Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finance Commission

Constitution of State Finance Commission in offing 
Naseer A Ganai 
Srinagar, Nov 28: The Government is going to appoint chairperson and members of the State Finance Commission before the Budget session of the Assembly, senior officials said.  
The officials said that the Government has formed rules for the Commission and its secretary would be appointed within two weeks. However, they said, the Chairman and members of the Commission will be appointed by the chief minister himself. “It is discretion of the Chief Minister to appoint the chairman himself or he could take the decision by discussing it in the cabinet,” said a senior official of Finance Department. 
The State Finance Commission Bill, 2006 was introduced in summer session of the Assembly “to ensure equitable development of all regions in the State by equitable distribution of resources available for the development.” The Bill also said that the commission would make good of backlog of development and employment at the regional and district levels in Jammu and Kashmir. Some four months ago, when Government introduced the bill in the Assembly, it had promised that within six months it will constitute the State Finance Commission. 
The former finance Minister Muzaffer Hussain Baig told Greater Kashmir that the State Finance Commission bill was brought to expose many myths. “One of the biggest myth is that Jammu region is neglected in development,” he said. However, he said, he has no knowledge whether Government has done anything in this regard or not. 
The Commission apart from ensuring equitable development, has to identify the backward districts of the State and assess the deviation of these districts from the mean development level of the State and it has to evolve a set policy instructions to equalize the dispersal of development across the districts. The commission has to also identify the employment backlog at the regional, sub-regional, district or the targeted economic unit level and recommend measures for removal of disparities. Presently Kupwara is most backward district of the State and it is followed by Doda district.
The Commission has to submit its report to the Government within the time prescribed. 
The chairperson of the Commission should be an eminent economist with expertise in State Finance and Planning at regional level.
The Commission should have members (not exceeding five), having excelled in administration, regional planning, policy planning, entreprenueurship, investment, credits and legal or academic fields. 
The Government, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Finance Commission Act, will appoint the chairperson and members by notification. The Government has to appoint secretary to commission who will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. The officials said that the secretary will be appointed within two weeks and rest of the appointments will be decided by the Chief Minister himself or they way he decides.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lest we forget

14 yrs on, poor Gujjar woman fights for her missing son
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, Nov 22: It has been a long legal battle in search of her disappeared son, but 14 years down the line, Zaitoon Begum, 50, refuses to give up.
Her ordeal began on January 26, 1992, when the Dogra Regiment of Army took her son Nazir Ahmad Khan, 23 into custody along with his two neighbors Abdul Majid Khan and Muhammad Ayoub Khan
from Gujjarpatti village of Bandipora.
Later the two neighbors were released, but Army straightway denied the arrest of Nazir. Though shocked by the denial, Zaitoon didn’t give up. She went to the camp many a time. The repeated refusal of the Army forced her to move to the High Court. She filed a petition through her lawyer BA Tak in the court to seek whereabouts of her son.
“She is very poor and her husband has paralysis but she is a brave mother,” Tak said. “Years of struggle have not disillusioned her and she continues her fight for justice. She was harassed but nothing stopped her.”
On November 1, 1994 the court directed the District and Sessions Judge Varmul to hold an enquiry in her case.
The court conducted inquiry and found that Nazir Ahmad was really arrested by SD Singh and RP Singh, officials of the Dogra Regiment, and recommended to the concerned police station to register an FIR under section 302 of RPC against them. The police followed the court directions.
Last Thursday, Zaitoon along with her six children was in Srinagar in connection with the case in the High Court. “I am ailing and that is why I have brought my children here to show them where to pursue the case and whom to approach in case of my death,” Zaitoon said.
Praising the counsel, she said, he has never demanded any money from me. “Had he asked for it, I and my little children would have worked as labourers to pay him,” she said.
Tak said he was not alone who was fighting her case. “There are several others including GN Shaheen and MA Khan who are fighting the case,” he said.
The case is in final stage, said Tak.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Govt lied on release of 11 detainees

Chief Secretary says ‘I thought they were released’
Naseer A Ganai  
Srinagar, Nov 4: Jammu and Kashmir government has not released 11 detainees who it announced would be freed last month.
The cases of the 11 detainees were screened by the government’s screening committee and later it was announced they would be set free on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr.
But 10 days after the holy festival, the detainees are yet to be released, sources in the Home Department told Greater Kashmir on Saturday.
“The file has been sent to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for his approval but so far there has been no response,” they added. 
Some of the detainees are: Muhammad Altaf Mir of Shopian, Farooq Ahmad Banday of Beerwah, Manzoor Ahmad Ganai of Bandipora, Gulzar Ahmad of Islamabad, Irfan Ahmad Mir of Varmul, Abdul Majeed of Budgam, Muhammad Maqbool Wagay of Kulgam, Basheer Ahmad Bhat of Chadura and Bashir Ahmad Hajam of Kulgam.   
Chief Secretary C Phunsog expressed surprise when told that the detainees have not been released. “I thought they were released. You can check it with the DGP (Director General of Police),” he said. The DGP was not available for comment.
However a senior police official said holidays and Darbar Move caused delay in the release of the 11 prisoners. “Once the Civil Secretariat opens in Jammu and the Chief Minister will have a look at the file, they will be released,” he said. 
Mian Abdul Qayoom, senior counsel and president of Kashmir High Court Bar Association said the screening committees, which are in the district and the state level, were formed by the government to “pass judgments on recommendation of advisory committees set up under the Public Safety Act or High Court judgments which set aside PSA detentions.”
He said the screening committees were responsible for the re-detention of detainees. “Whenever PSA of a detainee is quashed by the High Court, the detainees are not released because screening committees don’t want their release,” he said.   
Mir Shafqat Hussain, a lawyer who has pleaded cases of some of the detainees on the list said the High Court has already quashed detention of some of the detainees. “Now the screening committee has ordered their release, it’s strange why government has not released them,” he said.   
Meanwhile, local news agency CNS quoted relatives of the 11 detainees saying that “We met senior official in the Secretariat but they said approval of release of their wards has not been given so far.”

Thursday, October 12, 2006

In 2005 Delhi promised Rs 1342 crores

Year after only 432.01 crores released 
Earthquake victims wait for 2nd installment 
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, Oct 12: The New Delhi which last year had promised the state of whopping aid in view of earthquake has failed to fulfill its promise.
Reports submitted by the State government before the Division Bench of the High Court are showing that Government has so far received Rs 432.01 crores. 
The State government had sought financial assistance of Rs 1342 crore from the centre government for relief and rehabilitation of earthquake hit victims. 
The Government claims that it has spent Rs 542.21 crores on the victims of earthquake so far.  
In Varmul district alone 14500 suffers have not been paid their second and third installment. The additional commissioner Varmul informed the Court that he requires Rs 90 crore to provide second and third installment to people.  
The situation is not different in Kupwara district. The additional deputy commissioner Kupwara informed the Court that 3160 victims were not paid second and third installment and said he requires Rs 30 crore.  
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir said that the State government had decided to release an amount of Rs 52.00 crore to meet the expenditure of second and third installment. He said money has been released with Rs 25 crore released to DC Varmul and Rs 20 crore to DC Kupwara.
The Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice B.A Khan and Justice Bashir A. Kirmani directed the State government to pay second and third installment to the victims before on set of winter before December 20, 2006. The Court also directed the Chief Secretary to arrange required funds for the Deputy Commissioner Varmul and Deputy Commissioner Kupwara. The Court asked the secretary to Government of India Ministry of Finance that funds committed by the central government shall be released before the onset of earthquake. The case is listed for hearing on October 16. On this day the government have to provide latest details about the release of funds to the Court. 

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Pick-n-Choose Departmental Store of GAD-Aisi 'Azadi' Aur Kahan

Pick-n-Choose Departmental Store of GAD – Aisi 'Azad'i Aur Kahan
More judicial activism is needed to "highlight" GAD's love for the blue-eyed
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, October 7, 2006:- The recent censure of the State High Court (HC) when it took suo moto action to seek an explanation from the Government for promotion of a junior judicial officer (Munsiff) Afroz Mir to the post of Director, Defence Labour Procurement (DLP) has again brought to light the murky ways of the General Administration Department (GAD), which has been working as a job-finder outpost for the blue-eyed kin of our politicians and bureaucrats.
Little fact of the matter is that Afroz, who was promoted "in the interest of administration" from the post of an under secretary (he was working as an Assistant Legal Remembrancer in the Law Department where he was already on deputation) to the post of Director DLP, which is a special secretary post, because he was the son of an ex-Minister and a senior PDP leader Ghulam Hassan Mir. That what is shocking also is the fact that the decision was taken in the absence of Commissioner Secretary GAD, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, who was away in England attending a training course
The HC censure has opened a can of worms in the GAD with more skeletons tumbling out and embarrassing the GAD for its naughty rule twisting exercises to benefit people having considerable influence in the corridors of power.
The recent appointment of an Audit Officer in the State Cooperative Department Mehmood Ahmad Shah as Assistant Commissioner Development (ACD) Srinagar along with three other Deputy Registrars of the same department has caused much heartburn in the 1999 KAS/CCS batch. Rubbishing aside the PSC merit list, Shah, who figures at Serial No.105 has been made ACD ahead of over a 100 other officers triggering a near revolt from the 1999 KAS/CCS officers. Sources revealed that Shah has been picked as he happens to be the elder brother of the son-in-law of a senior bureaucrat, considered to be one of the most powerful in the state administration.
" Mehmood has benefited because of faulty existing rules within GAD for direct recruits appointed by the PSC. While they retain top 5-6 candidates and confer junior KAS status on them, the remainder are dumped in 17 feeding cadre services where their inter se seniority is fixed along with other promotees. Hence the present stalemate," explains an under secretary of the 1999 batch preferring anonymity. "A common seniority list within the GAD paving way for promotion into the senior cadre strictly as per the merit fixed by PSC is the solution to the crisis," added the officer. An outcome of the faulty system can be gauged from the fact that the 1999 batch CCS officers allotted Industries and Revenue Departments are running from pillar-to-post for fixation of seniority within the department. Shockingly, the Industries Department is yet to fix seniority of its officers for the last more than 22 years. In fact, another batch of 23 candidates allotted Industries Department in 2001 is also sailing in the same boat.
A delegation of the 1999 batch officers have met the Chief Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad and brought this serious issue to his notice. "The CM has taken note and the matter has been referred to the Chief Secretary. We hope our grievances are redressed," hopes another officer from the 1999 batch.
Of the 260 candidates selected in 1999, after a hiatus of nearly 15 years, 6 were conferred junior KAS, 81 were recruited into police and 40 were allotted Accounts service. The remaining candidates were distributed into 17 general feeding services. Interestingly, the junior KAS officers were promoted in a time-bound manner in 2003 strictly as per merit obtained in PSC exam. Ditto for police and accounts services where most of the officers have already been promoted as SPs and Financial Advisors. "How much more humiliation will we take. Not only have we seen our batch-mates promoted in 2003 but the junior KAS of 2001 batch have also been promoted this year. To rub salt into our wounds, now a batch-mate figuring at Serial No.105 has carved his way past over 100 colleagues to the post of ACD, courtesy GAD," rues a Tehsildar who figures much ahead of his fellow officer. The officers have been for years demanding issuance of a common seniority which, it seems for now, has no takers. Ironically, those officers are finding themselves in the lurch for whom this service has been primarily created.
Sources revealed that the Establishment-cum-Selection Committee constituted by the Government, which is blowing hot and cold over the issue of common seniority, has now rejected in principal the concept of common seniority retrospectively with the remarks that the issue can be considered prospectively. Reliable sources have further revealed that the Establishment Committee had earlier agreed to the proposal when Mr. Vijay Bakaya headed the state administration. "It is a mystery that why the proposal was not tabled for the cabinet nod," says another under secretary. It has been learnt that another blue-eyed boy lurking down in the PSC merit list will be "reprieved" by the present system and a member of the Establishment Committee is working overtime to ensure that the common seniority doesn't take effect retrospectively. "It is a strange remedy. It is just like a doctor telling fellow doctors that Aids vaccine should not be given to people living now but those who will take birth later," says an ETO of 1999 batch.
Ironically the Chief Secretary Mr. C. Phunsong and Commissioner Secretary GAD Mr. Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, whom Greater Kashmir talked to, seemed to agree that a common seniority list is the solution to the crisis that is certain to aggravate if not addressed immediately. It has been learnt that Ganai is "unhappy" that such important decisions were taken in his absence and also when he was about to resume services in a week's time.
Sources revealed that there is a strong politician-bureaucrat lobby that is preventing the issuance of a common seniority list. "A common seniority will stop this joke of pick-n-choose policy shown largely in the interest of administration and also stop the government from picking blue-eyed officers for lucrative postings. It will also sound a death-knell of another routine policy of appointing officers to higher cadre posts in OPG ( Own Pay & Grade) that has been done in case of Afroz Mir and Mehmood Ahmad Shah," says an under secretary.
Such is the state of working in the GAD that it seems whenever another transfer/posting order is issued, the state High Court will have to take suo moto look for more Afrozes and Mehmoods tucked lucratively somewhere towards the lower end of the list. Unless that happens, the GAD will continue to behave like a departmental store where the mighty and the influential will reap illegitimate benefits by relaxing rules and yes again in the interest of administration!!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

In JK, Govt doesn't respect merit

Resentment brewing in KAS cadre
Srinagar, Oct 3: The recent government order to promote four officers of the Cooperative Department to higher posts in other departments has again brought focus on Combined Civil Services Examination or KAS with officers of prime feeding services accusing the government of making a mockery of merit. 
Last week the government passed two orders promoting Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Deputy Registrar Cooperative as Assistant Commissioner Development in Rural Development Department, Ghulam Rasool Kar, Deputy Registrar Cooperative has been posted in higher cadre in other department, Tanveer Iqbal, Deputy Registrar Cooperative as SDM Mahore, Anuradha, Deputy Registrar as Development Officer in Handicrafts. 
The promotion of these four officers who, according to Under Secretaries in Revenue Department, were figuring in “least priority department” after they qualified the KAS examination in 1999, has caused resentment among the officers in the Secretariat and the Revenue services. 
“There are 17 feeding cadres and candidates are allotted feeding services as per the merit. The toppers get Secretariat, Revenue services and other services and those who with lower merit get Cooperative and Stationary services,” said an Under Secretary. 
He said government by promoting four officials as ACDs has made mockery of the merit list. “Tomorrow when they will be confirmed and they people will be our seniors,” he added. The officers say if the government had to promote some officials why did it choose those who stood at the tail of merit list. 
It is not the first time when officers are feeling dejected by government’s handling of the issue. Earlier, there was row over the induction of junior KAS. In 1999, 260 candidates qualified the CCS with 81 and 32 joining the Police and the Accounts services respectively and six candidates were designated as junior KAS. 
In 2002, another batch came up and in it four candidates were taken into junior KAS. Now as the induction of 1999 batch officers seems remote possibility, these four candidates who are many years junior to them will be officers of their seniors. 
The officers say Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service Rules suffer from inherent deficiencies, and the objective of providing equal opportunities to officers selected through Combined Competitive Examination is not being achieved. In some services, they say, the faulty system also helps candidates with lower merit to get an opportunity of induction before the candidates with higher merits where the vacancies have not become available for one or the other reason. 
They argue that the Combined Service Officers as a whole should be an exclusive group, who come through a common entrance test or a competitive examination conducted by the PSC. And logically, this group should be promoted to the next scales on the basis of their merit obtained in the competitive examinations notwithstanding their allocation of services, which can at best be treated as an administrative exigency, they said. 
Sources said the government had earlier constituted Establishment Committee headed by former Chief Secretary Vijay Bakaya to frame common seniority for KAS. The committee agreed that the common seniority should be framed for the KAS, sources said. But then proposal was never tabled before the cabinet. 
However, Chief Secretary C Phunsog described the promotions as ad hoc ones and said that the government was seriously thinking over common seniority. He said the government was examining common seniority proposal and wants that it should be on the pattern of the IAS and other competitive services. He said he could understand the resentment among the officials who were at higher position in merit list but under old rules they were not getting benefit. 
The Commissioner Secretary General Administrative Department, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai describes promotion of the four officials as interim measure. He said they have been promoted under replacement method following vacancies of some posts occupied by officers who were originally from Cooperative services. 
Ganai said the government was seriously considering combined seniority for combined services as per the merit list of the examination. He agreed that presently the merit list gets disturbed due to replacement method. 

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Which Jammu, Which Ladakh

Naseer A Ganai comments on politics of identities and languages in Jammu and Kashmir
On February 2, 2006, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq while addressing a rally at Shaheedi Chowk Jammu said silent majority in Jammu division has all along supported Kashmir cause. “Some people have been opposing our interaction with you and they created doubts between us. But now it is over. We will oppose any solution based on regionalism and religion, and New Delhi cannot ignore sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Few days after the rally, the National Conference president Omer Abdullah addressed a press conference. Apart from criticizing Mufti’s self-rule, he also talked about rally of Mirwaiz. “I salute young Mirwaiz’s courage. Even I’ll think ten times before organizing such a rally here,” he said.
Eleven months down the line, on January 2, 2007 the Himalayan Mail of the Indian Express carried news report having headline “In Jammu, Geelani cheered.” “Geelani’s provocative speech, pro-freedom slogans in the huge procession just after call for peace and assurance from CM have raised lot of questions,” the report apparently perturbed by the “huge rally” says.
There is no doubt the Government might have got shock by the support, which people earlier accorded to Mirwaiz and now to Geelani. But the pro-freedom leadership also might have been surprised over the support from Jammu province especially in the Jammu district.

Misconceptions about Jammu Division
There are many reasons for it. Kashmiris presume Kashmiri could be found only in Kashmir valley and when they hear people of Gool Gulab Garh, Doda talking and speaking in Kashmiri they often get a shock. Moreover, most of the valley based Kashmiris presume once a person crosses Banihal tunnel, he is in Jammu district. But upto Patnitop, the area falls under Doda district.
The wrong notions about Poonch, Doda, Rajouri, Udhampure even Jammu district has done great damage to pro-freedom politics in Jammu and Kashmir and those who were espousing the cause of self-determination were described as leaders of certain pockets of Kashmir and Kashmir dispute confined to Kashmir valley only. However, there are politicians in Jammu and Kashmir who are well versed with topography and demography of the State and they know what people actually want. Farooq Abdullah is one of them.
In a recent article carried by the Frontline magazine, noted political commentator writes about Farooq Abdullah and his views on trifurcation of the State.
“The BJP regime at the Centre began gingerly to promote trifurcation of the State after the RSS spokesman M.G Vaidya said on September 3, 2000 that “RSS was in favour of trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.” Noorani writes that the then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah warned, in that event the districts of Doda, Poonch and Rajouri would not live with Jammu and that would trigger something worse than Jammu massacres in 1947. The Chief Minister, Noorani says, was alive of implications and he then quoted Farooq’s statement carried by this paper on December 2000 “India will be left with two and a half districts while so-called Greater Kashmir would go on a platter to Pakistan eventually.”
Jammu has six districts. Three of its six districts have a Muslim majority-Doda, (64 per cent), Poonch (89 per cent) and Rajouri ( 61 percent). The other three districts are Udhampure, Jammu and Kathua with Gool, Gulab Garh Tehsils having Kashmiri speaking Muslim population. That is why Farooq said on trifurcation Indian will be left with two and half districts. It clearly indicates that aspirations of people of these areas are not different from the aspirations of the valley.
Ladakh is not all about Leh and Ladakh Union Territory Front or Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA). The Kargil population constitutes 50 percent of total population Ladakh. And Muslim leaders of Kargil oppose Union Territory status for Ladakh and LBA. There is large section Kargil who prefer to identify themselves with Kashmir valley rather than Leh.
Ethnic Kashmiris and others
No doubt Kashmiris living in the valley have suffered immensely during past 16, 17 years and pro-freedom leadership will have excuse that they were so pre-occupied with Kashmir that it didn’t get time to show their support base in other areas. But if they have started coming out and organizing rallies in Jammu division, it will shatter many myths and theories that Kashmir dispute is confined to Kashmir alone and ethnic Kashmiris are only people who want right to self-determination.
The people of these areas have been fed with lies about Kashmir and Kashmiris. The Gujjar and Pahari leadership blamed Kashmiris for every problem confronted by their communities. But when you look at leadership of Gujjars and Paharis, that is elite leadership having assets worth crores and remotely linked with their people. The Gujjar and the Pahari leadership who have over the years tried to projected Kashmiris as hate figures among their communities, have no qualms when it comes to establishing relations with Kashmiris.
The Gujjar and the Pahari leaders have relations with Kashmiris and they even tie nuptial knots of their sons and daughters with Kashmiris.
Years on, people who reside in Teetwal, Tanghdar and Uri and other areas were fed on lies that Kashmiris have discriminated against them or they treat them as second class citizens. But when in these 50 years once Kashmiri got chance to help them after the earthquake, the people in these areas saw the real Kashmiri. Out there with everything to help their brothers in distress. Even today people of these areas remember this and they say “Kashmiris came like anything and with everything.”
Moreover, Kashmiris should remember that people of Poonch, Rajouri, and Doda and other areas of Jammu division are not today’s victims. They have been victims all along and always they had pinned hope that Kashmir would relieve them. The first struggle against Maharaja didn’t start from Srinagar. But it was from Poonch and it was brutally crushed. Alister Lamb describes massacres of Poonch from September 1947 to December 1947 as genocide of Muslims. The genocide perturbed so much to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah that he said, “whatever is happening in Poonch is direct result of oppression of Maharaja. Maharaja’s Army has started war against the people who are fighting for their rights.”
Noted Kashmir commentator P.G Rasool writes in his book Kashmir 1947, that on October 22 1947 speaking at Budshah Chowk, Sheikh Abdullah said it is sheer lie when people say State was attacked by tribals. Those who are coming are not outsiders but the state subjects. And to quell the struggle of people of Poonch, Dogra Army has gone on killing spree forcing brave Poonch people to take weapons against autocratic rule. These are very people who are being portrayed as tribal attackers.”
But after few days Sheikh when appointed as Prime Minister by Maharaja took U-turn and started his movement against “tribals” who few days ago were state subjects.
And after 1947 it is enough if these people are living.
Their concerns, our concerns
Opening of road between Doda and Desa is long dream of thousands of people. In Poonch, Rajouri opening of Mughal road is dream, which so far has not materialized. Opening of road links could bring people who share same aspirations, close to each other. And once people having same aspirations, get close it erases many doubts.
The pro-India politicians had many doubts about Pakistan presuming it as most backward country of the world. But when they returned from Pakistan tour last year they had different perceptions. The then BJP president Nirmal Singh described “Islamabad like Europe.”
Media creates false images of people, their culture, their history and when there is no interaction one starts believing what media tells them. But once people become close to each other, particularly those who have common aspirations, common goals but are divided by artificial walls, closure of roads, they realize injustice has been done to them. So if the resident of Poonch, Rajouri says Kashmir have discriminated against them, Kashmiris should take it in the right spirit. It is not a complaint but mistrust sown in the minds of people who share common goals and interests, and it should be taken in that sprit.
Because understanding of issues at this juncture is of utmost importance. Two persons were killed in Leh and they got hill council. Kashmiris have lost one lakh and they don’t know what is in store for them.
So those who have given sacrifices of one lakh should remain at guard that others should not reap benefits on their account. That they should not be divided in the name of culture, language. Or in the name of identities and politics in Jammu and Kashmir. That in case of settlement, decision of those who have given their blood as an investment, should prevail.
Pahris, Gujjars too have responsibilities. The ST status does not help to elevate communities economically. It only helps in getting lower rung government jobs, and creates rift among the communities who share same past and same future outlook.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sufism, Peace and Conflict Resolution

Kashmiriyat, Sufism are colonial discourses

By Naseer A. Ganai 

The five-day workshop on “Peace and Conflict Resolution” organised by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism,
Mumbai in collaboration with an NGO, “Eves Welfare Association” concluded here Friday with most of the local speakers terming Kashmiriyat and Sufism “as propagated by India and Indian intellectuals as colonial discourses aimed at dubbing purely political movement of Kashmiris as religious one.” 

The local speakers objected to the manner in which topics were selected by the organizers and stated that they consider juxtaposition of topics like history of emergence of Kashmir problem with Sufism and
syncretic culture in Kashmir valley, freedom struggle, communalism problem and genesis of Pakistan, and Indian society-composite culture as “part of colonial discourse.” 

The strong reaction from participants, mostly students, forced noted intellectual from
Mumbai Asgar Ali Engineer to say, “Let us agree to disagree.” 
Engineer, who spoke on various topics including ‘Indian Nationhood and Kashmir,’ ‘Islam Jihad and Terrorism,’ and ‘Indian society-composite culture and
syncretic tradition,’ had to face most of the questions by participants. 
Even some speakers described his discourse on creation of Pakistan as a view of Indian intellectual, forcing him to say, “I am not an Indian intellectual. I have my own views and it has nothing to do with what government of India says.” 

On third day of the workshop on Wednesday,
Asgar Ali Engineer spoke about Pakistan, and said creation of Pakistan “has done unimaginable damage to Muslims of subcontinent.” He said Muhammad Ali Jinnah “was not a leader of masses but leader of Muslim elite, and it was Muslim elite who created Pakistan.” 
He said when Pakistan was created, the elite there never looked back to see what happened to Muslims in India. He said Pakistan was created for Muslims but the question is why it was created and had it fulfilled its goals? He then mentioned about status of
Muhajirs in Pakistan, sectarian riots and creation of Bangladesh. He said more Muslims were killed during Bangladesh war than in riots in India. 
However, audience insisted on India’s stand on Kashmir and charged India of denying
Kashmiris their rights. The discussions went on for quiet some time with Asgar Ali Engineer saying, “Yes I consider Kashmir as an occupation and want that it should be given freedom or autonomy.” 

On Tuesday, columnist Z G Muhammad urged Indian intellectuals that they should desist from talking about ‘
madrassa culture’ of Jammu and Kashmir, and should not try to equate it with ‘madrassa culture in India and Pakistan.’ He said Kashmir does not have any ‘madrassa culture.’ “It might be in Lucknow, in Delhi or in Pakistan but not in Kashmir, and when I am not part of it why should you talk to me on this issue,” he said. He said some myths about Kashmir are being projected as history by Delhi-based intellectuals, and projection of Kashmiriyat, Madrassa or Sufi Islam are some of these myths masqueraded as history. 
“Islam is Islam and there is no such thing as
Kashmiri Islam which you call Kashmiriyat,” Zahid said. He said even if for the sake of argument “your theory about Kashmiriyat is taken seriously, then you have to acknowledge it’s Islam, which brought Kashmiriyat in Jammu and Kashmir.” He said Kashmiri Muslims had never any grouse against their Pandit brethren. “And still Kashmiriyat and Sufi Islam like terms are being thrust upon us, that too by those, who have history of communal violence,” he said. 

The Wednesday afternoon session witnessed heated arguments with speaker
Syed Fazlullah saying that Sufism does not mean silence and abdication. He said great Sufi saints here always preached how to safeguard their rights and how to fight for them. His speech and later comments by participants who termed the terms like Sufi Islam and Kashmiriyat “part of colonial discourse propagated by India in Jammu and Kashmir.” 
Asgar Ali Engineer strongly reacted to it, and described the comments as “un-parliamentary.” Kashmiris, he said, have Sufi syncretic culture, and it was because of this the topic was selected. 

Hameeda Nayeem, who teaches English Literature in Kashmir University, in her address on Friday talked about peace and conflict, and said right to self-determination would bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir and not discourse on Sufism and Kashmiriyat. She described Kashmiriyat and Sufism as “colonial discourse,” and said India was propagating Kashmiriyat to dub purely political movement of Kashmiris as religious one. 
Hameeda said Kashmiriyat was being propagated to give communal colour to the political movement. “So much paper has been wasted on this Kashmiriyat in order to project that Kashmiri Muslims don’t want Pandits here. For this purpose they made zoo of Kashmiri Pandits and showed it to world but they miserably failed in all this and today it is the Kashmiri Pandits who say communal forces from outside the state are occupying their temples. They consider Kashmiri Muslims their best friends,” she said. 
She said Kashmir dispute was all about denial of right to self-determination to people of
Jammu and Kashmir and the present movement was totally political in nature having nothing to do with religion. She said it were some lunatic fringe elements, who have projected Kashmir as religious problem and thus gave India “biggest propaganda tool” to discredit “genuine political freedom movement of people of Jammu and Kashmir.” 
She said peace could not be forced on victims (
Kashmiris) by preaching peace, Kashmiriyat and Sufi Islam. “Peace does not mean silence of guns. Peace does not mean silence of graveyard. Peace means just-peace and restoration of right to self-determination to Kashmiris will bring just-peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” she said. 

Asgar Ali Engineer talked about communal riots and described political agendas as root cause of any communal riots. He said riots take place because of political vested interests. He described Mughal emperor Arungzeb’s demolition of a temple as political decision, and said if he demolished one temple, he also constructed many temples. “And that part is ignored by the historians,” he said. 
He said it were politicians who create textbooks, not genuine historians. 

BJP came to power it changed all history text books and now when Congress is in power its Human Resources Development Minister wants history in his own way, and terms it detoxification,” Engineer added.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Roshni or darkness?

 Now State won’t get Rs 25000 crore: Govt

It won’t get even Rs 6000 crore: Opp

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, Apr 13: A widow of Dewan Jawalla Sahai, who had given substantial money to Maharaja Gulab Singh when he purchased Kashmir from British through Amritsar treaty for Rs 75 lakh, owned 120,000 kanals of land in Islamabad, Kulgam, Awantipora and other areas. In Kulgam Tehsil it was difficult for people to bury their dead as almost all land had proprietorship of the widow. Raja of Chenani alone owned 310,000 kanals of land. 

And when on October 17, 1950, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah declared policy of liquidating the big landed estates and transferring land to tiller by enacting Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the land of these people was reduced to only 182 kanals.

Now 60 years down the line, when chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad  describes Jammu and Kashmir State Lands(vesting of ownership to occupants) Amendment Act, 2006, commonly known as Roshni act, as landmark legislation and compares it with the land to tiller, many people scoff at the claim.

Former Minister Muhammad Shafi Uri describes land to tiller reforms as revolutionary step, which empowered 87 per cent people in the Jammu and Kashmir State.

Landlords were given right over only 180 kanals of land and later when Agrarian Reforms Act was enacted, it was slashed to 100 kanals,” he said.

He said comparing Roshni Act with the Land to Tiller was an insult to the land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah. He said land to tiller transferred 2.5 lakh acres to the tillers and it was given to them without any compensation. Also, he said with it 2.35 lakhs acres got transferred to the State which was later given to tillers. He said Sheikh empowered common people and took away land from those who had grabbed it from the common people. “Here, through this Roshni Act you are empowering land grabbers allowing them to have thousands of Kanals of land they have occupied illegally in and around Tawai and other areas of the State,” he said. He said it does not require any investigation that who will be its beneficiary. “Only rich, elite and land grabbers who had audacity to grab the land and now have benevolent government who gave them its rights,” he said.

Former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather who had conceptualized the Roshni scheme has also tough words for amendments made to the Act. He said the way present government brought legislation has marred the whole scheme. Elaborating, he said, when National Conference brought the law it described vacant land as a state land and had also included illegally occupied land as vacant land. “But present government amended clause c of the Act and agreed to give propriety rights to land grabbers who had illegally occupied the land,” he said. 

He said the Act was named as Roshni Act so that whatsoever revenue will come out of it will be used in power sector. “That clause has been also omitted,” Rather said. Now, he said, no one knows where will the money go, if at all something will come. He said when NC brought legislation it had kept January 1990 as cut of date and has described any land state land, which was vacant. It has also described illegally occupied land occupied after 1990 as State land keeping so many factors in consideration, he said. 

“Here they have kept everything open. Even now anyone can occupy State land and later get its property rights. No record has been taken away from possession of Patwaris. Thus, anyone can make entry and in villages where you have to pay only Rs 100 for property rights, anyone could induce revenue officials. This will breed corruption and more corruption and State will suffer immensely,” he said. He said land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah usurped land from land grabbers and gave that to tillers free of cost. “Here you are giving property rights to land grabbers who have occupied Nazool land in cities and Khalisa land in villages. Earlier government had claimed it would get Rs 25000 crores out of the Roshni Act but now it has other opinion.

The Congress Minister Taj Mohideen, who in legislative assembly strongly defended the Act, continues to describe it one of the landmark legislation of the State.

 “We have given Rs 20,000 crores worth of land free of cost to people,” he said. He however said now the State government will get only Rs 6000 crore out it as for villages registration has been fixed Rs 100 only. He said it was only upto 2004, after it no occupation will be considered legal. Asked about allegations that land grabbers have empowered by this legislation, he said in Sheikh Abdullah time the landlords too had property rights and later it was transferred to tillers. “Here we also gave land free of cost to villagers,” he said.

But Rather disagrees. “One wonders where from government get it. They have neither fixed zones, nor they have determined the prices. The State has thrown away its land,” he said.

Now the question is how much of the State land has been occupied over the years. Figures vary and there seems to be no actual data on ground. Rather says Revenue officials told him that 11 lakhs kanals of the State land has been occupied illegally. Sources in Revenue Department said that total illegally encroached land was 20 lakh kanals in the State as reported by Deputy Commissioners. Sources said boundaries have not been defined making everything ambiguous. The Commissioner Secretary Revenue Masood Samoon too seems to be groping in dark. He says he don’t know how much land has been encroached upon over the years. “Exact figures are not lying with me. I have to cross check it first,” said the official.





In box

Raj Tilak Boon

On November 5, 1951 the then Revenue Minister Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg said compensation should be given to landlords. His argument was: “Maharaja Hari Singh on ascending the throne in 1924-25 issued a Royal Proclamation called the Raj Tilak Boon. On the basis of this declaration Maharaja permitted the landlords to annex Village Common Lands (Shamilat) with their holdings. These Shamilat came into possession of landlords apart from cultivated land they already possessed. And with this the landholder who had 1000 kanals got further 1000 kanals of land grants on the basis of Raj Tilk Boon. And those who had 2000 kanals got 2000 kanals of Shamilat.

Under Royal proclamations Hari Singh allowed landlords to usurp forest, and Shamilat (village common lands) land and with it landlords who had one thousand kanals got 4000 kanals more in Jammu and in Kashmir they got 8000 kanals more. Deceit and frauds also took place while these orders were operated so much that land of pity land holders were also grabbed by influential elements with their lands. In Kashmir 160,000 acres and in Jammu 310,000 acres were given away by Maharaja by way Raj Tilak Boon.”



Fixation of prices under Roshni Act

For residential use authorized occupants (where lease has been granted) will have to pay 25 per cent of the total value for upto 2 kanals.

In 3 to 10 kanals, 40 per cent and for more than 10 kanals full value of the land has to be paid or as determined by committee.

For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 35 per cent of total value has to be paid for 2 kanals or as determined by committee. For 3 to 10 Kanals, 50 per cent of the total value and for more than 10 kanals occupants either have to surrender beyond ten kanals or pay full value which will be determined by the committee.

For unauthorized occupants who are in possession upto 2 kanals (where no lease has been granted or allotment made) price has been fixed 40 per cent of the total value. For 3 to 10 kanals, 50 per cent of the total cost has been fixed.

Commercial area

In commercial area authorized occupants (where lease has not expired) will have to pay 30 per cent of the total value. For authorized over stayed occupants (where lease has expired) they will have to pay 45 per cent of the total value. And for unauthorized occupants (where no lease was granted) 60 per cent of the total value has been fixed.

Political Institutions

The land which has been used for what government says institutional use, like educational, religious, charitable, social and political parties recognized by election commission of India, rate list is:

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

Agriculture Land

For agriculture land upto 100 kanals token money of Rs 100 has to be paid for maintenance of records.

Religious purposes 

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.










Monday, March 27, 2006

Magermal Bagh firing

Delhi HC’s verdict on Magermal Bagh firing
Exonerates CRPF personnel, says they deserve award not punishment

Srinagar, Mar 27: Exonerating four Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel who were indicted by the then Inspector General of CRPF for “resorting to indiscriminate firing causing heavy casualties to the civilians” on January 19, 1991 at Magermal Bagh Srinagar, the Delhi High Court has revoked dismissal order issued by IGP terming it as “non application of mind on the part.” 
The Court directed reinstatement of CRPF personnel with all consequential benefits. 
The Division Bench of Delhi High Court comprising Justice Mukul Mudgal, Justice H.R Malhotra passed the judgment on a writ petition WP 2759 in case K.G Gopi and others versus Union of India and others and described the CRPF personnel deserve award not punishment. 
Case History 
The petitioners have said that on January 19, 1991 while returning in their vehicles after collection of the dak, “ they were ambushed by militants who threw bombs on the petitioners and also fired heavily by using AK 47 rifles. In reaction to the attack petitioners resorted to firing.” 
In the incident 11 persons including two women were killed and 23 others were injured. Some of them later succumbed to injuries. 
The CRPF authorities however felt that the CRPF personnel resorted to indiscriminate and excessive firing and on September 1991, through office memo authorities informed eight CRPF personnel that the departmental inquiry would be initiated against them for “committing an act of gross misconduct.” 
Charge sheet 
The charge produced against them on September 28, 1991 reads, “All the eight delinquents were posted/attached with HQ/Coy. 42 Bn CRPF for duties. On January 19, 1991 they were detailed as escort party of two dak collection vehicles Regn. No.DBL-68231 CRPF No.18-Cheton and DBP 8167/Minibus of the unit. These vehicles used to go daily to APO for dispatch/collection of dak. When on January 19, 1991 these two dak collection vehicles were returning after completion of the duty some unidentified militants attacked these vehicles throwing a bomb followed by firing from automatic weapons in Magarmal Bagh area Srinagar at about 1415 hrs. The aforesaid personnel to counter the militants firing on them, instead of judiciously replying to militants fire resorted to indiscriminate and excessive firing from their weapons issued to them for duty from running vehicles over a stretch of about 1 KM on the main road (Silk factory Road) passing through Magarmal area. The action of each of them in this incident was therefore, prejudicial to good order and discipline of the force and thereby each of them committed an act of gross misconduct as a member of the force U/s 11 (1) of C.R.P.F. Act, 1949.” 
Inquiry report 
The inquiry officer submitted his report on December 14, 1991 holding that charges framed against the petitioners were not proved. The report reads: “All eight delinquents travelling in one ton (Tata 610) truck and one minibus on bonafide government duty on January 19, 1991, had resorted to firing from their respective weapons in retaliation to militant attack on their vehicles with bomb and firing from automatic weapons like AK-47 assault rifles in area Saraibala Lane Crossing at about 1415 hours on January 19, 1991 and in self-defense against the said attack so that they could come out of the area safely with vehicles and their own lives. As natural to human being retaliatory firing done by each of the delinquents was different from that done by the other, as degree of reaction to a situation/incident by each individual differs. None of the delinquents had opened firing at his own but did so only after attack by militants. While four of the delinquents fired less number of rounds, remaining four fired more than 20 round. Each, depending on the reaction under their prevailing situation, by each of the delinquents. 
The term used in the article of charge that the delinquents had resorted to “Indiscriminate” and “excessive” firing are relative in nature. The retaliation by each individual to militants attack was bound to be different depending on nature of the individual concerned, his inability of judgment and assessment of a particular situation that prevails at a particular point of time and under a particular sequence of events and condition, coupled with the sense of self preservation of each individual.” Thus, he exonerated all the CRPF personnel. 
Disciplinary Authority 
However, the Disciplinary Authority over ruled the departmental enquiry and found the “four petitioners guilty of having fired indiscriminately which was not necessary in the context of the situation prevailing at that time.” 
The Disciplinary Authority report reads: “Firing by the militants had not caused any damage to the personnel as well as the vehicles in which these personnel were travelling and firing of 20 rounds or more by the delinquents in self defence is certainly excessive and indiscriminate. It is more so because they fired such large number of rounds without aiming at the militants who could not be spotted since the militants were firing from the houses in the area. 
It is of course not possible to ascertain if firing by the escort personnel had caused any death/injury to the civilians since the firing by escort personnel was without aim and from lying position on the body of the vehicles and firing was going on from all the directions by the militants as well as other security personnel deployed on the ground and moving in vehicles. Considering all aspects of the situation these personnel ought to have exercised restraint and controlled fire in self-defence. I, therefore, find all the above four persons guilty for resorting to excessive and indiscriminate firing thereby committing an act of misconduct as members of the Force U/s 11 (1) of C.R.P.F. Act, 1949.” 
The petitioners after undergoing the punishment awarded to them by the Disciplinary Authority were transferred to Assam from Srinagar. 
IGP’s action 
But on July 6, 1992, the Inspector General of Police, Southern Sector Hyderabad D.R Kartikeyan issued show cause notice to them that their punishment would be enhanced to “that of dismissal from service.” The IGP, however, gave them an opportunity to submit their written representation if any against the award of proposed punishment within 15 days. 
After examining the replies submitted by the petitioners, the IGP on July 29, 1992 the IGP suo motto passed an order holding petitioners guilty of indiscriminate and excessive firing “causing heavy casualties to the civilians.” And dismissed them from their service. 
The petitioners challenged the order in the Delhi High Court through a petition WP 2759/1994. 
After hearing the arguments the Court gave judgment on February 1, 2006. The Court said: 
“Infliction of punishment is normally the domain of the disciplinary authority or its higher authorities in the armed forces or in para military forces. The Courts ordinarily would not interfere unless circumstances so warrant the interference by way of judicial review as imperative. This is one such case where the conscience of the Court has been shocked. The petitioners who were soldiers in the CRPF showed exemplary courage as is evident from the report of the enquiry officer who had occasion to examine the witnesses who had actually witnessed the militants attack and retaliation by the petitioners. As noticed, the militants had laid ambush on a large scale. There was a bomb attack followed by firing from AK 47 rifles by the militants. The petitioners retorted swiftly and if the petitioners had not retorted at the appropriate time it could have turned into an ugly and bloody situation. It is not a case where the petitioners were found guilty of dereliction of duty. It is a case where according to the respondent they should have exercised restraint and should not have resorted to exercise firing. A bare reading of the evidence of the departmental enquiry where number of witnesses were examined leads us to an inescapable conclusion that far from being punished, the petitioners deserve to be rewarded.” 
The Court held the petitioners, who without caring for their lives, managed to thwart the militant’s attack which attack was quite severe in nature. Many lives could have been lost if the militants had not been dealt with in the manner they were dealt with by the petitioners. This Court after having appraised the evidence of the witnesses finds that the militants who suddenly started firing from their hidden positions not only with bombs but with A.K. 47 rifles, were rightly dealt with by the petitioners. The disciplinary authorities perhaps seems to have swayed away by the number of rounds used by these petitioners. This is clear from the fact that some of the co-delinquents who fired 8 rounds & 2 rounds were exonerated as their response was found commensurate with the provocation occasioned by the militants’ attack. However, the petitioner who fired 28,35,29 and 20 rounds respectively were dismissed. In our view both the disciplinary authorities and the I.G.P. purportedly exercising his powers under Rule 29 (d) of the CRPF rules, 1955 have been unnecessarily swayed by the number of rounds fired in face of an ambush by the militants. 
“The counsel for the respondent even in this court was unable to show to us anything in the past record of the petitioners which warranted dismissal straightway. This is another factor which demonstrates the casual approach of the IGP. Such orders are likely to affect the confidence of the security forces and are likely to make their responses in a critical situation rather timid. We are satisfied that the order of the enquiry officer and at best the disciplinary authority did not warrant interference. In any event the punishment is grossly disproportionate to the alleged offence. We, therefore, set aside the impugned order resulting in allowing the writ petition with no order as to costs and direct the reinstatement of the petitioners with all consequential benefits payable within six weeks and in any case not later than 15th March 2006,” the Court directed. 

Those whose death is ‘award’ for CRPF men 
Hassina daughter of Muhammad Yousuf Narakara Budgam, Ali Muhammad son of Ghulam Muhammad Lal Mandi (boatman), Abdul Khaliq Dar son of Ghulam Muhammad Dar Chararisharief, Muhammad Jabbar son of Abdul Gaffar Wanpo Khanda, Fahem Alam son of Isreal Alam, Muhammad Ashraf son of Gulam Muhammad Solina; Fazi wife of Muhammad Khan of Budgam; Bilal Ahmad Hajam son of Ghulam Ahmad Hajam, Sairibala, Fazail Maqbool son of Muhammad Maqbool of Magarmal Bagh, Habibullah son of Bismillah of Chadora.