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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interlocutors begin interaction with Kashmiris

Govt using all of its good offices to arrange meetings with separatists

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 23: Congress-led UPA government’s lately constituted three-member team of interlocutors on Jammu & Kashmir today arrived in this capital city on its maiden visit with the challenging task of interacting with diverse shades of political opinion to find a resolution to the unrest in the border state. Even as hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has dismissed Centre’s fresh initiative as “non-serious” and called for total boycott to the “futile exercise”, political establishment from New Delhi to Srinagar has begun all possible efforts to arrange some meetings of the Kashmiri separatists with the interlocutors.

The three-member team, comprising eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former Central Information Commissioner, M M Ansari, reached here today to kickstart a fresh process of interaction with the people of different political ideologies, particularly the separatists who have made the government systems defunct with street demonstrations, stone pelting, arson and shutdowns since June this year. Over a hundred civilians have died in different incident of Police and armed forces action in the Valley since June 11th while as over 2,000 civilians are estimated to have sustained injuries. According to official statistics, two civilians and a Police constable also got killed in attacks of the stone pelting groups and around 4,000 Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries. Public properties worth more than Rs 100 Cr were also destroyed during the current spell of agitation.

Authoritative sources told Early Times that members of the Central team today called on the former Chief Minister and senior Vice President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who briefed them for over an hour on international and domestic political aspects of the Kashmir problem as also the “administrative incompetence” of Omar Abdullah-led coalition government. According to these sources, Baig dwelt at length on PDP’s concept of ‘self rule’ and asserted that peace would remain elusive to the Valley until the Kashmiris living in territories under Pakistan’s control were associated with a political solution. He claimed that a united council of the elected legislators from both sides, without prejudice to sovereignty of the two countries, would be a symbolic but highly significant development to ease out tension and thus douse of flames of over six decade long conflict.

Before the detailed interaction with Baig, Ansari paid his obeisance at Hazratbal shrine and two of his associates---Padgoankar and Kumar---met a number of political prisoners at Srinagar Central Jail. With the help of Police authorities, Padgoankar and Kumar also met detained Chairman of National Front and a senior leader of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference. Sources said that on the directions of the state government, jail authorities produced a number of separatist activists, including some former militants, before the two interlocutors. All of them invariably maintained that ‘Azadi’ (separation from India) would be the only solution to the Kashmir dispute.

From their interviews to media at SKICC and their government guest house at Sonwar to their meeting with the political prisoners at Central Jail, the interlocutors, particularly Padgoankar, maintained that Jammu & Kashmir was a “disputed state” and Pakistan was a party to the 63-year-long dispute. “Had it not been a dispute, why should we have been here?” Padgoankar asked correspondent of a national television news channel. He and his associates made it clear that they make all possible efforts to meet all shades of political opinion, particularly the youth engaging in stone pelting and the separatists angry over human rights abuse by Police and armed forces. They said that they were keen to interact with the young students and understand their aspirations.

The interlocutors revealed that they would be regularly visiting J&K in the next 10 months and staying here for at least ten days a month before formulating and submitting their report to the Prime Minister.

Early Times learned from well-placed sources that notwithstanding Geelani’s boycott to the Central team, government agencies from New Delhi to Srinagar were making “all possible efforts” to arrange meetings of certain separatist leaders with the interlocutors. Sources did not elaborate but indicated possibility of a couple of “secret meetings” between some separatist leaders and the interlocutors. Unlike recent “reality shows” with the all-party delegation of MPs, these meetings, if matured, could take place by night, far away from the media limelight.

Sources said that inspite of their public posturing, some of the prominent separatist leaders had already given their “green signal” to individual intellectuals for meeting with the interlocutors with a brief on removal of bunkers, initiating government action against “killers” of over 100 demonstrators, release of political detainees, revocation or at least amendments to Armed Forces Special Powers Act, involving Pakistan with the dialogue process and declaring J&K formally as a “disputed territory”. Like their recent meetings with President of India and others in New Delhi, besides earlier meeting with the MPs in Srinagar, these advocates of Azadi are expected to meet the interlocutors in the next three days in Srinagar.

CM promotes 5 SOG men for Massarat’s arrest

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Oct 22: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is also Home Minister in the state, has granted one rank up out-of-turn promotion in favour of five officials of Special Operations Group (SOG) Srinagar on account of their success in arresting the Valley’s most wanted separatist activist and Hurriyat (Geelani) Vice Chairman, Massarat Alam Bhat, early this week. The man behind enforcement of over one hundred shutdowns and street clashes with Police and security forces, that left over a hundred civilians dead in retaliation in the current year, was picked up by Srinagar Police from the residence of his maternal uncle in Telbal on October 18th.

Those who were promoted and personally honoured with the new ranks by Chief Minister at his residence on October 19th included one Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) who was promoted as Sub Inspector, one Head Constable who was promoted as ASI and three constables and selection grade constables.

Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone,S M Sahai, has today  issued promotion orders in respect of one hundred and sixty-three Head-constables  of Kashmir Zone as Assistant Sub-Inspectors, following recommendations of the departmental promotion  committee.

The IGP has also approved another one hundred and twenty-one Head-constables for next promotion, subject to their successful completion of promotion courses.
The DPC, scrutinized the service records of three hundred and twentyfive Head constables. Out of these two hundred and eighty four Head constables were found fit for promotion, while twenty five were unfit and sixteen cases were kept in sealed cover as they were facing departmental proceedings at present.

The DPCs in respect of other promotions to the rank of selection grade constable and Head constable are also in progress and will be completed soon, said a press release from Zonal Police Headquarters.

All 3 ultras found dead in Srinagar gunbattle

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Oct 22: Even as Police and security forces are still in search of a 3-member fidayeen group of Jaish-e-Mohammad, reportedly planning “a major strike” around the visit of the US President Barack Obama in first week of November in Bandipore-Srinagar belt, a fierce gunbattle in Srinagar outskirts of Shalteng-Maloora has ended with recovery of dead bodies of all three holed up militants.

Official sources told Early Times that dead body of the third militant was recovered today from the debris of a residential house that had been destroyed during day-long gunbattle between three holed up militants and security forces on at Zari Mohalla of Maloora, on Srinagar-Bandipore Road on Thursday. The militant found killed today was identified as Saiful Islam. Two of his associates, identified as Yusuf Bhai alias Arshid Youni and Mumtaz, had been found killed last evening. Sources said that the three dead bodies were handed over to civilians of Nowgam area who reportedly buried them after performing necessary religious rituals.

Sources said that three AK-56 rifles and a large quantity of ammunition and accessories were recovered from the site of the encounter. Recoveries and radio intercepts indicated that all the three slain militants were members of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit. Officials believe them all as Pakistani nationals even as an intercept indicated that Yousuf Bhai was a Burmese national, trained in Afghanistan.

Sources said that working on some intelligence inputs, Police and Army were in search of yet another group of three foreign militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad that had been reportedly planning “a major strike” around the visit of the US President Barack Obama in Bandipore-Srinagar belt in the first week of November.

As already reported, yesterday’s encounter at Maloora was the first bloody confrontation between militants and security forces in the capital city after a major gunbattle at Lalchowk on January 6th. Middle of the year remained turbulent with street clashes and shootouts that left over a dozen demonstrators killed in Srinagar alone.

Guns roar after stones fall silent; 2 ultras killed
Jaish group was on way to attack Srinagar Army camp ahead of Obama visit

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 21: In a joint operation, Police and Army today foiled militants’ plan to strike on a military formation in Srinagar ahead of the US President Barrack Obama’s visit to India. Troops were in search of a militant who was suspected to be hiding in Maloora village, on Srinagar-Bandipore Road, even as two heavily armed militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit, including a Myanmar national trained in Afghanistan, got killed in the day-long gunbattle in the capital city outskirts.

Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, told Early Times that Police and Army carried out a joint operation at village Maloora in Srinagar outskirts, on Srinagar-Bandipore Road, on the basis of a specific information in the forenoon today. He said that all three militants of the group hiding at a residential house were believed to have died in the day-long gunbattle even as only two dead bodies had been recovered. He said that Police and troops were in search of the third militant who could be either arrested or declared dead only after recovery of his dead body.

On the basis of radio and telephone intercepts and some documents recovered from the site of the operation, DGP said that the militants killed had been identified as Yusuf Bhai and Mumtaz. He said that the Jaish group was on way to Srinagar to strike on a military camp at Haft Chinar ahead of the US President Barrack Obama’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi. Quoting a Lolab-based Jaish commander Sajjad Afghani’s radio intercept with his headquarters in Pakistan, DGP said that it was actually a group of four foreign militants, namely Qari, Saiful Islam, Afadullah and Yusuf Bhai alias Arshid Youni. According to the intercepts, Yusuf Bhai was a Burmese militant of Jaish-e-Mohammad who had been meticulously trained in IED fabrication and explosions in Afghanistan.

However, officials directly associated with the operation insisted that two separate groups of fidayeen had set out for Srinagar from Bandipore on October 18th. According to them, six to eight foreign militants and two local guides had planned to carry out “a major strike” in Srinagar around the forthcoming visit of the US President Barrack Obama to New Delhi next fortnight. Some of the officials believed that the target was a military intelligence camp at Haft Chinar but others said that militants could well be planning a civilian massacre to attract the world attention towards Kashmir’s separatist movement. As many as 35 members of the minority Sikh community had died in a similar atmosphere during the visit of then US President, Bill Clinton, at Chittisinghpura village in Anantnag district on March 20, 2000.

Some of the militant groups have, however, issued statements earlier this week while cautioning people that the Indian security forces and agencies could enact Chittisinghpura-type carnage during Obama’s visit “to defame the freedom struggle”.

Sources said that Police and Army had laid nakas at different spots immediately after receiving information regarding passage of six to eight militants and two of their guides from Bandipore to Srinagar. A Srinagar SOG party checked vehicles for several hours at Shadipora, Sumbal, on Wednesday. It was only late last night that a group of three militants and a local guide were found to be hiding in Maloora village. Troops of Rashtriya Rifles 02 Bn and men from SOG Srinagar maintained a tight cordon but avoided house-to-house searches until Bandipore Police today identified the hideout.

SOG and troops zeroed in on the particular house and engaged the holed up militants in a fierce gunbattle. Some of the officials insisted that all three of the holed up militants got killed and their Bandipore-based guide was arrested. However, some others said that one of the three holed up militants was believed to have escaped from the cordoned area this afternoon. SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, confirmed the arrest of the Bandipore guide, Gulzar Ahmed, and added that the target was destroyed in the operation. He said that the search would resume for the third possible dead body in the morning on Friday.

Two helicopters, which landed close to the site of the encounter, ferried senior Army officials and remained ready to carry the injured, if any, to a base hospital. However, DGP and other officials claimed that there was no collateral damage. GOC of Kilo Force, SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari and SP City (West) Amit Kumar personally supervised the operation.

Today’s gunbattle in Srinagar outskirts happened over 10 months after some militants had clashed with Police and CRPF in fidayeen style at the business hub of Lalchowk on January 6th this year. Valley witnessed months of continued turbulence after a teenaged student Tufail Matoo died allegedly in teargas shelling on a stone pelting crowd of civilians in downtown Srinagar on June 11th. Over a hundred civilian demonstrators, including some arsonists, died subsequently in violent clashes with Police and paramilitary forces. Turmoil has receded to a large extent as no fatal casualty has taken place after 18 civilians and a Police constable died in fierce clashes on September 13th.

As many as 40 militants have died in different gunbattles with Police and security forces in Kashmir valley in the last two months. However, not a single encounter has happened in Srinagar and its outskirts since January 6th.

Nizam absent, Naeem gets bail in Omar defamation suit

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Oct 20: PDP’s spokesman and former bureaucrat, Naeem Akhtar, was granted bail today in the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge, Srinagar, Mr B L Bhat, even as his co-respondent and senior party colleague, Nizam-ud-din Bhat, failed to appear in person, reportedly due to his preoccupation with Ladakh Hill Development Council elections.

On behalf of Chief Minister and Chairman of J&K State Power Development Corporation (PDC), Omar Abdullah, Government had filed a criminal complaint against the two PDP leaders on September 29th, and later a civil suit in the court of Principal District & Sessions Judge Srinagar. Government action against the PDP leaders came after a group of PDP legislators held a press conference in Srinagar on Aug 25th and leveled allegations that Chief Minister had received kickbacks worth Rs 500 Cr from a private company on account of issuing allotment for construction of 690 mw power project at Rattle in Jammu.

Responding to the bailable warrants issued earlier, Naeem Akhtar appeared in person in the court today. After his counsel assured the court that Akhtar would be available as and when required during hearing of the matter, bail was granted in favour of the accused. Court issued fresh warrants, asking co-accused Nizam-ud-din Bhat to cause his personal presence on the next date of hearing, on December 4th.

Massarat refers to Omar, Krishna to justify ‘freedom struggle’

He stayed around his home, moved on bike, uploaded FaceBook for 4 months

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 19: Hurriyat (G) General Secretary, Massarat Alam Bhat, who carried the tag of Kashmir’s most wanted separatist activist as also a huge cash reward on his head, was “underground” in Police records until yesterday. Now in Police custody, Alam has revealed that for all the last four months he had stayed in his Zainadar Mohalla locality, besides houses of his relatives, used a motorcycle to hide his identification on the streets and uploaded incendiary data and videos on FaceBook through a Tata Indicom data card without any fear of a Police raid.

Highly placed authoritative sources, associated with the interrogation of the detained Vice Chairman of Muslim League and Hurriyat (G) functionary, revealed to Early Times that Massarat Alam remained neither defensive nor apologetic during his sustained questioning.

In order to justify his association with the Kashmir “freedom struggle”, Alam even referred to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s recent controversial statement over Jammu & Kashmir state’s accession to India. Sources said that the detained separatist activist pointed out how none other than India’s Minister of External Affairs, S M Krishna, as well as the union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, had supported Omar. This, according to Alam, was “the most emphatic vindication of the stand of Hurriyat Conference” that has been calling the state’s accession to India as “temporary” and seeking a final settlement through a Plebiscite under 60-year-old UN resolutions or tripartite talks between New Delhi, Islamabad and “real representatives of the Kashmiri people”.

Police and intelligence agencies are yet to start formal interrogation of the detained separatist activist even as First Additional Munsiff of Srinagar today remanded Alam to Police custody for five days. A large number of the members of High Court Bar Association waited for several hours until Massarat Alam was produced before the judicial magistrate at 1700 hours this evening. The judge ordered that necessary medical treatment be provided to the detainee, his family members and counsels be allowed to see him in custody and grounds of detention be made available to the concerned. Thereafter, SDPO Nehru Park straightway whisked away Alam to headquarters of SOG Srinagar that stands designated as an additional lock-up of Police Station Sadar since 1994.

According to the informed sources, Massarat Alam was “underground” in Police records since June 24th this year. Now in Police custody, he has revealed that for most of these days, he had conveniently put up at residences of his neighbours, friends and relatives in his Zaindar Mohalla locality. During this period, he stood less than 200 yards away from the offices of Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar. He, however, claimed that he had never slept at his own house in the last four months.

Sources said that Alam had also stayed at the houses of his friends and relatives at Chinkral Mohalla Habbakadal, Qarfalli Mohalla, Pandan Nowhatta, Umar Colony Soura, Khanyar and Telbal. Finally, one of meticulously informed sources of IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, helped Police by revealing that Alam had been mostly staying with his maternal relatives. He was picked up from the house of maternal uncle, Aftab Ahmed, in Telbal at 1900 hours on October 18th. Raids are currently underway to arrest some of Alam’s associates who had prominently mobilized stone pelting groups with attacks on official and civil vehicular traffic.

Alam revealed during questioning that he had neither used any mobile phones nor moved in uptown Srinagar for fear of his identification and arrest in the last four months. He had created a fake account on FaceBook and had several times uploaded incendiary videos and posts though a Photon data card issued by TataIndicom.

The long-bearded fugitive has revealed that he had invariably moved on a motorcycle with a crash helmet to cover his identity. According to his preliminary disclosures, for a few days he had moved to north-east of the Valley and stayed at Sumbal, Hajjan and Bandipore.

Most wanted Massarat Alam arrested in Srinagar

Kashmir ‘Intifada’ suffers major setback; Police searching for Pak hand

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 18: Muslim League leader and key functionary of the separatist Hurriyat Conference (Geelani faction), Massarat Alam Bhat, who indisputably played the most important role in the four-month-long mass agitation and street demonstrations in Kashmir valley, was finally arrested by Srinagar District Police from his hideout in Telbal area of this capital city today. With over a dozen criminal matters registered against him at different Police Stations, Massarat Alam has been subjected to sustained questioning as Police and intelligence agencies are said to be searching for the characters who, they believe, sent money and directions for the success of Intifada-2010 from Pakistan.

Informed sources told Early Times that a Srinagar District Police team, led by SP City (South), Mohammad Irshad, conducted a raid on the residential house of a businessman, Aftab Ahmed, in Telbal area of Dal Lake periphery at 1900 hours this evening and arrested the officiating General Secretary of Hurriyat (G), Massarat Alam Bhat, without facing any resistance. He was quickly whisked away to headquarters of Special Operations Group (SOG) Srinagar and subjected to sustained questioning. According to a tip-off provided to Police, Alam had been hiding at the house of his maternal uncle since last week.

Sources said that IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai and SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, planned the operation of Alam’s arrest after receiving specific information with regard to his presence in Telbal this evening. Even as the area falls under the jurisdiction of SP Hazratbal, the operation was assigned to SP South, Mohammad Irshad, who has a track record of high profile arrests during his two-year-long stint as head of SOG Srinagar.

SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari, confirmed Alam’s arrest and said that he was the most wanted for Kashmir Police on account of his key role in mobilization of anti-India, pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi demonstrations and mob attacks on Police, security forces and public properties since beginning of June 2010. He claimed that Alam’s arrest was a major success for Police and perhaps a decisive setback to the violent uprising in the Valley that has sent life out of gear since June.

A senior official said that Alam’s arrest had become the biggest challenge for Police and security forces as it was he who had been issuing shutdown calendars and managing to enforce strikes while using all possible tactics. He had been publicly justifying closure of educational institutions with the argument that nothing was paramount to “sacrifices of life” in Kashmir’s “freedom struggle”. He had gone underground after addressing a news conference in downtown Srinagar on June 24th. Officials said that his arrest had become all the more difficult as Alam had completely abandoned use of mobile phones and other electronic gadgets that help Police and intelligence agencies in tracing and arresting the most wanted individuals. He, according to officials, had also restricted physical and communication contact with his friends, relatives and members of his organization.

Alam had been functioning as Vice Chairman of Muslim League as well as the officiating General Secretary of Hurriyat (G) since last over three months. In two CDs, released from his separate hideouts, Alam had asked the Kashmiris to continue the agitation for complete demilitarization of the state while calling upon the security forces “not to perpetrate atrocities on innocent and occupied Kashmiris”. He had also played a key role in the success of a similar agitation in the Valley in 2008.

After his continued detention under PSA, that was repeatedly extended by District Magistrate of Srinagar for eight times in the last two years, Alam was released against an undertaking in May this year. Rather than staying away from the separatist activities, Alam emerged as the most important character in current “Quit J&K Movement” after Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s detention earlier this year.

Following the detention of prominent separatist activists, particularly Pir Saifullah, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Asiya Andrabi and Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, Alam’s arrest is expected to prove a major setback for the current mass uprising in Kashmir.

Wazeer-e-Azam Omar wants a Wazeeristaan in Kashmir

3 new universities: NC’s sinister plan to divide Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian lines

Early Times Report

JAMMU, Oct 17: In a bizarre antithesis to grandfather Sheikh Abdullah’s concept of Kashmiriyat---a plural society clean of all communal and sectarian conflicts---Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has floated a sinister plan of dividing the Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian lines even before winning greater autonomy for the Valley. The would-be Wazeer-e-Azam (Prime Minister) has sown the seeds of an extremely dangerous ideological conflict by way of pushing passage of three private members’ Bills in the state legislature last fortnight. One of the Bills seeks to establish a university to promote the Valley’s secular ethos, pluralism and non-violence but another Bill is aimed at creating a university for promotion of the Wahabi ideology that would straightaway lead to creation of a Wazeeristaan in Jammu & Kashmir.

Most of the legislators in National Conference (NC) insist that the state’s religious sensibilities are Greek to the greenhorn politician but quite a few of them believe that there was more than meets the eye in passing the three particular Bills in Legislative Assembly in a hush-hush manner in the concluding moments of the autumn session on October 9th. Some of the seniormost leaders in Sheikh Abdullah’s party have been taken aback on the way Chief Minister clandestinely instructed his MLAs to particularly support a private member’s Bill with the purpose of establishing a religious university whose funds would flow in from the self-righteous, puritanical Wahabi school of thought in Saudi Arabia.

This school of thought completely negates the form of tolerant Islam that has been in practice in Kashmir valley since 14th century when Rishi saint Sheikh-ul-Alam Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani and his mystic commune laid the foundation of Reshiwari. Wahabi school of thought does not tolerate spiritualism and faith in saints or shrines that have been the bedrock of Kashmir’s secular ethos, pluralism and religious tolerance for the last over 600 years now.

This is for the first time that someone in J&K Legislature has attempted to uproot the basis of Kashmiriyat by way of floating a Bill that has every potential of dividing the Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian lines and thus pave the wave for creation of a Wazeeristaan in the Valley in the next few years.

Interestingly, the Wahabi university Bill has not been piloted by any Syed Ali Shah Geelani but NC’s own Mir Saifullah and pushed forward by Minister incharge Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, who is known for his unflinching faith in the Valley’s Sufi saints and shrines. If the highly placed bureaucratic sources are to be believed, Chief Minister’s Political Advisor, Devender Singh Rana, played a key role in arranging meetings of the behind-the-scene promoters of the Wahabi university with his boss, particularly in the last two months.

“Some Central agencies have had the agenda of dividing the Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian lines. They seem to be keen to undercut Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen by promoting an ultra-extremist ideology. Why should National Conference (NC) be taken for this ride?”asked one of NC’s Members of Parliament. He observed that Sher-e-Kashmir’s Generation-3 successor had been ‘blindly’ dismantling his own party’s foundation from his day one in the hot seat. “J&K has already nine universities---three of them (Mata Veshnu Devi, Islamic University of Science & Technology and Baba Ghulam Shah Baadshah) with religious orientation. Even in the country, we have Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and Guru Nanak Dev University. We have a system for that. But creating universities on sectarian basis is not acceptable”, he asserted.

More interestingly, land for J&K’s first university to be created with sectarian orientation had been allotted by none other than Congress party’s senior leader and then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Srinagar outskirts in 2007. Omar Abdullah has pushed the process farther by getting the legislation in Assembly through a private member’s Bill.

Mushtaq taking over as Chairman J&K Bank today

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 5: Over a month after Haseeb Drabu’s dismissal by Omar Abdullah’s coalition government, nominee of the Board of Directors (BOD), Mushtaq Ahmed, is taking over as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd on Wednesday. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today communicated its approval to the appointment of Mushtaq Ahmed as Chairman of the J&K Bank following which Government of Jammu & Kashmir appointed him as a Director on Board, clearing decks for his appointment on the topmost position in the bank.

RBI sources revealed to Early Times that a number of “anonymous caveats” were overruled and nomination of Mushtaq Ahmed, as proposed and recommended by BOD of J&K Bank, was approved and finally communicated to J&K Bank today. According to these sources, “certain disgruntled elements” were at work to stall Mushatq’s appointment “for personal and political reasons”.

Sources in J&K Bank confirmed that RBI today granted approval to Mushatq’s appointment as Chairman and CEO of the bank. They said that the principal stake holder, Government of Jammu & Kashmir, nominated Mushtaq as a Director on Board, in terms of article of association. They disclosed that an extraordinary meeting of BOD would take place at Corporate Headquarters tomorrow at 1600 hours in which the government’s nominee director, Mushtaq Ahmed, would formally take over as Chairman and CEO. He would be taking over from Commissioner-Secretary Finance, Sudhanshu Pandey, who has been functioning as a government director in BOD for the last over one year and also as incharge Chairman and CEO of J&K Bank since the day Drabu was removed on August 27th.

In a significant development, Government of Jammu & Kashmir had directed Drabu to tender his resignation as Chairman and CEO of J&K Bank on August 26th. After Drabu’s resignation on August 27th, BOD had submitted a list of three nominees, with necessary approval of J&K Government, to RBI for appointment of the new Chairman. While the former Executive Director, Mushtaq Ahmed, figured at the top, two senior KAS officers, Tanvir Jehan and G A Pir, were recommended as runners up. Pandey was asked to function as incharge Chairman, with constitution of two top level committees, until a full-fledged Chairman was appointed after necessary approval from RBI.

Drabu’s dismissal came as a surprise to many political and bureaucratic circles as they had been extolling him as the “Prime Minister’s nominee” on account of his proximity to one-time influential union Minister Jairam Ramesh. He had been appointed as Chairman of J&K Bank by PDP’s founder-president and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with the replacement of Mohammad Yousuf Khan. According to informed sources, Drabu is now attempting to get a job with a media organization, though he has not publicly surfaced anywhere in the state or the country in the last over one month.

Drabu’s would-be successor, Mushaq Ahmed had reached superannuation in February 2008 after serving J&K Bank in different capacities for about 35 years. Hailing from the border area of Uri, Mushtaq had joined J&K Bank as a Probationary Officer in December 1972. After functioning as head of a number of branches as Chief Manager and Deputy General Manager, he headed the bank’s Investment and Treasury Operations as General Manager and continued to be its head even after he was elevated to the senior position of Executive Director. He earned considerable appreciation as an expert in loan and credit portfolio as also head of the Foreign Exchange department of which he was a founder.

He remained in oblivion after his retirement as Executive Director in February 2008.