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Friday, December 30, 2016

Massarat Alam released, re-arrested in another case

PDP-BJP coalition under fire for booking Alam on faulty grounds, “lackadaisical pursuance” of his case in High Court

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Dec 29: Icon of the over four-month-long street turbulence of the year 2010 in Kashmir valley and a senior leader of the separatist group Muslim League, Massarat Alam Bhat, whose release in 2015 by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government had triggered off a major controversy at national level in the country, was released from a jail in Kathua on Thursday but re-arrested quickly in a different case registered against him in the Valley.

Official sources said that Bhat was released from a jail in Kathua two days after Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar of the Jammu and High Court quashed his detention under the preventive law Public Safety Act (PSA) and ordered his release.

Sources said that Bhat was subsequently taken into custody and whisked away to a temporary detention centre of counterinsurgency wing of J&K Police (CIJ)in Miran sahib area of Ranbir Singhpura, Jammu. He was likely to be handed over to Kashmir Police who have reportedly sought his detention in a criminal matter.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani told STATE TIMES that Bhat was arrested in a different case. “We have arrested him in a different case. There are several cases registered against him in which he is wanted in Kashmir”, IGP Kashmir asserted.

After over five years of continued detention, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-BJP Government had released Bhat within days of assuming office in March 2015. He was, however, re-arrested and detained under PSA when his release triggered off a political controversy and immediately thereafter he organised a massive pro-Pakistan and anti-India demonstration in reception of the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani outside the office of the Director General of Police on Srinagar Airport Road. "Haafiz Sayeed ka kya paigaam: Kashmir banega Pakistan" was Alam's lead slogan in the rally that waved a profusion of the Pakistani flags and set the tone for a new upheaval in the Valley.

As the courts quashed all of his PSA detentions and some orders expired, in the currently year Bhat was again detained under PSA on the charge that some separatist activists had deceitfully met him inside a jail in Baramulla in the month of August and received from him directions to strengthen the then blooming Burhan Wani turbulence across the Valley. His counsels challenged the detention in J&K High Court.

In the High Court junior Government advocates pursued and defended Bhat’s detention. On the other hand, senior advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom argued strongly against the detention and the State government lost its case on Tuesday when Justice Attar announced the judgment that had been reserved in the previous week. He ordered Bhat’s release “forthwith”.

Agreeing with the defence counsel, Justice Attar observed that the grounds of detention mentioned by the detaining authority (District Magistrate of Baramulla) were invalid and not sufficient to warrant preventive detention of any citizen. He observed that if four visitors had met Massarat Alam inside his Barrack No:8 in Sub Jail Baramulla instead of the detainee of Barack No: 7, Assadullah Parray of Hajan, who they had mentioned in the entry, Bhat could not be held responsible for meeting them.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these Police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the Police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these Police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet only Shri Assadullah Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not the detenue (Bhat). The record does not show whether those persons have been arraigned as accused in FIR No: 258/2016 dated 3oth August, 2016. No material is placed on record to suggest that all those persons, after allegedly meeting the detenue, did actually indulge in such activities, which would either adversely impact security of the State or the public order. The record further does not show that what actually transpired between the detenue and those four persons in the alleged meeting they had with each other in the jail premises”, Justice Attar observed.

“The democratic societies not only swear but live by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus they prove better than many human beings”, Justice Attar noted in his order, illustrating difference between a criminal detention and a preventive custody. He asserted that liberty of every citizen had been guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.


[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

Thursday, December 29, 2016

First time in J&K’s history: CS, DGP from Jammu

Ahmed Ali Fayyyaz


JAMMU, Dec 28: For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir since 1947, the State will be having both, Chief Secretary as well as Director General of Police, from Jammu province. And the distinction has by coincidence come at a time when BJP is ruling at the Centre and also partner in the coalition with the Kashmir-centric Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

With the appointment of Dr Shesh Pal Vaid (IPS-1986) as DGP in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, J&K on January 1, 2017, will be having its heads of bureaucracy and Police both from Jammu. On September 1, 2015, Mr B.R. Sharma (IAS-1986) had taken over as Chief Secretary during Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-BJP rule.

In the last 70 years, sons of soil in J&K have been simultaneously heads of the State bureaucracy and Police for 7 times — often for brief periods. While as the CS and DGP have been simultaneously four times from Kashmir, both have been never from Jammu.

For three days, from January 1 to January 3, Jammu will also retain the honour of having Chief Justice of India (Tirath Singh Thakur) from the province. In the post-47 history, Jammu has had one CJI (Dr Adarsh Sen Anand) and one Army chief (Gen N.C. Vij) from the Dogra heartland.

In 1954-1956, Chief Secretary Pir Ghulam Ahmad was from Kashmir and IGP (then designation of the State Police chief) Lt Col Baldev Singh Samial was from Jammu. In 1963-1964, Pir Ghulam Ahmad served as Chief Secretary briefly with IGP L.D. Thakur of Jammu.

In 1978-1979, Syed Muzaffar Aga of Kashmir served as CS and D.N. Kaul of Kashmir as IGP. In 1979-1980, Syed Muzaffar Aga was CS and Peer Ghulam Hassan Shah of Kashmir IGP. In 1980-1982, Noor Mohammad of Kashmir served as CS and Peer Ghulam Hassan Shah as IGP/DGP. In 1984-1985, Mir Nasrullah of Kashmir functioned as CS and Peer Ghulam Hassan Shah as DGP. Finally in 2007-2008, it was for a brief period that both CS (B.R. Kundal of Jammu) and DGP (Kuldeep Khuda of Kashmir) were permanent residents of the State.

Of the 12 State subject Chief Secretaries, 8 have been from Kashmir, three from Jammu and one from Ladakh. While as Pir Ghulam Ahmad served as CS from 14-06-1954 to 7-03-1964, the Chief Secretary’s seat was retained by P.N. Kaul from 27-03-1977 to 01-01-1978, S.M. Aga from 20-01-1978 to 30-04-1980, Noor Mohammad from 01-05-1980 to 31-12-1983, Mir Nasrullah from 01-01-1984 to 31-01-1986, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool from 21-09-1992 to 15-04-1994, S.S. Bloeria from 30-09-2002 to 31-07-2005, Vijay Bakaya from 01-08-2005 to 31-05-2006, C. Phonsog from 03-05-2006 to 31-10-2007, B.R. Kundal from 01-11-2007 to 02-06-2008 and Iqbal Khanday from 18-02-2013 to 31-08-2015. B.R. Sharma is functioning as CS since 01-09-2015.

Of the 8 State subject IGPs/DGPs in the 143-year-long history of J&K Police, 4 each have been from Kashmir and Jammu. Vaid is the 9th State subject and 5th from Jammu province to head the over 100,000-strong Police organisation. With total strength of 1,000 village watchmen, J&K Police had been informally raised by Maharaja in 1873. It had one head (Kotwal) and 14 Thanedars (SHOs), all in Srinagar. In 1913, an IP officer, Mr Broadway, borrowed from the British India government, was appointed its first IGP. In 1947, J&K Police was a 3,300-strong organisation. From 1913 to 1947, only one State subject, Col. Gandarabh Singh (1927-1931) functioned as IGP.

In the post-accession history, Lt Col Baldev Singh Samial of Jammu acted as IG of J&K Police from 01-11-1954 to 30-10-1956, L.D. Thakur of Jammu from 30-09-1963 to 27-07-1966, D.N. Kaul of Kashmir from 02-09-1977 to 03-09-1979 and Peer Ghulam Hassan Shah of Kashmir from 01-10-1979 to 24-05-1982. Mr Shah was designated as the first DGP on 25-05-1982 and he functioned as head of the state Police till 16-01-1985 when he had completed six months of his two-year extension but quit in protest as Ghulam Mohammad Shah’s government marginalised him to the ex-cadre position of Transport Commissioner. Thereafter Manmohan Khanjuria of Jammu served as DGP from 16-01-1985 to 20-05-1986.

Upon Khajuria’s retirement from service, Governor Jagmohan brought in Francis Thomas Raphael Colaso as DGP of J&K though he was only 49 year old and had not completed even 25 years of service in IPS. When he went back to the Centre on 21-05-1987, he was posted as IG in BSF. Just 6 months short of his retirement, he was appointed as DGP in his home State of Karnataka in 1995.

Ghulam Jeelani Pandit of Kashmir took over as DGP on 21-05-1987 and held that position till 20-12-1989. For 18 years, nobody from J&K headed J&K Police. Finally, Kuldeep Khuda of Kashmir served as DGP from 18-07-2007 to 31-05-2012.


[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

With Vaid, Mishra and Sahai in the race, Cabinet may pick up new DGP on Wednesday

Promoted IGPs likely to get posting, Uttam Chand may be cleared for Central deputation

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Dec 26: Before the outgoing Police chief K Rajendra Kumar’s three-month extension would end on December 31, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in coordination with the BJP-led Centre is likely to pick up new Director General for the Jammu and Kashmir Police in a Cabinet meeting on December 28.

Well-placed sources in the coalition government insist that an interaction was already in progress between Ms Mufti and the Government of India, which could also take on board State and Central leadership of the BJP, for the appointment of the new DGP. If the sources are to be believed, names of three senior IPS officers of J&K cadre are currently under consideration and the consensus on the final choice could be churned out on Tuesday.

Sources said that senior BJP leaders Amit Shah and Ram Madhav were in favour of entertaining recommendations and objections from the State BJP leaders, even as the Central bureaucracy would like the exercise to remain “purely professional” with focus on seniority, suitability and individual merits and demerits of the three shortlisted candidates.

According to sources, DGP Coordination and Law & Order, Dr Shesh Pal Vaid (IPS-1986), DG Prisons S.K. Mishra (IPS-1985) and Shiv Murari Sahai (IPS-1987) were the three frontrunners. Of the three, Vaid has the advantage of being a son of the soil while as Mishra has the advantage of being the senior most IPS officer on the ladder after Rajendra and Sahai is rated exceptionally competent and experienced in handling the secessionist strife and cross-border terrorism.

Appointed in the prestigious National Security Council Secretariat in the Union Government earlier this year, Sahai is reportedly enjoying support from the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Deputy NSA and former Director of Intelligence Bureau Syed Asif Ibrahim, who is currently PM's special envoy to West Asia and Pakistan-Afghanistan region. Sahai has successfully served twice as IGP Kashmir, ADG Armed and ADG CID after holding key positions as SP and SSP in the executive Police in Kashmir. However, during the Burhan Wani turbulence, he had fallen out of the ring of favour and confidence of some influential Ministers and bureaucrats for his alleged proximity to a particular Cabinet Minister of Ms Mufti’s party.

Sahai’s real disadvantage, however, would be his being junior to five IPS officers, namely S.K. Mishra, S.P Vaid, D.R. Doley (1986), Navin Agarwal (1986) and V.K. Singh (1987). Of them, Doley and Agarwal are currently on Central deputation and V.K. Singh is ADG Headquarters.

Mishra has successfully served as SSP Srinagar in 1997-98 and lately completely an impressive term with BSF during which he played a key role in resolving India’s border dispute with Bangladesh. However, his disadvantage is his prolonged Central deputation during which his liaison with the officers and politicians in J&K, besides his practical knowledge of the people and their changing political sensibilities, remained minimal. He is rated as an unassuming, no-nonsense officer and a man of high integrity who has never landed in any controversy.

Apart from being the only son of the soil and a favourite of many of the influential Ministers in the two ruling parties, Vaid has the distinction of having served as SP, SSP, DIG and IGP in the most challenging circumstances. He has fought militancy from the front and once survived a deadly militant ambush when, as DIG North Kashmir, he was returning at midnight to Baramulla from Srinagar. He was injured in that attack near Hygam. Significantly, within a brief period, he was recalled from his posting of DG Prison and appointed back as DGP Coordination and Law & Order at Police Headquarters recently---a clear indication of his elevation to the top rung on the ladder after end of Rajendra’s extension.

Of the seven top officers, Mishra is due for retirement on Feb 28, 2019, while as Vaid would reach superannuation on October 10, 2019, Doley on May 31, 2019, Agarwal on July 31, 2021, V.K. Singh on September 30, 2021, and Sahai on March 31, 2023. VK Singh and Sahai would be completing the qualifying service for appointment as DGP in 2017.

Sources said that after necessary off-the-screen interactions between PDP and BJP, Cabinet was likely to pick up Mr Rajendra’s successor on Wednesday.  

Sources said that at least five DIGs, who had been promoted as IGP several months back, were likely to be given new postings in the December 28 meeting which could also clear Central deputation of Uttam Chand, DIG North Kashmir, for his subsequent posting in RAW.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Monday, December 26, 2016

Good for PDP, bad for BJP: Centre orders withdrawal of 40 CRPF companies from J&K

Officials quote ‘improvement in situation, deployment for Punjab, UP elections’ as the reason

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Dec 25: With the situation improving in Kashmir valley and the Assembly elections in Punjab and UP drawing nearer, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has ordered withdrawal of 40 CRPF companies from Jammu and Kashmir.

According to a communication received in the offices of the top Police and paramilitary officers in J&K on December 23, Government of India has ordered withdrawal of 40 companies of CRPF with effect from January 2, 2017. It has not specified the reason or purpose but emphasised that the paramilitary personnel of Punjab, UP, South India and North East based battalions should be withdrawn from J&K in the first phase of relocation.

Officials unwilling to being identified revealed to STATE TIMES that an exercise had immediately begun to identify and withdraw the CRPF personnel who had been specially deployed in J&K for strengthening the law and order bandobust in the wake of the summer turbulence, triggered by the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8. Thousands of the paramilitary personnel have already been withdrawn or immobilised after getting injured in the street turbulence for around five months in the Valley.

Even as the officials claimed that withdrawal of the 40 companies of CRPF from J&K was sequel to “improvement of law and order situation in the Valley besides security arrangements for some States, particularly Punjab and UP, politicians affiliated to the ruling outfit Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insisted that the exercise had been launched on sustained insistence from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“This will come as a short in the arm in PDP as we can claim credit that the forces involved in killing of 90 persons and causing fractures and injuries to over 10,000 Kashmiris were being recalled from the Valley. This is part of the demilitarisation we have been demanding. This is good news for us as Mehboobaji has struggled a lot for it”, said a PDP leader. “A number of the camps have been closed down. CRPF has been relocated from different government and public building including a major educational institute lately in Habbakadal-Fatehkadal area in Srinagar. Amar Singh Club and Indoor Stadium are also being cleared of the CRPF in near future”.

Withdrawal of the 40 CRPF companies from J&K could come as a breather for PDP that has encountered unenviable conditions after allying with BJP for formation of the coalition and the Government in 2015.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Blue-eyed ACF cherry-picked by Minister for two posts of CF in Forest Department

Lal Singh throws resentment of IFS officers to dustbin, makes appointments of non-cadre officers in brazen violation of IFS cadre Rules

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Dec 24: Throwing all rules and resentment of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) cadre officers to dustbin, Minister of Forest Choudhary Lal Singh has now cherry-picked an Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) simultaneously for two cadre posts of Conservator of Forest (CF).

Two days after the Jammu and Kashmir branch of the Indian Forest Service Association submitted a representation, seeking posting of officers on the cadre positions strictly as per the IFS (Cadre) Rules 1966, Commissioner-Secretary Forest Mohammad Afzal Bhat has issued Government Order No: 308-FST of 2016 Dated 23-12-2016. The order issued with the approval of Forest Minister says that Mohammad Maqbool Rather “incharge DCF”, Joint Director Forest Protection Force Kashmir, shall hold the charge of Conservator of Forest, North Circle, Kashmir, in addition to his own duties.

The IFS Association’s representation signed by its Secretary Dr Rajeev Kumar Tiwari and delivered in the office of Commissioner-Secretary Forest on December 20, had complained that posting of non-cadre officers against the cadre posts of DCF (Divisional Forest Officers) and CF had generated intense resentment and demoralisation among the IFS cadre officers in Jammu and Kashmir. It had been pointed out in detail that most of the young IFS officers were being attached to insignificant office and field positions in blatant violation of the IFS (cadre) Rules and many of such posts were manned by junior and non-cadre officers.

According to the latest Seniority List, issued vide Government Order No: 273-FST of 2015 Dated 09-10-2015, Mohammad Maqbool Rather, with Arts graduation and DDR, is simply an ACF who has joined as Forester as a Matriculate in 1977. While compiling the Seniority List, the competent committee set up by the Government had noted in the Remarks column: “There is no relevance for writing i/c DCF in the Seniority List as it has no bearing”. Without regard to the committee’s remarks, Commissioner-Secretary Forest has mentioned Mr Rather as “incharge DCF” and kept him posted as Joint Director Forest Protection Force, Kashmir, (equivalent to CF), besides Conservator of Forest North Circle, Kashmir.

“It is exactly like posting a Dy SP as DIG of Central Kashmir and giving him the additional charge of DIG of North Kashmir”, simplified a senior IFS officer. He revealed to STATE TIMES that the IFS Association would soon submit a comprehensive memorandum for redressal of grievances to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. “Even a blind man will read out of this that such transfers and postings in Forest Department are the result of pecuniary considerations”, he asserted and claimed that a Srinagar-based DFO, who stands booked in several FIRs, played the role of middle-man in this and some other prize postings.

The IFS cadre post of CF North, Kashmir, was lying vacant since December 1 when, upon the retirement of CF Srinagar, Zahoor Ahmad Jan, CF North Javed Andrabi was shifted from Baramulla to Srinagar. For three weeks, Mr Andrabi also held the additional charge of CF North. On Saturday, he has been relieved by Mr Rather.

Resentment is palpable among not only the regular recruits of IFS, who stand confirmed as DCF, but also among the State Forest Service officers inducted into IFS. While picking up Mr Rather, Forest Minister has completely ignored CF rank officers like Ali Mohammad Dar, Agrostologist J&K, and Mohammad Shafi Kenu (DCF selection grade) who is currently Regional Director in Department of Environment and Remote Sensing.

Lal Singh’s favourite Mohammad Maqbool Rather is still ACF and far junior to both Ali Mohammad Dar and Mohammad Shafi Kenu and even the Kashmiri IFS regular recruits Irfan Ali Shah and Tauheed Deva who are holding insignificant postings of DFO Photo Interpretation Division and Project Coordinator WUQMA. Both are confirmed as DCF and superior in rank to Mr Rather.

Most of the non-Kashmiri IFS officers have been posted on insignificant positions. They include IFS-2009 officer, B Mohandas (DFO PI Division), IFS-2010 officers Jitendra Kumar Singh and Sat Pal (both posted in office of PCCF), IFS-2013 officers Jyotsana Sarkar (attached to office of DFO Jammu), Shveta Jandial (attached to office of CF East Jammu) and Neelima Shah (attached to office of Regional Director Social Forestry Jammu) and IFS-2014 officer Mohan Choudhary (attached to office of CF Chenab Circle Doda).

It has been repeatedly pointed out to Minister and Commissioner-Secretary Forest that these IFS cadre officers have not been posted against IFS cadre post (DFO and equivalent) which have been given to non-cadre officers against pecuniary considerations, favouritism and political clout.

The appointments of DFOs and CFs, ordered by Forest Minister Lal Singh, are clearly in violation of Section 8 (1) and Section 9 (1) (a) of IFS cadre Rules 1966 which make it incumbent upon the State Government to appoint only the IFS officers on the IFS cadre posts. Rule 9 (1) mentions that a non-cadre officer, if posted as a result of the non-availability of the cadre officer, shall be replaced by the cadre officer when he becomes available. It makes clear that a non-cadre officer cannot continue on a cadre post for more than three months without the “prior approval” of the Central Government.

While as the Forest Minister did not respond to phone calls from STATE TIMES, Commissioner-Secretary Forest Mohammad Afzal Bhat claimed that Mohammad Maqbool Rather had been appointed as CF North (in addition to his current posting as JD FPF) for being “senior most among the State Forest Service officers”

When it was pointed out to Mr Bhat that as per the Seniority List Maqbool Rather was only an ACF, he said: “He has been recommended for promotion (as DCF) but a court has stayed the process”. He said that Rather, along with a Jammu-based SFS officer, was already holding the post of JD FPF, equivalent to CF. He said that the IFS officers were "unnecessarily raising hue and cry" on transfers and postings ordered in the interest of the administration.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]