officer of FSL and two doctors before and after Jan Commission report. As of now, Government’s tension in the burning issue is receding fast for the Valley has not come out with a serious reaction and the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has left for New Delhi today on a long winter vacation.

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Sopian women were neither raped nor murdered: CBI

Clean chit to all 4 Police officials
Chargesheet filed against 6 docs, 5 lawyers, including Sagar-appointed PP

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 14: Ending a half-year-long drama in Kashmir valley, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today told Jammu & Kashmir High Court that the married Neelofar Jan and her unmarried sister-in-law, Aasiya Jan, of Shopian, had neither been raped nor murdered. While claiming that the two young women had died due to asphyxia after drowning in Rambiara on May 29 this year, CBI has given clean chit to all the four Police officials who had been booked earlier by a Special Investigating Team (SIT)( of J&K Police, and also filed charges of criminal conspiracy and fabrication of evidence against 13 persons who include a Public Prosecutor (PP) of Omar Abdullah’s government, his predecessor appointed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-led coalition government, President of Bar Association Shopian, one Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and five other doctors.

CBI team, headed by DIG Satish Golchha, appeared before a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Mr Justice Yaqoob Mir, on the fixed date of hearing of the PIL today and revealed that the agency had completed investigation into the alleged rape-cum-murder of two young women of Shopian within the period of two months as earlier stipulated by the court on October 13th. It informed the DB that CBI’s nearly three-month-long investigation, which progressed with continuous support of over a dozen medical and forensic experts from the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi and Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) New Delhi, had established that both the females had died due to asphyxia after drowning in Ramiara nullah of Shopian on the evening of May 29th this year.

According to the CBI findings, neither of the two young women had been either raped or murdered, as widely alleged by family members, residents of Shopian, civil society groups, media and politicians. It held as many as 13 persons guilty of creating a false criminal case, criminal conspiracy and fabrication of evidence and revealed that a chargesheet against them all had been filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Srinagar, which also happens to be the designated court for all CBI cases in Kashmir valley. It provided a copy of the chargesheet and detailed findings of its investigation to the DB and sought permission for an audio-visual PowerPoint presentation in the chambers.

Thereupon, judges hearing the PIL sought a reaction from Neelofar Jan’s husband and Aasiya Jan’s brother, Shakil Ahmed Ahangar, who said that he would not approve “further stripping” of his wife and sister. He said that CBI had fraudulently established it a case of death by drowning even as, according to him, entire Shopian knew that both had been sexually assaulted and subsequently done to death. He said that he had no faith in CBI as it was “India’s biggest agency” that had been assigned with the task of giving clean chit to the criminals. Court provided a copy of the chargesheet to Ahangar and members of Majlis-e-Mashawarat Shopian and asked them to file objections, if any, in the third week of February 2010. They were told that a closer date of hearing was not possible due to the forthcoming winter vacations in the High Court.

Later in the day, DIG CBI Satish Golshha and Dr Dogra of AIIMS gave a PowerPoint presentation before the DB from 1400 hours to 1630 hours which was also witnessed by Principal Secretary to Chief Justice, Registrar Judicial, Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadiri, CBI’s counsel Anil Bhan and others. CBI subsequently arranged a similar presentation for mediapersons at its camp office and Kashmir headquarters at Humhama.

CBI has charged the thirteen accused with making criminal conspiracy (section 120-B), framing public servants with false documents (167), fabricating evidence in judicial process (193), fabricating evidence that can lead to capital punishment of an innocent person (194) and fabricating evidence that can lead to life imprisonment of an innocent person (195-A). It has concluded that the accused had created a false criminal case against those who had not committed any crime.

Those given a clean chit by CBI today include suspended and attached SP of Shopian Javed Iqbal Matoo, Dy SP Rohit Baskotra, SHO Shopian Inspector Shafeeq Ahmed and Sub Inspector Gazi Abdul Kareem.

Six doctors against whom CBI has filed the chargesheet include Dr Nighat Shaheen Chiloo (who had collected false vaginal smear from a number of women and sent it to CFSL), Chief Medical Officer Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, Dr Mohammad Maqbool Mir, Dr Ghulam Mohammad Pal, Dr Bilal Ahmed Dalal and Dr Nazia Hassan. These doctors had been part of the team that claimed to have conducted post mortem and per vaginal of the women on May 30th. Dr Nighat had expeditiously told the crowds that she had found both the women as victims of gang rape and murder.

CBI has also filed the chargesheet against five Shopian-based advocates who include President of Bar Association of Shopian, Advocate Abdul Majeed Mir, Advocate Sheikh Mubarak who was appointed as Public Prosecutor by Omar Abdullah’s government in September this year and assigned with the responsibility of pleading the state’s cases in the court of District and Sessions Judge Shopian, his predecessor Adv Mushtaq Ahmed Gatoo, who had been appointed as PP at Shopian by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government, Adv Mohammad Yousuf Bhat and Adv Mohammad Akltaf Mahand.

In addition to six doctors and five lawyers, CBI has also filed the chargesheet against Shakil Ahmed Ahangar’s cousin, Zahoor Ahmed Ahangar, and another civilian, namely Ali Mohammad Sheikh, both residents of Shopian.

Members of Majlis-e-Mashawarat Shopian rejected the CBI findings, burned copies of the report and shouted anti-CBI slogans outside on the court premises with the allegation that the central investigating agency had fraudulently exonerated the “criminals” and framed those who had raised their voices against the “twin rape-cum-murder”. A CBI spokesperson in New Delhi said in his reaction to the allegation that CBI had completed its investigation with total professionalism, produced the challan before court and it was only for the judge to see whether it was wrong or right.

MMS in protest called for Valley-wide shutdown on Tuesday. It was immediately supported by President of High Court Bar Association, Adv Mian Abdul Qayoom, Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) leader Shabir Ahmed Shah, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik and Bar Association Shopian. In its reaction, PDP too rejected the CBI findings and said that the agency had only proved Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s initial statement---death by drowning---as correct as, according to it, had been apprehended by the masses.

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SKEWPY’s rosy picture carries thorns and thistles for professional grads

It happens whenever bureaucrats are given the role of policy-makers

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 13: NC-led coalition government’s decision of assigning the role of policy-makers to serving as well as retired bureaucrats in the crucial matter of addressing the problem of unemployment in Jammu & Kashmir has turned out to be a blunder. It needs just half-an-hour to realise that so-called Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for the Youth (SKEWPY) contains nothing for 15,000-odd unemployed youth having graduation and post-graduation in medical, veterinary, agriculture and forestry sciences besides engineering and technology.

Perhaps the best thing in the entire bureaucratic exercise is that it has been officially called neither a package nor a policy but simply a ‘programme’. Authors of the much-hyped 38-page document seem to have to applied little mind on the miseries afflicting the graduates and post-graduates of the professional courses. Rather than fulfilling an election manifesto commitment of creating the job opportunities for the unemployed, they have chiefly revolved around the ruling parties’ invariable argument: ‘Unemployment is a global phenomenon; Government can’t provide salaried jobs to everybody’ et al.

According to a prime tabulation in the document, as many as 4,033 completely illiterate people have also registered themselves as ‘unemployed’ at different Employment Exchanges in the last three months. They have been duly accommodated among 4,47,653 individuals looking for a government job. As against the widely circulated figure of 500,000 youth, not more than 3,67,000 people (including 4033 illiterate) have been found to have registered themselves in the said period.

Amalgamation of professional and common graduates of science, arts and commerce with 67, 100 ‘Middle Pass’ and 4,033 ‘Illiterate’ is perhaps hard to understand. The document makes a mention of 945 Draftsmen and 14,311 Diploma Holders but does not carry a break-up of the unemployed with diploma, degree and PG in various professional disciplines. With such kind of an approach, officials do find it easy to establish that almost all the departments were already over-staffed.

With nearly total thrust on transformation of District Employment Exchanges into District Employment and Counseling Centres (DECCs), skill upgradation, wage employment and Voluntary Service Allowance (VSA), the document makes a generic commitment of filling up all substantive vacancies within the financial year of 2010-11. That one sentence makes it a ‘package’ not policy. It also talks of recruiting 100,000 people in government sector in the next 5 years.

The SKEWPY document does not explain as to how the state government would provide job to nearly 15,000 of the unemployed youth who have degrees and diplomas in various professional courses. While a number of such youth have secured inferior jobs of clerks and Rebar-e-Taleem, others have been hopelessly running from pillar to pillar in search of the jobs they have been trained for after facing tough competitions and spending huge amounts of money. Public representatives, not bureaucrats, can understand the plight of these people when their failure to get a government job results into their failure of getting life-partners. For the fear of reaching close to the age-bar of 37 years, a number of them have already committed suicide.

While sleeping over thousands of substantive vacancies, successive governments in the state have rarely gone for reorganization of departments inspite of the fact that the state of once seven districts has 22 districts today. Every second official happens to be “incharge” in Forest, Power and many other departments inspite of Supreme Court of India’s blanket ban on Stop Gap Arrangement.

Government’s statistics apart, fact of the matter is that a linesman in PDD is holding the charge of 20 to 30 sub stations. There haven’t been Chief Engineers available for three to five substantive posts in PDD. All the hospitals and PHCs are running shortage of 30 to 40 percent staff. With no recruitment of ACFs and Range Officers for the last many years and the last trained forest officer reaching superannuation in a few years, Forest and all of its related departments will be without a trained and qualified officer in the next 12 years. There has been neither recruitment of any technical officer nor rules of recruitment in Forest Protection Force since it was created in December 1996.

On the other hand, hundreds of trained professionals are heading to the age-bar even after having completed their degrees or PGs in Forestry and Agricultural sciences over 12 years ago.

Even after publication of the ‘Employment Policy’ document, nobody can stop officials of PSC and SSRB from making rules and criteria of selection for different posts as per the suitability of their favourites.

After this ‘Programme’, Government will have to formulate a comprehensive Employment Policy to ensure either a salaried government job or parallel avenues in private sector for the technically qualified professionals rather than irresponsibly count them among the huge crowd of 4.47 Lakh unemployed, including 4,033 illiterate people.

END


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Bilal Lone: Omar Govt supporting hardliners for vested interest

‘Geelani can’t be a holy cow of Kashmir movement. He was in Assembly when Sheikh was in jail’

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 10: Hitting hard on the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, senior leader of Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz faction) and Chairman of a faction of Peoples Conference, Bilal Gani Lone, today said that the mass agitation in the Valley in 2008 had failed because of the fact that “extremists and fundamentalists’ had tried to exclusively impose themselves on the Kashmiris to hijack the show. He said that everybody in the mainstream politics, from Mehbooba Mufti to Omar Abdullah and his government, had joined hands to provide one or the other support to the Kashmiri hardliners and they were all “at war with the moderate leadership”.

Breaking his 18-month-long silence and responding to questions in Take One Television’s current affairs programme “Face To Face With Ahmed Ali Fayyaz”, 46-year-old separatist leader Bilal Gani Lone observed that all of the pro-India politicians, from PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti to NC’s Omar Abdullah, and his government, were in a race to provide one or the other support to the separatist hardliners like Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “They have a strong vested interest in it. They have all launched a war against the moderates. They are, in fact, creating holy cows to keep the moderates and pro-dialogue leadership at bay”, Lone said of the mainstream politicians.

Lone referred to Ms Mufti’s assertion that no resolution of the Kashmir problem would be complete without Geelani’s signatures on it. According to him, Omar Abdullah’s government had outsmarted that of Mufti Sayeed’s in extolling the hardliners and lending them undue space on the Valley’s political landscape.

“But, I have not given the role of a political martial to Geelani Sahab. Martials are in the Assembly and I have never been to that. I accept him as the representative of a particular political ideology. There is no Sheikh Abdullah in today’s politics in Kashmir. He is being created into a holy cow but I don’t accept him one as he was in Assembly even when Sheikh Abdullah was in jail”, Lone added. “This is an age old political rivalry. Geelani Sahab and my father (Abdul Gani Lone), have been together in the Assembly. I fail to understand how one of them was a good MLA and other a bad MLA”, he asserted with a painful reference to the circumstances that led to his father’s assassination in 2002.

Lone suggested that much more than political ideology, it was the “Pir versus non-Pir” conflict in Kashmir’s society that was behind a many politicians’ animosity to his father and the party. “It is rather a hard fact that the Jamaat-e-Islami cadres in South Kashmir voted for Mufti Sayeed’s PDP in the recent Assembly elections”, he said. When it was pointed out to him that Chairman of his Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was himself a cleric-politician, Lone quipped: “He is a better Pir”. “I’m not afraid of saying this truth. What can they do other than firing a bullet on me?” asked he.

Lone alleged that Mr Geelani and other hardliners had been calling all those who did not toe their line as “traitors” and raising the bogey of “sell out”. He asserted that there was no question of the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat comprising the interests of the Kashmiris in any dialogue process. He said that there was no other way than a dialogue with New Delhi and Islamabad but sought to make it clear that Hurriyat had neither established any contact with the Government of India nor received any offers or assurances for participating in a dialogue process. According to him, Mr Geelani and other hardliners had vitiated the atmosphere with their statements and the same had provoked gunmen to strike on a dove like Fazal Haq Qureshi.

“My father became the target and casualty of an identical situation in 2002. But I have left the matter of his assassination to God. I hope He will do justice one day. We are not holding arms, nor do we know to use them”, Lone added.

Lone claimed that neither Mirwaiz nor his colleagues in the Hurriyat had ever talked of bilateralism. He believed that there was little possibility of tripartite talks at this stage between New Delhi, Islamabad and the Kashmiris and Hurriyat was committed to talking to both India and Pakistan. “Yes, there is bilateralism between India and Pakistan. And I strongly believe that most of our advocates of tripartite talks would jostle to lay their thump impressions on any kind of a deal struck between New Delhi and Islamabad”, he added. He said that certain countries had been persuading India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir crisis in a bilateral process but emphasized that there was absolutely no world pressure on New Delhi.

“There’s no way other than dialogue. For how long could we afford to enjoy the luxury of being leaders of the followers whose children were dying for a penny? Have we got to turn Kashmir into another Afghanistan? Honestly speaking, we have all created fortunes for ourselves and miseries for the poor, ordinary people. He said that pro-India politicians were exploiting their artificial sympathies for the hardliners to the hilt as, neither they nor their counterparts in the separatist movement, wanted to see their shops shut.

“In this kind of a free-for-all, you don’t need any followers. You just need a Chairman, a General Secretary and perhaps one more to launch a party. Extremists and hardliners are the most relevant in such a situation. Money and fortunes flow to most of them from two tracks. We have been on the single track and taken (money) only from one side. That too has been stopped one-and-a-half years ago”, Lone said candidly. “I see the day nearer when everybody of us will be held accountable”. He observed that hardliners were enjoying a field day in the Valley with overt and covert support from pro-India politicians and the government while as the moderates were being selectively attacked and eliminated.

Asked why four particular separatist leaders---Bilal Gani Lone, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulvi Abbas Ansari and Fazal Haq Qureshi---had distanced themselves from the mass agitation in Kashmir over Amarnath land allotment row in 2008, Lone asserted that hardliners had hijacked the show with their jingoism and left little space for reason and moderation. According to him, the Kashmiris had got a “blank cheque” in the form of the land row but their leaders had failed to cash it in the interest of the people.

“Extremists and fundamentalists tried to thrust themselves and their own political ideology on the people, which was not acceptable. They played the spoilsport and failed this nation with anarchy and jingoism”, Lone said. His 45-minute-long interview is scheduled to be telecast in prime time slots of Take One TV network in Srinagar and Jammu this week.

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SKIMS doctors confirm gunshot on Qureshi

Guerrilla alliance warns similar action against other pro-dialogue leaders

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 8: Doctors attending on the traumatized separatist leader at SKIMS have finally confirmed that Fazal Haq Qureshi had fallen to a firearm attack while returning to his home in Bilal Colony of Soura on the evening of December 4th. Meanwhile, an alliance of three guerrilla groups has said that the separatist leader had been fired upon for his infidelity of joining a dialogue process secretly and arranging meetings of underground leaders with the Government of India.

Senior doctors, who were part of the surgical procedure on December 4th and have been attending on 63-year-old Fazal Haq Qureshi at an Intensive Care Unit at SKIMS, today confirmed to Early Times that the separatist leader had been fired upon in his head from the back. Wishing anonymity they maintained that they had observed a gunshot wound which indicated that Qureshi had become the target of a single pistol shot from point blank range. They said that his brain matter had come out and the bullet that pierced into his head had badly damaged one of the vital bones.

Doctors said that Qureshi showed further improvement today as they witnessed some organic movement including once opening his eye. They said that Qureshi was stable but not completely out of danger. According to them, even after his recovery, Qureshi could have some of his vital systems malfunctional or fully dysfunctional. KNS quoted Director of SKIMS, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar, confirming gunfire attack on the separatist.

SSP Srinagar, Javed Riyaz Bedar, said that Police had conducted a surface search around the spot but had not yet recovered any empties of other material evidence to establish that Qureshi had been targeted with a firearm. He, however, added that the search was inconclusive and would continue to find as to how the separatist leader had been assaulted. He said that ballistic experts and doctors were still trying to find if there was a substantial material evidence of an armed attack on Mr Qureshi.

Meanwhile, all alliance of three guerrilla organizations---Al-Nasireen, Farzandan-e-Millat and Shuhada Brigade---has alleged that Qureshi had been attacked after he refused to withdraw from a secret dialogue process with the Government of India. Spokesperson of the alliance, Samee-ul-Haq, said in a statement circulated here that Qureshi had been also arranging meetings of underground leaders with functionaries of the Government of India. “We tried our best to prevent him. We persuaded him against such acts and even sent a delegation to his home in Bilal Colony, Soura. But, unfortunately he refused to take our warning and continued his anti-movement activity”, spokesperson said.

As already reported, Al-Nasireen had claimed responsibility of the attack on Mr Qureshi and warned other pro-dialogue Kashmiri leaders of the same treatment. The militant alliance has warned all separatist leaders that its guerrillas would strike on them if they held any secret parleys with New Delhi. He vowed to fail all attempts of such dialogue process and asserted that nobody would be allowed to emerge as another Sheikh Abdullah in Jammu & Kashmir. He warned all separatist leaders to immediately withdraw from a dialogue process with New Delhi.

Authenticity of the militant alliance’s statement could not be ascertained from independent sources.

Meanwhile, those who visited SKIMS and enquired about Mr Qureshi’s condition today included Minister of Medical Education R S Chib and Minister of State for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani. They directed SKIMS authorities to provide best possible treatment to the traumatized separatist leader and advise the state government if he required air ambulance and more specialized treatment at AIIMS and other hospitals in the country.

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In Kashmir’s changing climate, JKLF chief rubs shoulders with Ministers

YouTube, Reliance radio to carry Terra Naomi’s call beyond Copenhagen

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 7: With the fast changing political climate in this troubled Himalyan state, Kashmir’s separatist leaders have begun to throng hubs of cultural activity, including concerts of Western entertainers---perhaps much more than visiting the tombs of their “martyrs of azadi”. Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman and the Valley’s pioneer of armed insurgency, Yasin Malik, was today conspicuously in attendance, alongwith a number of pro-India politicians and Ministers, at Terra Naomi’s concert on global warming at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre.

Attending the YouTube sensation’s show is definitely not the first for one-time dreaded terrorist Yasin Malik whose transformation has been meticulously illustrated by one of USA’s best read writers a couple of years back. Many at home find it hard to reconcile to Malik’s “transformation”. His nonagenarian mentor and father of one of America’s celebrated poets (Aga Shahid Ali), Aga Ashraf Ali, had taken umbrage to Governor S K Sinha’s reference to the book “Transformation of a Terrorist” at the same spot two years ago.

Even as Malik was not among the selectively invited guests and speakers of a conference co-sponsored by J&K Police in 2007, months later he broke the ice by attending the Golden Jubilee function of the influential Urdu daily “Aftab” at SKICC. Notwithstanding the first ever CRPF bunkers around a media organization coming up on the Aftaab premises in March 1990, Malik used to treat its editor Khwaja Sanaullah Bhat as his father and godfather. He would certainly attend the occasion wherever held.

This was dramatically followed by Malik’s attendance at Tagore Hall of Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture & Languages. What attracted him to the show was the eminent theatre activist Mohammad Amin Bhat’s two-act play “Chhal” (The Trap). It was a wonderful metaphor on developing and flourishing of the vested interest in the armed insurgency. Detractors of “cultural aggression” chose to be mute on Malik’s infidelity as it came in just a couple of years of the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani marking his presence at Tagore Hall on occasion of jurist-writer Ghulam Nabi Gauhar’s book release.

Spitting on the cultural programmes of the state-run Akademi, Geelani had positively responded to Gauhar’s invite after a long absence at Tagore Hall. He had never been seen at this venue after a memorable conference he attended in 1989 with a number of National Conference (NC) leaders, including late Hakeem Habibullah---former Chairman of J&K Legislative Assembly, who successfully and unsuccessfully contested a number of Assembly elections against the senior Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue in home constituency of Sopore. Both men of intellectual pursuit, Geelani and Hakeem had posed for photo-ops with their last hug.

In recent times, death of senior journalists, namely founder-editor of Aftaab Sanaullah Bhat and founder-editor of Srinagar Times Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, has brought together Kashmir’s mainstream and separatist politicians inspite of a bad taste showdown between the supporters of Malik and Geelani at Lalchowk. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and a number of his senior party colleagues and Ministers attended the funeral at both places alongwith who is who of the Valley’s separatist camp.

Many of them have also been making a bee-line to the wounded Hurriyat leader Fazal Haq Qureshi at SKIMS. Even as Geelani’s anti-dialogue brigade kept shouting in Soura “Bharat ka jau yaar hai, gadaar hai gadaar hai (Anybody soft to New Delhi is but a traitor), Geelani walked straight into the ICU at SKIMS and enquired about Qureshi’s health.

At today’s concert on Global Warming, there were no speeches---political or otherwise. Those who enjoyed the thrill with thousands of ecological enthusiast included Minister of Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora and his deputy Nasir Aslam Wani Sogami. An Omar Abdullah-confidante, Sogami played a key role in organizing the show. Many in the audiences believed that Malik attended courtesy longtime friend, Usman Raheem. Usman, an American national claiming that his grandfather and great grandfather had migrated to USA from Kashmir, happens to be the Regional Director of the non-profit Mercy Corps that had organized Terra’s show.

Even as Terra mesmerized her audiences with her globally popular “Say It’s Possible”, her meticulously composed mixture with the Kashmiri fusion “yi chhu bilkul mumkin zenau jang, asi zenai jang, asi zenau jang, yi chhu jang asi panas seet karun” was a great attraction. Shehnaz Rasheed’s appeal against Global Warming and meltin g of glaciers in the Himalayan state was performed with Terra by Waheed Jeelani and a beautifully costumed troupe of a dozen of male and female artistes, supported by an orchestra of six instrumentalists, all from the Valley.

Video of Terra’s song, which was picturized by cameraman Shafquat Habib with her on the alpine slopes of Afarwath and Kongdoori, beyond Gulmarg, yesterday, would be shortly available for millions of viewers on the YouTube. It will be also dominating day and night entertainment programmes of FM 92.7 in Srinagar, Jammu and a few of other cities of the popular radio network which has 47 stations in India.

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Followers remember but leaders forget Abdullah

No reference to Sheikh in Sher-e-Kashmir lecture at SKIMS raising day

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 5: In the pre-1990 halcyon days in the Valley, celebrities like N Palkhiwallah, Khushwant Singh, Adarsh Sen Anand and George Fernandes used to deliver Sher-e-Kashmir oration on occasion of the raising day of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), that falls on the birth anniversary of the former Chief Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. J&K’s prestigious tertiary care hospital and a deemed University had been raised by Sheikh in less than six years. Alongwith the beautiful shrine-cum-mosque complex at Hazratbal, SKIMS indisputably has the distinction of being Sheikh Abdullah’s best contribution to millions of his followers in Valley.

So it was not for nothing that the country’s icons in jurisprudence, literature, art and politics used to devote paragraphs of their lectures on different facets of Sheikh Abdullah’s personality on this day in Srinagar. With Chief Minister and Sheikh’s grandson, Omar Abdullah, being the Chief Guest and Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, as “Guest of Honour”at the 27th Annual Day of SKIMS this afternoon, there was not even a cursory reference to the great SKIMS founder in today’s lecture on “Healthcare scenario in developing parts of world---Economic issues and Challenges”.

Was the author of PDP’s “self-rule” ignorant of Sheikh’s significance and relevance to the commemoration or he thought it prudent to religiously restrict himself to the ‘economic issues’ is something better known to Chairman of the SKIMS Governing Body (Omar Abdullah) and his Director of the hospital, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar. Much like today’s star speaker, Dr Zargar has passed through the ‘Great Transition’ with finesse and established his credentials on all the parameters of political endocrinology and metabolism. He has been invariably taking care to ensure that none of his peers in the Valley’s “Club of Chief Guests’ remained absent from his politico-academic functions.

With his advantage of having at least one diabetic in all the families of consequence in the summer capital, Dr Zargar has obviously little to be worried about over the “triviality” of Sheikh Abdullah’s reference being missing from the lecture. Besides, gone are the days when such things would matter in the political establishment as an altogether new corporate culture has come up and the CEOs do make “better use” of their time.

Sheikh was miserly remembered even on other occasions of the day from Sumarbugh to Ganderbal. That the masters of these shows themselves had simply a lousy knowledge about the man whose birth day they were celebrating, may be one of the reasons.

Main remembrance venue at Hazratbal, which used to have one-odd visitor in late Mohammad Maqbool Khaksaar from 1989 to 1996, was packed to capacity today right from the chilly morning. National Conference (NC) flags, banners and buntings made the occasion unusually ceremonial. While the followers tightened their ranks in Sheikh’s honour and reverence, most of their leaders chose to remain mute. For the first time in several years, there was no ceremonial speech from the Chief Minister even as more than 10,000 of his high-spirited audiences failed to reconcile to his constraint of not unfolding the much-hyped, much-expected ‘employment policy’ of the coalition government. Some of them even shouted slogans in anger as they witnessed the Pheran-clad Chief Minister winding up without saying a word.

Even the fire-brand NC patriarch, Farooq Abdullah, paid more homage to the wounded Hurriyat leader, Fazal Haq Qureshi, than to Sheikh Abdullah, albeit without giving Mirwaiz and Qureshi credit of having a “decent footing” in once Sher-e-Kashmir’s jungle of monopoly in the Valley.

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Hurriyat leader Fazal Haq almost dead in attack

Al-Nasireen’s loud and clear warning to actors of ‘quiet diplomacy’

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 4: Senior separatist leader and a member of the Executive Committee of Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz faction), Fazal Haq Qureshi, today became the first casualty of the cacophony of ‘quiet diplomacy’ and secret dialogue between the Kashmiri secessionists and Government of India when a guman in ambush pumped pistol shots into his head while returning to home after performing the evening prayers at a mosque in Soura outskirts of this capital city. Doctors at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura passed the nearly dead Qureshi through a surgical procedure but maintained that he was “very unlikely to recover”. Hurriyat has pointed fingers on the separatist hardliners and, in protest, called for a shutdown in the Valley on Saturday.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone, Farooq Ahmed, told Early Times that 63-year-old separatist leader, Fazal Haq Qureshi, was found by passers-by lying in a pool of blood at 1750 hours between his usual place of worship and residence in Soura. Residents believed that he had been ambushed by armed assailants immediately after he performed his evening prayers at a local mosque and was returning to his alone, possibly alone. Some people around the spot told Police that they heard at least one gunshot and took it for a firecracker. In minutes, some passers-by spotted Qureshi lying in a pool of blood. He was quickly evacuated to SKIMS where doctors examined him and found him “almost dead”.

IGP said that in view of his general threat perception, Qureshi had been, on several occasions, offered Police protection but he had invariably declined to live as a protected person. He maintained that Police and security forces had not received any inputs suggesting possibility of a terrorist attack on Qureshi.

A founder member of Kashmir’s pioneer guerrilla group ‘Al-Fatah’ in early 1970s, Qureshi had joined Government service after his release from jail. For several years, he worked in Civil Secretariat. Later, he joined pro-Pakistan Peoples League and quit government service. In the year 2000, Qureshi had played key role in arranging the first ever dialogue process between senior commanders of the formidable Hizbul Mujahideen and Government of India, represented in the talks by then union Home Secretary Kamal Pandey. However, the process was aborted within two weeks by Hizbul Mujahideen’s Pakistan-based “Supreme Commander” Syed Salah-ud-din, who developed serious differences with regard to the dialogue process with one time confidante Abdul Majeed Dar.

After Hurriyat’s split in 2003, Qureshi founded a new organization, namely Peoples Political Party (PPP) which was admitted as a constituent of the Executive Committee of Hurriyat Confeence (Mirwaiz faction). Alongwith Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone and Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Mr Qureshi had, of late, emerged as a strongly pro-dialogue leader in the separatist camp. This group of so-called moderate leaders has been facing bitter criticism for favouring bilateral talks with New Delhi and Islamabad separately not only by almost all the militant outfits and hardliners like Mr Geelani but also from colleagues in the Mirwaiz faction of Hurriyat, notably Shabir Ahmed Shah and Nayeem Ahmed Khan.

While most of the separatist leaders in Hurriyat (Mirwaiz), JKLF Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik and a number of mainstream leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, condemned it as a cowardly attack by “saboteurs of the dialogue”, Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, too called it un-Islamic and said that the assailants deserved to be punished. Parallel to a chorus of condemnations, someone called the local news agency, Kashmir News Service (KNS), over telephone, identified himself as Al-Nasireen guerrilla outfit’s spokesperson, Abdul Waheed Sheikh, and claimed that the militants of his organization had attacked Qureshi for being part of the ‘secret dialogue’ with India.

Most of the prominent separatist leaders, notably Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Mohammad Nayeem Khan visited SKIMS and enquired about Qureshi’s condition. IGP Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed, SSP Srinagar Javed Riyaz Bedar and other middle-rung Police officers remained present at SKIMS as long as surgery continued on Qureshi. IGP said that the doctors had operated upon Qureshi and found an entry wound but no exit. According to the doctors who spoke to IGP, a bullet could have ricocheted after breaking a bone in Qureshi’s brain.

Doctors told Early Times that on the initial examination, they found Qureshi’s heart rate and BP zero with no functioning of lungs. They said that the brain matter was found to have come out which was put in place. They said that Qureshi’s recovery would depend much on revival of his lung and heart functioning but maintained that chances of his recovery were bleak. They said that no bullet was found in Qureshi’s head but vital bones were found badly fractured, possibly due to a gunshot from point blank range. After the surgery was completed successfully, Qureshi was removed from Operation Theatre to the ICCU at 2200 hours tonight.

Mirwaiz condemned the murderous attack on Qureshi as a dastardly act by “those who do not want resolution of the Kashmir problem”. He called for a shutdown in the Valley in protest. Mirwaiz said in a reaction to the attack on his colleague that it was the handiwork of “those whose shops could be shut” in the resolution of the Kashmir crisis.

Before today’s murderous attack on Qureshi, a number of prominent separatist leaders---including Mirwaiz Umar’s father Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq (1990), Bilal Gani Lone’s father Abdul Gani Lone (2002), Qazi Nisar Ahmed (1994) and Sheikh Abdul Aziz (2008)---have died in almost identical attacks in the last 20 years of separatist movement in Kashmir.

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Valley impatiently waiting for CM’s Dec 5th speech

Kashmiris look more curious about ‘job package’ than ‘quiet diplomacy’

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Dec 3: Budget Session announcements of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, and Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, have generated so much of high expectations and enthusiasm among the unemployed in Jammu & Kashmir that half-a-million of them have got themselves registered at recruitment exchanges all over the state. Even as both, Omar and Rather, have said in unambiguous terms that the coalition government would draft the state’s first ‘Employment Policy’ and unfold it on occasion of the National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s birth anniversary on December 5th, people at large seem to have mistaken it for an ‘Employment Package”.

Well-placed sources in the government revealed to EARLY TIMES that Department of Planning, functioning directly under Chief Minister, had worked out an employment policy with regard to engagement, regularization and recruitment of gazetted as well as non-gazetted, including class-4th, staff in consultation with different departments in the last about three months. Creation of posts and re-organisation in all government departments, essentially at particular intervals, would now become mandatory.

Sources said that architects of the state’s maiden employment policy were expected to rationalize the system right from notifying the vacancies and drafting of recruitment rules to the process of screening, conducting written tests and interviews. Due to lack of accountability until now, officials with their personal vested interests have been sleeping over the vacancies for decades, referring the same in parts to PSC and SSRB, violating rules concerning in-service promotion and direct recruitment, framing criteria according to the qualifications and merit of their favourites and relatives besides indulging in a host of other manipulative tactics which had, consequently, blocked the entry of merit holders into the government services.

On the other hand, officials in PSC as well as SSRB, have been resorting to different tactics to scupper the prospects of meritorious candidates and pave the way for their favourites. As lately as last fortnight, PSC officials were found to have allotted Jammu centers to Kashmir-based B Sc Forestry candidates who received the admission cards on the eve of the screening test and failed to participate in it. Officials of vested interest have been perpetuating the free-for-all system and declaring all B Sc candidates---including those having degrees in Veterinary Science and Statistics---eligible to appear in the examination for selection of Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACF). With the fraud played by PSC officials to block the entry of B Sc Forestry candidates, most of them from the Valley failed to appear in the test at the Jammu centers.

“I had clearly given my choice of centre as Srinagar. I received the admission slip a day before the screening test and was surprised to find that my centre had been fixed at Hari Singh Higher Secondary School Jammu. Fixing of centers is indeed discretion with PSC but Kashmir-based candidates are examined at Jammu centers only when the number of such candidates is less than 50. But, in this screening test, PSC had received as many as 9500 applications for just 30 posts of ACFs and there was no constraint of fixing Jammu centers for Srinagar candidates”, said Wajahat Waseem (Roll No: 9006066) who has passed B Sc Forestry with ‘A’ Grade four years ago.

“Fixing of the centers is the Commission’s discretion”, said PSC’s Controller of Examinations Ghulam Hassan Mir. He initially insisted that none of Kashmir-based candidates, excluding those who had given such choice in the form, had been fixed in Jammu. However, when a couple of examples were pointed out to him, Mir justified with the argument that it was PSC’s “discretion”.

This fraudulent behaviour of the officials at PSC and SSRB has disappointed Tariq Ahmed Ganai of Dangarpora Shadimarg to the extent that he is dying to get a job of a Forester or even the far inferior Forest Guard. After completing his M Sc in Forestry, Ganai is presently working on his Ph D in Forestry.

“If this non-sense system goes on and Omar Abdullah fails to keep his word of doing justice to the youth, in the next couple of years, Tariq Ahmed Ganai with his Ph D in Forestry will be a Forester or Forest Guard and some bureaucrat’s relative with simple B Sc Statistics will be his ACF, three steps higher”, said one of Ganai’s classmates. He described Forest Minister Mian Altaf as a “man of high integrity” but observed that in understanding such problems, he had proved to be “as illiterate as his predecessors Qazi Mohammad Afzal and Mohiuddin Sofi”. “Sofi Sahab and Qazi Sahab kept wailing till their end that recruitment of ACFs and Range Officers had not taken place through genuine doors since 1984. Now Mian Sahab is being taken for a ride by vested interests”, added he.

It has been widely observed that the trained professionals disappointed by PSC and SSRB have stopped mentioning their professional degrees like MBBS, BV Sc, B Sc Agriculture, M Sc Agriculture, B Sc Forestry, M Sc Forestry, BE, B Tech, ME, M Tech and have been applying for inferior jobs. “Luckiest” of them have been able to lay their hands on the posts of Rehbar-e-Taleem, Junior Assistant, Village Level Workers, Patwaris, Forest Guards, Drivers etc. A number of such youth are also working on pretty inferior positions in some private companies.

Even as parts of the “Employment Package” ---like formation of J&K State Overseas Employment Corporation and creation of 2,000 fresh posts in Health Department---have already rolled out, thousands of unemployed youth in the Valley seem to be eagerly waiting for Chief Minister’s speech on December 5th.

Reports from many localities say that men associated with the job mafia have already fanned out to compile “List of Unemployed”. With their “proven credentials”, like arranging jobs of Constables against cash payment in Budgam and Kupwara districts, these touts of influential men in politics and bureaucracy have since released their “Rate Lists” and are, accordingly, collecting money from the aspirants. Highest rate of Rs 6 Lakh has been fixed by them for the post of Sub Inspectors for which recruitment process is already underway.

On the streets, nobody really seems interested in the Chidambaram-Omar cacophony of “quiet diplomacy”, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s forthcoming visit to Pakistan, Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s campaign for “demilitarization”, outcome of CBI inquiry in Shopian, J&K state getting two Central Universities and the Human Right Inc’s “discovery of mass graves”.

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GANG RAPE OF ECOLOGY-V
CS to Speaker: Govt is helpless, Sir
Comprehensive law to regulate kiln operations being introduced in J&K soon

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Nov 29: In days of the Chief Minister shedding tears on the abnormally changing climate, Chief Secretary, S S Kapur, has politely written to Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Mohammad Akbar Lone, that Mr Omar Abdullah’s government did not possess any legal framework to close down 155 illegal and unauthorized brick kilns in Budgam district. He has, nevertheless, assured the Speaker that the state government had woken up to the 17-year-long gang rape of ecology any a comprehensive law to regulate operation of brick kilns would be introduced soon in Jammu & Kashmir in the form of an Ordinance.

Taking suo moto cognizance of an environmental series in EARLY TIMES issues of 8th, 9th and 13th October 2009, Speaker had written DO NO: LA/J/Spk/06/09 dated 10-11-2009 to Chief Secretary, asking him to get all illegal and unauthorized brick kilns closed down in Budgam district. He had recorded serious concern over the ecological degradation and breakdown of administrative machinery in the letter and told head of the state bureaucracy that several delegations had made similar complaints to him during a recent visit to Budgam. He had written to Mr Kapur that a large number of brick kilns had been set up in Budgam up “in utter violation of the prescribed rules and regulations in connivance with the concerned departments, thereby causing a lot of inconvenience to the people there”.

Quoting a recent inventory prepared by J&K State Pollution Control Board (PCB) and submitted to Chief Minister in July 2009, Early Times had put the number of brick kilns established and operating in Budgam district in brazen violation of over a dozen laws and without PCB’s Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) as 155 out of the total of 202 units.

Highly placed sources in the state government revealed to this newspaper today that in his DO No: CAPD/Food/19/Brick/09 Dated 26th November 2009, Chief Secretary has informed the Speaker that “presently we do not have any legal framework for regulating the activities of the brick kilns as the “J&K Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 1990” enacted during the Governor’s rule in 1990 has not been replaced by an Act passed by the State Legislature”.

“However, the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department has now drafted an Ordinance viz “J&K Brick Kiln (Regulation) Ordinance, 2009” which is shortly being submitted to the State Cabinet for its consideration”, Chief Secretary has written to the Speaker and added: “The issue of illegal use of agricultural/forest land has also been taken care of in the proposed Ordinance, which also seeks to adequately empower the State Government to control the illegal growth of brick kilns”.

Even as Chief Secretary has expressed his Government’s helplessness and pleaded that the Governor’s early 1990s law had never been replaced by a state legislation, sources in Law Department insisted that Government was adequately empowered to dismantle and demolish all unauthorized industrial units, including brick kilns, that had been set up or had been operating without mandatory CTE and CTO from PCB.

“PCB has already issued notices and closed a number of such units, including brick kilns. Had there been no legal framework, how would these have been closed down and removed?”, asked a middle rung official in Law Department, who wished not to be identified. “If Governor’s 1990-model “Brick Kiln Act” has ceased to exist 17 years ago, how are Tehsildars continuously issuing licenses that too without NOC from different departments and necessary consents from PCB?”, asked he. He argued that Chief Secretary should have taken stringent administrative action against such Revenue officers but “by way of expressing government’s helplessness” he had given free sanction to such licenses of unauthorised units.

PCB’s Legal Advisor, Mohammad Maqbool Shah, observed that the new Ordinance, which could be passed as law in the forthcoming session of Legislature, would address a many lacunae in the administrative framework. He said that instead of Tehsildars, Deputy Commissioners were being made as the Licensing Authority. He said that PCB was in possession of a legal framework, duly sanctioned by Parliament and applicable to all states including Jammu & Kashmir, under which notices were being served to unauthorized and violating units and most of these were being closed down under a legal procedure.

Mr Shah said that all such units, particularly the high pollution brick kilns, were supposed to get necessary clearance and consents from PCB under Section 25 of “The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974” and Section 21 of “The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981”. He insisted that PCB was empowered under Section 33 (A) of Water Act and Section 31-A of Air Act to issue closure orders and senior officers of different departments---in case of brick kilns Deputy Commissioners---were bound to implement same. He added that PCB was additionally empowered to prosecute even Heads of Departments and DCs in case they failed to implement the closure orders issued by PCB.

“We have issued notices and subsequently closure orders against 50 illegal and unauthorized brick kilns in Anantnag and Pulwama district in the last two or three months. Now we have identified at least 50 of such kilns for similar action in Budgam district”, Mr Shah said but justified the new Ordinance as, according to him, it would take care of siting criteria and many other things. He informed that the defaulting units were being cleared if they responded positively and took corrective measures within 30 days of receiving PCB’s notice. “However, all the units, including brick kilns, laid in violation of siting criteria are ab initio unauthorized and nobody in the government is authorized to regularize such units. These have to be dismantled under the existing legal framework”, he added.

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Is Rather in the eye of a storm within his Govt?

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Nov 27: Despite retaining massive support in his home constituency of Chrar-e-Sharief in the 7th successive Assembly election in 2008, senior National Conference (NC) leader and Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, has found himself in the worst of his times in the year 2009. His stars have favoured him only to the extent that he has got the charity of a berth in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet---something that eluded his junior colleague and NC crowd-puller Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan or his parallel in Congress party, Choudhary Mohammad Aslam.

Maintaining his unflinching faith and loyalty for godfather Sheikh Abdullah’s party and progeny religiously in the last nearly 40 years, Rather used to be counted among three of the most influential Ministers in Dr Farooq Abdullah’s governments from 1982 to 2002. With stalwarts like Maulana Attaullah Suharwardy, Bashir Ahmed Kitchloo and P L Handoo passing away and men like Mohammad Shafi Uri either getting a dressing down at the hustings or shifting to the Parliament, Rather had for all practical purposes reached a position next only to Chief Minister in his government and President in his party.

While his worse placed colleagues kept sighing over their ‘deletion’, Rather came to be described as a disappointed Minister in the state’s political circles. Politicians as well as bureaucrats began spreading grapevine that Mr Rather wanted an accommodation ‘at par’ with his counterpart in the previous coalition regime, Muzaffar Hussain Baig. With both of his Chief Ministers---Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad---Baig had, for most of his stint, retained key portfolio of Planning alongwith Finance, Law & Parliamentary Affairs.

Paradoxically in the thick of speculations of Planning coming to his way, Rather found himself stripped of even the ornamental Law & Parliamentary Affairs. He reportedly learned from some of his subordinate officials that he had been relieved of Law & Parliamentary Affairs that had gone as a bonus to his newfound detractor and Minister of Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar. A strong contender for Housing & Urban Development, Sagar himself seemed to be hardly content with the poor bounty.

Despite succeeding in getting his favourite, Jalil Ahmed Khan, appointed as Economic Advisor to the state government, days to come were no soothing for Rather. According to insiders, he was never consulted in crucial matters like the coalition government’s political and administrative treatment to Shopian and its aftermath. He also managed to get three of his blue-eyed boys appointed as Directors on Board in J&K Bank but it is hardly a secret that tilt of the balance has been successfully retained by Chairman Haseeb Drabu with seven of the Directors continuing to be on his side.

Irrespective of whether it is embarrassing for Finance Minister, whose government has 53% equity in the bank, or for the Chairman, whose proximity to Chief Minister has been no different to what he had with his political mentor and promoter Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, it has been remarkably observed at Civil Secretariat and outside that the two have never had a formal meeting in the last nearly eleven months.

Well on the timing of formation of the government on 5th January, rumour mills worked overtime to talk of the “Income Tax raid” on a shopping mall in Jammu. They circulated ‘news’ that Mr Rather and his family members had been found as “silent partners” of a well established businessman. Soon it proved to be a hoax. Ever since, there has been a sustained campaign from within the corridors of power to generate one or the other controversy over the expanding business of Mr Rather’s son. The fact that he had raised a hefty loan from a bank well before formation of Omar Abdullah’s government, has proved to be his only good luck.

Rather has not been spared even on occasion of the wedding ceremony of his daughter last month. Without mentioning his name, one of the major newspapers reported that Jammu’s liquor barons had not only arranged expensive bashes for hundreds of guests but had also presented gifts “worth Rs 80 Lakh” to the host.

In quick succession of events, a top office in the government is now reported to have shot off a letter to Directorate of Estates, ostensibly insisting on austerity but implicitly and explicitly freezing all further expenditure on Rather’s and R S Chib’s Ministerial bungalows in Srinagar. “Sir, they have spent Crores on their houses” is what Chief Minister is reportedly hearing every day.

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Poonch comes nearer to Srinagar by 360 Km

Sheikh Abdullah’s ‘Greater Kashmir’ dream comes true with Omar’s Mughal Road driving

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Nov 26: National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s dream of creating road communication links between erstwhile Poonch district (Poonch-Rajouri) and Kashmir, as also between erstwhile Doda district (Doda, Kishtwar) and the Valley, came true after decades today when his grandson and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, drove all the way from Srinagar to Jammu through Mughal Road, linking Shopian township in south Kashmir to Bafliaz township in Jammu division. Chief Minister’s maiden driving on 84-Km long Mughal Road has brought Pooch and Rajouri district headquarters directly nearer to Srinagar by 360 Km and 160 Km respectively.

Chief Minister’s caravan comprised top functionaries of the state government including Minister for R&B, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, Political Advisor to Chief Minister, Devender Singh Rana, Director General Police, Kuldeep Khoda, Commissioner/Secretary R&B, Mehboob Iqbal, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Naseem Lanker and Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Farooq Ahmed. Notwithstanding Omar Abdullah’s and Farooq Abdullah’s two public meetings at Paharis-dominated Karewa Manloo in the last two months, it was significantly Chief Minister’s first driving through Shopian township after the volcanic eruption over alleged rape-cum-murder of two young woman on May 29th this year.

Finding the once burning south Kashmir district headquarters indifferent to Omar’s passage, authorities seemed to have decided to put in place minimal security. There were no signs of resentment, protest or hostility when Chief Minister’s cavalcade passed through the main road which has the two ill-fated women’s house just 10 yards away.

Wending his caravan’s way through the battered forest compartments of Hirpora towards the historic highway spots of Dobjan and Nandansar, Omar showed little concern over wanton transformation of the forest land into potato fields. A little ahead, he appeared to be satisfied with the way Central Empowered Committee of Supreme Court of India had forced the authorities to deposit a sum of over Rs 10 Crore for proper protection and conservation of the habitat of the nearly extinct goat species, Markhor. At several briefings, Chief Minister has learned from Wild Life authorities how steps were underway for recovery of Markhor at Hirpora in Shopian and Limber Lachhipora in Uri.

Addressing a public gathering at Dobjan, Chief Minister said that it was the dream of his grandfather, Sheikh Abdullah, to re-link Poonch-Rajouri with Srinagar via Shopian through this historical route which was the most favourite of ordinary and royal commuters during Mughal period and thereafter. He said that the foundation stone had been, indeed, laid a couples of years before but work on Mughal Road was actually expedited during the regime of former Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. He said that Mr Azad had done a great service to his home state by arranging funds worth hundreds of Crores and making the project a reality.

Chief Minister said that He said that without the support of Central Government, this much maligned road communication project would never have taken off and become a reality. He expressed his personal gratitude to UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who took keen interest and provided Rs 670 crore for completion of this road. He said today he deliberately came to have first drive on this road along with R&B Minister and other officers and media to ensure that this road was formally thrown open for common vehicular traffic in June next year. He said the road required further upgradation and final macadamization.

From Dubjan, Chief Minister along with Ministers and media in hundreds of vehicles proceeded towards historical Mughal Sarai. The Mughal Sarai, which was the way side shelter centuries earlier was existing with the same glory on the side of the Mughal road. He came down from his vehicle and stopped at Mughal Sarai alongwith the team and asked execution agencies to immediately form a project for development of this sarai.

From Mughal Sarai, the Chief Minister’s caravan proceeded straight to Peer de Gali where Omar stopped for half an hour and interacted with mediapersons. He said that landscape, snow all around and the mountains were the green devdar trees and every corner of the road was enchanting and full of beauty and glory which made this drive more memorable and fascinating for him.

Thereafter, Omar drove straight to Bafliaz, the off-take point of Mughal Road on the strategic Jammu-Raouri-Poonch Road. Hundreds of people waiting for the cavalcade included Ministers of State, Shabir Ahmad Khan, Aijaz Ahmad Khan besidses MLAs Choudhary Mohammad Aslam, Rachpal Singh and Aijaz Ahmad Jan. After addressing a gathering, Chief Minister drove all the way to Jammu through Rajouri.

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‘World’s most beautiful prison’ becomes ‘India’s integral part’ for EU

Europeans visit J&K to teach Mirwaiz, Yasin Malik a whole new Greek on Kashmir

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ

SRINAGAR, Nov 25: Plush with the artificially created euphoria in the vernacular Press over the Libyan leader Gaddafi’s observation on Kashmir and China’s stapled visas to some Kashmiris, Valley’s separatist leadership has been nosedived to an anti-climax with a never-before statement by a European Union delegation. At an inter-face with media here yesterday, members of the delegation called J&K “an integral part of India” and observed that the situation was returning to normality fast. It came in just six years of the EU delegation in Srinagar calling Kashmir “the world’s most beautiful prison”. Significantly, EU’s volte face also came when Chairman of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was busy in telling the Kashmiris how there was “maslaa Kashmir kii goonj” all over the world. Perhaps more significantly, the Europeans exploded the myth of world support to Kashmiri separatists in presence of JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, whose face, understandably, turned red.

Change of heart in the West has not come overnight. In the last over 13 years, the Americans and the Europeans have exhausted their patience in teaching the Kashmiri secessionists how establishing the representative character in a democratic manner was fundamental in winning recognition to their leadership and cause. Gone are the days when one-dimensional generations in the Valley would take BBC as England and Voice of America as United States of America. The make-believe world from Nowhatta to Maisuma and Hyderpora has itself fragmented to the extent that there are now innumerable factions of all separatist alliances and their constituents---with just a couple of exceptions.

Much more than “one hundred thousand sacrifices”, Hurriyat and other conglomerates have forced their movement to rest on myths and fantasies. Even before 9/11, followed by blasts in London’s buses and trains, that made all non-Muslim nations as natural allies against the Islamist insurgencies, Kashmir’s separatist leadership had begun to see outward for “political, diplomatic and moral support”. Soon after Shabir Shah was dismissed on account of his infidelity of a meeting with the US Ambassador, the competition in rubbing the shoulders with the diplomats became grotesquely manifest in the Valley’s separatist camp. These diplomats---and their drivers---could not be too na├»ve to understand how Kashmir’s Mahatma Gandhis and Nelson Mandelas stole their relevance out of their fabulously arranged photo sessions with the foreigners.

Amid EU’s volte face, China too has thrown a dampener on the Valley’s separatist camp and withdrawn its “support” that had been exuberantly eulogized by men like Mr Geelani. Relying more on foreigners than your own people is often fraught with such consequences.

One-upmanship in the Valley’s separatist camp has betrayed itself from day one of the armed insurgency, or at least from the day of British Parliamentarian Coffman’s visit in 1990. It has been no fewer than internecine clashes among the guerrilla outfits that became the mark of identification for the Kashmiri separatist movement till its armed strength was neutralized within and without. Hurriyat reduced itself to just a postal address of the armed insurgents as it allowed them to capture entire space and never condemned any of the thousands of brutal killings they did , on varied persuasions, on the people they claimed to represent. Nobody expected them to be critical of those done on people of other communities. Perhaps all these people joined hands to teach their “leaders” a lesson of their life in the Assembly elections of 2008.

Yes, of course, this leadership has ironically got a lease of life at home in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s playing second fiddle to not only PDP but also to Hurriyat in the last 10 months, in disregard to the mandate he got in Assembly followed by Lok Sabha elections. He needs to be a resident of Srinagar to understand that the poor people in Valley buy newspapers to find SSRB and PSC notifications on government jobs not to read speeches of their discredited politicians. He would have to think why Yasin Malik has ceased to go on his weekly hunger strikes; why Kuldeep Nayar became sick of offering tumblers of juice to break such fasts; why, at last, Madhu Kishwar, wrote a ripper to the incorrigible JKLF Chairman; why Sajjad Lone contested elections; why USA and UK turned down visa to Mr Geelani; why the hardliner pro-Pakistan leader is not showing any inclination to visit that country.

All this being Greek to Chief Minister, who has no training in hypocritical politics, he is within his right to buy all of Mr Geelani’s phraseology---‘it’s a political, not an economic problem’---as he appears to be programmed to outsmart his mainstream rival, PDP, in the only language New Delhi has recognized in Kashmir.

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Mirwaiz declares ‘Emergency’ in Hurriyat
Before joining ‘quiet diplomacy’, top office-bearers dismissed, committees dissolved

AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
SRINAGAR, Nov 23: Smelling a revolt by some colleagues in the Executive Council and several defiant constituents in the General Council, Chairman of the secessionist amalgam, Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz faction), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has dismissed top office-bearers and also dissolved all committees of the alliance amid speculations of his visit to Pakistan and joining a dialogue process, separately with New Delhi and Islamabad, for the purpose of seeking a solution to the 60-year-long Kashmir problem. Fearing an in-house tension, Hurriyat has meanwhile deferred Mirwaiz-led delegation’s visit to Pakistan.

With a number of Hurriyat (M) leaders speaking hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s language of “only solution through implementation of the UN resolutions or tripartite talks” and several constituents of the General Council holding “secret meetings”, Mirwaiz today took a day-long meeting of the decision making Executive Council at the alliance headquarters at Rajbagh. All the eight constituents of the Executive Council participated in the meeting and they were represented by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (Awami Action Committee), Professor Abdul Gani Bhat (Muslim Conference), Bilal Gani Lone (Peoples Conference Bilal faction), Shabir Ahmed Shah (Democratic Freedom Party), Aga Syed Hassan Al-Moosavi (Anjuman-e-Sharie Shia’an), Masroor Abbas Ansari (Ittihadul Muslimeen) and Mukhtar Ahmed Waza (Peoples League Sheikh Aziz faction).

Sources present in the meeting revealed to Early Times that the participants expressed serious concern over dissenting voices emerging within the separatist fold. There was consensus over the fact conflicting policy statements “at a very crucial stage” would only create the picture of a “house in disorder” that could lead to a dangerously confusing situation. Feeling the need of a major overhaul in the structure, Executive Council authorized the Hurriyat Chairman to dismiss all the office-bearers, excluding himself, as also to dissolve all the four committees and sub committees.

Those, subsequently, removed from the top positions included Provincial President Kashmir (Nayeem Khan), Spokesperson (Prof Abdul Gani Bhat), Media Advisor (Syed Saleem Geelani) and Chief Administrator at the headquarters (Shabir Ahmed Dar). Sources said that with the mandate of the Executive Council, Mirwaiz dismissed all other office-bearers and also dissolved all the committees, including the Human Rights panel. He would continue to function as Chairman of the conglomerate, reconstitute the bodies and appoint new office-bearers “in due course of time”.

Sources said that in accordance to the consensual decision taken in the meeting, Chairman imposed blanket ban on issuing any kind of statements to the Press or public by anybody in the Hurriyat and its constituents. Executive Council member Shabir Ahmed Shah and General Council member Nayeem Ahmed Khan had, of late, issued statements and made speeches that sounded in conflict to those made by Mirwaiz. Few others in the alliance had publicly dismissed Mirwaiz Umar’s receptivity to New Delhi’s offer of dialogue with the Kashmiri leadership and a refrain on “quiet diplomacy”. They had unambiguously rejected any kind of bilateral talks and asserted that any dialogue process in absence of Pakistan’s participation and involvement would end up into a meaningless exercise. Using Mr Geelani’s language, they had claimed that Kashmir’s solution lay in nothing but implementation of the UN resolutions, asking the state subjects to vote either in favour of accession to Pakistan or to India.

According to these sources, Mirwaiz has immediately deferred his visit to both Pakistan and China. “There is no such possibility in at least next two weeks”, said a well-placed source in the Hurriyat.

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DD Kashir projects allotted to 30 J&K officials, including SSP
Lion’s share goes to employees of Education, Health, Handicrafts and DD
Early Times Report
SRINAGAR, Nov 22: In brazen violation of the national broadcaster’s rules, policies and guidelines, besides service rules and regulations of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, Doordarshan authorities at ‘Mandi House’ in New Delhi have allotted projects worth Lakhs of Rupees to more than 30 regular government employees in the front names of their wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and other family members. Even as most of these beneficiaries of the dubious process of commissioning in DD Kashir belong to the state’s Education and Health departments, at least one of them is holding the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).

With the DD continuously refusing to post the names and credentials of the allottee producers on its website, insiders have revealed to Early Times that the selection committee, functioning under the command of Controller of Programmes and Deputy Director General (DDG), Ananya Banerjee, has allotted a drama serial of 13 episodes to a Jammu-based SSP---all in the name and banner of his wife. According to these sources, Shukat Saleem Bukhari of SSB Films, who figures among the allottees, is still continuing as a regular employee in State Health Department.

Serials and other programmes have also been allotted to a Government Higher Secondary School Principal, Syed Yaqoob Dilkash (in the name and banner of his wife Qudsiya Dilkash), State Board of School Education employees, Aziz Hajini, Shaukat Usman and Altaf Hussain, in the name of their sons and brothers, University of Kashmir employee G M Wani in the name of his son, Forest Department employee Gul Javed in the name of his wife Mubeena, Power Development Department JE Shehzad Hussain in the name of his wife Rifat, Handicrafts Department employee Mohammad Shafi Mughal, Government Press employee Junaid Shah, Javed Geelani, Raja Majeed, Bashir Andrabi and over a dozen others in the names of their family members.

Almost all of these backdoor beneficiaries have been associated with Dooradrshan in different capacities but being regular government employees they are not eligible to function as private producers. Business activity of regular government employees is unlawful under Civil Service Rules and Regulations. Anybody found guilty is liable to punishment of fine and imprisonment of up to two years in addition to termination of his services.

As a modus operandi, all these backstage beneficiaries have launched fake banners in the names of their spouses, siblings, parents and other family members and managed to grab DD’s projects on front names. Most of them are additionally identifiable by the common factor of being the “directors” of the serials allotted to their front banners. It facilitates them to escort their front producers and participate in their presentations before DD’s selection committee at the Mandi House.

Even as state government’s Education and Health Departments have written letters, asking DD not to empanel their employees as producers and directors as also not to engage them in any other capacity with the television programmes without the written permission of their Heads of Departments, DD authorities have pushed everything under the carpet. “It has created a lot of indiscipline and absenteeism as these actors and writers never discharge their duties. Whenever we hold them accountable and freeze their salaries, they manage to get one or the other intervention from their contacts in the government”, lamented a senior official of Education Department.

Sources revealed that DD had not sought any permission of HoD or NOC of their administrative departments from the state government employees, unlawfully operating as “private producers”. There is a provision in the empanelment as well as in the contracts that the allotments would be cancelled if any information given by the producers was found to be incorrect or suppressed for any purpose. However, fact of the matter is that DD authorities have shut their eyes inspite of knowing well about the background of these impostors.

Some of the private producers, like Omar Imtiyaz, who has been empanelled as Producer for the first time, have been allotted the highest number of programmes i.e. 13 episodes and placed parallel to eminent producers like Farooq Masoodi and Zamir Ashai and far ahead of senior most producers and directors like Bashir Dada, Mudasar Nehvi and Pervez Masoodi, who have got just 6 to 8 episodes each. Until a couple of years, Imtiyaz was a regular employee with state Handicrafts Department. Nobody knows how he has managed to get experience certificate and profile of a private producer of more than five years in the job.

DDK Srinagar official, Gulab-ud-din Tahir, who has been handpicked by Ms Banerjee and is the one-odd official from Jammu & Kashmir associated with the DD Kashir commissioning, has reportedly issued fake telecast certificates in favour of over 50 of his favourites, including Imtiyaz, which has allegedly facilitated their empanelment through fraudulent means. A large number of eminent filmmakers and producers, who have stood by Doordarshan in the worst of its times in J&K, have been, in the process, either completely sidelined or accommodated just with peanuts of 2 to 6 episodes.

Yet again, nobody in the offices of DD’s Director General, Aruna Sharma, and DDG incharge DD Kashir, Ananya Banerjee, responded to phone calls when this newspaper attempted to get their clarification. Even after five weeks of issuing the approval letters, DD has not updated its website and its last posting on the domain are DD Kashir commissioning guidelines of 2007-08.
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