GAD keeps Raj Bhawan in the dark
over FIRs against DDK
Director Rafeeq Masoodi
CBI-tainted DD official getting State Award from Governor
13 mediapersons, 12 litterateurs, 12 artists, 10 sportspersons, 9 public servants among 71 award recipients
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 13: In a unique incident of lowering the prestige of the offices of Governor as well as Chief Minister, General Administration Department (GAD) has included Director of Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, among 65 outstanding personalities who will be receiving the most prestigious State Award of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir at the hands of Governor, N N Vohra, at an investiture ceremony here on Saturday. On serious allegations of corruption in DDK Srinagar, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered two FIRs against Dr Masoodi and the investigation is underway but GAD officials have kept both, Governor as well as Chief Minister, in the dark about the doubtful integrity of the official who has sneaked into the eminent personalities with the blessings of a former Chief Minister.
Commissioner-Secretary GAD has invited 65 eminent personalities and half-a-dozen NGOs for receiving State Award at an impressive investiture ceremony at SKICC tomorrow. As demanded by protocol, these prestigious State Awards would be given away by Governor. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would be the Chief Guest and Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, as the Guest of Honour. Most of the state Ministers, legislators, senior bureaucrats, mediapersons and representatives of the civil society are expected to attend the ceremony being held after four years. Over five dozen State Award recipients--- for years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011---include 13 mediapersons, 12 litterateurs, 12 artists and performing artists, 10 sportspersons and 9 public servants.
Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that GAD officials have included Dr Masoodi among the recipients notwithstanding the fact that CBI has been conducting an investigation against him for his alleged involvement in corruption after registering two FIRs in
. State Awards are being announced every year on the eve of Republic Day in favour of eminent personalities, entrepreneurs and non-profit bodies for their excellence in 11 different categories. Dr Masoodi’s name figures under the unscheduled category of “Special Award” among recipients of year 2008. Srinagar
Sources revealed that Dr Masoodi’s name was included among the recipients at the behest of then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, shortly before his coalition government ended dramatically in July 2008. Masoodi had been removed as Director of Radio Kashmir Srinagar over charges of his “links to anti-national elements” and posted at Prasar Bharti headquarters. Immediately after Azad took over as Chief Minister of J&K in November 2005, he reportedly managed to get Masoodi back to
Srinagar in breach of advisories of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and appointed him as Secretary of the of Art, Culture and Languages. He was subsequently rehabilitated as Director of DDK Srinagar. State-controlled J&K Academy
However, Azad’s family sources strongly disputed reports of Masoodi’s links to the Union Minister of Health and maintained that the official had been managing things “of his own”. They pointed out that Masoodi was right hand man of the unceremoniously removed CEO of Prasar Bharti, B S Lalli, as well as former Director General of Doordarshan, Aruna Sharma. They further pointed out that Masoodi siphoned off over Rs 4 Crore of Doordarshan funds to the family members of a dismissed official of J&K State Forest Corporation (SFC) who had played a key role in 2007-08 in running a virulent character assassination campaign against Azad and his brothers (forest contractors).
While conducting two raids on DDK Srinagar on 18-05-2009 and 10-06-2009, CBI had registered case FIR No: 02/A/2009/CBI/Sgr against Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, two more DD officials associated with the acquisition, namely Ghulam Hassan Dar and Bashir Ahmed Mir, besides six private producers, namely Syed Gulzar Rizvi, Javed Ahmed Shah, G M Magami, Altaf Marazi, Ashfaq Marazi and Irfan Marazi.
During the course of investigation, CBI sleuths seized 1914 tapes, containing as many as 9,591 programme segments, purportedly acquired from the group of six private producers for the 5-days-a-week breakfast show “Subhai Subhai”. Surprisingly, in the DDK Srinagar records, there was no entry of the tapes deposited in the Producer Ghulam Hassan Dar's office. Dar instantly revealed to CBI that he had received and dumped the tapes on specific verbal and written orders of Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Masoodi.
During the course of the investigation, Dr Masoodi's involvement was established with foolproof evidence and corroboration from scores of witnesses, including Dar and almost all the private producers interrogated. Procured at the rate of Rs 5,000 per segment from a particular group of the private producers, in total violation of the codal procedure and without any public notification, the consignment involved payment claim of Rs 4.80 Crore as against the annual budget of Rs 1.50 Crore for the programme. Process of the payment was clandestinely underway when CBI acted on written complaints and launched the investigation. As many as 43 fake banners (production firms) were found to have been created and operated by the accused DD officials and the group of private producers.
On March 8, 2010, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, C M Jatua informed the Rajya Sabha that the CBI was probing into the allegation of malpractices by Director of Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, in bulk purchase of tapes. In a written reply, he said that a complaint had been received against Dr Masoodi alleging that he purchased tapes in bulk containing 9591 segments of programme "Subhai Subhai" from private produces to "obtain maximum amount of illegal gratification." Jatua stated that the investigation report was "awaited" from the CBI.
After nearly one year, CBI registered case FIR No: 4 of 2010 against the DD officials headed by Masoodi. It conducted raids on the offices and residences of several officials, including head of the Music Section Kausar Parveen, and seized dozens of cheque books and ATM cards of the fraudulently operated bank accounts. It surfaced within weeks that huge amounts of money had been withdrawn by fraudulent means on account of payment of musical programmes never produced in conformity with codes and procedures.
With the investigation in both FIRs being in progress, GAD has invited Masoodi for receiving the State Award from Governor on May 14th at SKICC.
Early Times made attempts to learn from GAD and Raj Bhawan whether the CBI’s accused Dr Masoodi was also receiving the State Award from Governor and why Raj Bhawan and Chief Minister’s office had been kept in the dark over the CBI cases against the accused official. Principal Secretary to Governor, Raj Kumar Goel, was not reachable. Raj Bhawan sources said that he was accompanying His Excellency on a visit to the holy
. Commissioner-Secretary GAD, Mohammad Sayeed Khan, was reachable but he did not respond to the call. Later, Early Times sent the question by SMS at 5.04 p.m. which was delivered on mobile phones of both, Goel as well as Khan, but neither of them responded till late tonight. Amarnath Cave
Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, Commissioner-Secretary PDD, Basharat Ahmed Dhar, Commissioner Excise and Commercial Taxes, Ghulam Ahmed Pir, Commissioner-Secretary Finance, Sudhanshu Pandey and retired KAS officer, Ahmedullah Shah, are among 9 public servants who will be receiving the State Award tomorrow.
Thirteen recipients from media include Nazir Masoodi of NDTV, Masood Hussain of Economic Times, photojournalist of Daily Excelsior Ashok Sodhi, who died in an encounter between militants and security forces (year 2009), Editors of daily Srinagar Times and daily Aftab, Khwaja Sonullah Bhat and Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, who passed away both in 2009, Arun Joshi of Hindustan Times, Nidhi Razdan of NDTV, Mahrukh Anayat of Times Now TV, Iftikhar Gilani of Kashmir Times, Maqsood Ahmed of Radio Kashmir Srinagar (year 2010), Mohammad Saleem Pandit of Times of India and PTI’s former Jammu bureau chief, M K Bangroo (2011).
Prominent singers and music composers in the group include the legendary Raj Begum, Shameem Dev Azad, Kailash Mehra, Ghulam Mohammad Saznawaz, Krishna Kumari and Abhay Rustum Sopori. Eminent broadcaster and former head of Radio Kashmir’s Drama Section, Pran Kishore, Prof Rehman Rahi, Shiv Nath, Tashi Ragbyas, Abdul Rasheed Nazki, Prof Sewa Singh, Prof Veena Gupta, Prof Lalit Magotra, Mashaal Sultanpuri and famous poet Rasul Pompur, who died last week, are also among the recipients of the State Award.