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Thursday, November 21, 2013

J&K official fired for bungling MBBS entrance exams


Mushtaq Peer was not arrested allegedly thanks to pressure from a senior Congress leader


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz



SRINAGAR: Government of Jammu and Kashmir has terminated the post-retirement service of the former Chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examinations [BOPEE] Mushtaq Ahmed Peer on account of his prima facie involvement in the multi-crore question paper leakage scam and acquisition of properties worth over Rs 10 crore in the last three years.


General Administration Department’s order No: 1551, issued on November 14 and confirmed by the Cabinet on November 19, did not mention the reason of Mr Peer’s abrupt dismissal. “The contractual appointment of Prof. Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, as Consultant, ordered vide Government Order No.1326-GAD of 2012 Dated 13.12.2012 read with Government Order No. 833-GAD of 2013 dated 31.5.2013, is hereby terminated with immediate effect”, said the order.


Following his retirement as Chairman of BOPEE, Mr Peer had been engaged for a term of two years for providing consultancy to the government on the proposed fast track recruitment of class-4 employees.


Well-placed sources in the Omar Abdullah government revealed to The Hindu that the top corridors of power decided to terminate the consultant’s service weeks after the High Court entertained a Public Interest Litigation and directed the Crime Branch to hold a transparent inquiry into the allegations of manipulating the MBBS selections against him. As Mr Peer’s involvement was established and FIR registered, the State government dismissed the consult “to stave off a huge embarrassment”.


The sources revealed that the Crime Branch decided to arrest and interrogate Mr Peer but a political intervention foiled the move. “A senior Congress leader, who has been instrumental in Mr Peer’s out-of-turn and backdoor promotion, exerted a lot of pressure and warned the officials against his arrest. It was then decided that he would be simply summoned and questioned”, said an official.


Inspector General of Crime Javaid Gillani, however, refused to endorse. “He actually turned up voluntarily to face the questions. We have asked him to return for further interrogation on Thursday”, Mr Gillani asserted. He confirmed that the Crime Branch conducted raids on Mr Peer’s acquisitions and land holdings and seized “a lot of incriminating material”.


Huge acquisitions


The IGP said that Mr Peer had “sold off question papers to some brokers for Rs 65 Lakh who in turn earned Rs 5 crore by collecting money from their clients” in just the 2012 session. “These candidates secretly wrote their exams with masse copying at a private hotel on the Boulevard. We have found 12 of them among the top 30 candidates in the order of merit. Money has been paid by cheques”, Mr Gillani said.


The accused has been found to have purchased over 10 kanals of land in Ganderbal, a built-up house in the posh Tawi Vihar area of Sidhra in Jammu, some properties at Pahalgam, besides three flats in Jammu and New Delhi all in the last three years.    


Shower of favours


While as Estates Department has allotted an independent house to Mr Peer in Jammu, Department of Evacuees’ Properties has transferred ownership of another house to his name. He and his wife have been granted several service extensions after their retirement. Sources said that a senior Congress leader had put the government under tremendous pressure to appoint Mr Peer as Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipore, at the retirement of Dr Abdul Rashid Trag in February 2014.

Mr Peer and his family were not accessible on telephone on Wednesday.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

BJP, PDP hand-in-glove to grab power in J&K, alleges Omar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR: The ruling National Conference’s (NC) acting president and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday alleged that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was “in nexus with Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to grab the power through illegitimate means in Jammu & Kashmir.”

While addressing a public meeting in the opposition PDP’s stronghold at Kellar, in Shopian district of South Kashmir, Mr. Abdullah asserted that there was a discernible chemistry between the PDP and the BJP. He said the two political outfits of “communal orientation” had an eye on the power in J&K and both had stakes in a communal divide ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. He cautioned the NC cadres against the communal forces’ attempts to subvert peace and tranquility.

“There’s definitely a hidden contact between the PDP and the BJP. Mufti Sayeed’s secret meetings with the close associates of Lal Krishna Advani and his close contact with Narendra Modi has surfaced and exposed the PDP’s ideology and strategy,” Mr. Abdullah asserted. “They are running with the deer and hunting with the hound. But take it from me today their boat is destined to sink under the weight of this party’s own duplicity and hypocrisy.”

Mr. Abdullah referred to the two elections in the State’s Legislative Council in the last nearly five years of his regime and claimed that the members of the BJP, Kashmir-based PDP and Jammu-based National Panthers Party had voted for common candidates.

For the second time in a week, Mr. Abdullah pledged that the NC’s friendship and association with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition at the Centre was firm and irreversible.

He referred to one of Mr. Sayeed’s purported statements in the recent past and said the NC would never ask the electorate to return 40 seats in the State Legislative Assembly “for resolving the Kashmir problem.” “I have been saying it since day one of the campaigning in 2008 that the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections have got to do nothing with resolution of the Kashmir problem. This is essentially a political problem that needs a political resolution to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders,” Mr. Abdullah said.

He asserted that the 24-year-long militancy in the State was “purely political” and claimed that the Kashmiri youth had not picked up the gun for elections, development, employment or governance. He implored the separatist leadership to “shun rigidity” and respond favourably to the Centre’s offer of an unconditional dialogue and peace process.

“There are no other options left. Violence definitely is not the way-out,” Mr. Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, addressing a rally at Mendhar in Jammu on Sunday, Mr. Abdullah’s confidante and the NC’s Jammu chief Devender Singh Rana said: “Mufti Sayeed is using a former Director of IB, who advises the BJP on security matters, a women social activist running an NGO and close to Mehbooba Mufti, and a Delhi-based senior journalist who happens to be Mufti’s close friend, as conduits between the PDP and the BJP. Snubbed by the Congress, the PDP is now building bridges with the BJP.”


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear friends

Having been heavily preoccupied with my professional assignments, I regret I had no time to update this blog since April 2013.

Now that nearly 1.10 lakh views have been recorded despite this blog being inactive, I am planning to update it with all of my stories since the day I joined The Hindu on November 14, 2012.

Best wishes

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Senior Assistant Editor
The Hindu