Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Protests against Peerzada

Education minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed today said he would not resign over the allegation that he used unfair means to get his son passed in 10th class examination two years back.

Talking to media on phone, the minister alleged that politics was being played over the issue to “defame him.”
“There is no question of me resigning over the issue. My enemies want me to resign. They wanted me to resign in 2008 also, but people are with me. Till people are with me, I will never resign,” he said.

Peerzada stated that an NGO had sent a complaint to the governor who forwarded it to the chief minister’s secretariat. “They in turn forwarded it to the general administration department and after verification, it has been found fabricated, false and incorrect,” he said.

Peerzada said that the chief minister wanted the same file. “I met the chief minister along with commissioner secretary and BOSE chairman who clarified everything to Omar sahib. The same file has been forwarded to the crime branch and I welcome it,” he said.

The education minister said that his son appeared in 12th examination last year. “I am ready for a probe in his 12th examination also,” he said.

He threatened that he will file defamation cases against those who filed ‘false’ complaint against him.
“A strong lobby wants to defame me by leveling false allegations against me time and again,” the minister claimed.

MLA Langate Engineer Rashid led a protest demonstration at Press Enclave here demanding resignation of education minister on moral grounds following his alleged involvement in examination copying scam. Carrying placards and torches in their hands, they also raised anti Peerzada slogans including “Remove Peerzada, Save education.”

Talking to media persons, Engineer Rashid alleged that the “corrupt minister and officers were giving a bad name to education.” He appealed to the mainstream and separatist parties not to observe silence over the issue. “This whole scam needs a fair probe. For a fair probe, Peerzada must resign or chief minister using his power must shunt him out,” the MLA said. The protestors later dispersed peacefully.

Islamic Students Federation also held a protest demonstrations against the alleged copying scam. Its activists assembled at Press Enclave and lodged a protest. They said the issue must be taken seriously as it pertains to important sector of education.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Board Of School Education (BOSE) Dr Shiekh Bashir told KTNS that no unfair means were resorted to by the minister’s son during 10th class examination. "During the enquiry we conducted, no unfair means were detected. All the stories that appeared in the newspapers are baseless and are being fed by a board official for his petty interests."

He alleged that an official of the board is digging the stories, only for the sake of his own promotion. "A board official of the level of assistant secretary who was illegally holding the charge of joint secretary (secrecy) two years ago is the person behind all this concocted story. If the wrong was done two years back when he was in charge of the secrecy section why did he not expose it then? Going to media two years later with a baseless story clearly speaks about his ill intentions," chairman said.

Asked about a local daily showing the Urdu answer book of ministers' son written in two different hand writings, he said that it is a matter of investigation.  "Since the case has been handed over to crime branch for investigations, we should wait for what comes

out during the investigation. Nothing wrong was found during our investigation," he said.

Geelani calls for strike on Feb 7

Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today called for strike on protest on February 3 and valley wide shutdown on February 7 against the shifting of detainees to jails outside.

“The shifting of the detainees is a practice is pure vengeance and it is done just to harass the people of Kashmir. We cannot sit silent, therefore, strike shall be held on February 7 and before that the protest shall be staged on February 3,” Geelani said in a statement.

Lashing out at the authorities for the move, he said it is violation of the Supreme Court norms.“According to the Supreme Court ruling the prisoners are to be kept in the jails closest to their residence so that they could meet their kin. But here the rules are violated to harass people,” he said.The separatist leader said the strike was postponed to allow people participate in the Eid-i-Milad celebrations.

Liquor shops on Jammu Srinagar highway makes driving unsafe

Though alcohol laws, prohibiting drinking with driving are in place in the state, increasing number of liquor shops on the national highway puts a question mark on its scale of implementation.

Along the 300 km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the number of liquor shops are adding with each day. Scores of liquors shops can be found dotting the highway at short distances intervals. Besides bars and liquor shops, restaurants, food points and some rickety restaurants also sell liquor. The liquor selling outlets remain busy with customers, which not only include drivers but other commuters as well.

Though the sale of liquor along the national highway is lawful and hence licensed by authorities, legal experts see it as a major hurdle in the implementation of alcohol law and safeguarding lives.

“It is imperative to check the growth of liquor shops along the national highway to ensure the safety of commuters,” said advocate Nazir Ahmad Ronga.

He said a survey conducted in India has shows drivers to be most habitual to drinking. The national highway not only includes commercial traffic but private commuters as well, Ronga adds.

“On one hand, we have a law restricting drinking with driving and on flip side, license is easily been granted to liquor shops on national highway which is the most dangerous road,”Nazir says.

He said though setting up of liquor shops on highway is not restricted under law “but there is a need to check it. Proper guidelines should be followed before granting license.”

As liquor shops flourish on highway, hoarding warning commuters against the deadly consequences of mixing drinking with driving can be found every where.

Advocate M.Ashraf Wani stated that the law has to be amended to restrict the setting up of liquors shop on national highway

“The liquor shops on highway contradict the law for against drinking while driving. This has to be taking into consideration seriously,” said Ashraf.

He says liquor shops on highway provide temptation to the commuters who are already in habit of drinking.
“We are trying to stop a crime while providing way it too,” Wani said.

He stated that the law should be modified to completely stop the establishment of liquor shops on highway.
Besides, commuters also complain against the mounting number of liquor shops.

“Over the years, the number of liquor shop has increased two fold. People can be seen enjoying liquor at bar or restaurants,” said Muneer Ahmad, a trader.

He said he has often noted drivers purchasing or drinking liquor at these shops.“It is very unsafe for drivers to mix drinking with driving. Authorities should ban selling liquor on highway,” adds Tariq Ahmad, shawl vendor.

Speakers panel not related to Panchayats

The mandate of the Committee of Legislators constituted by the Speaker is only to discuss protocol and perks of legislators and it has nothing to do whatsoever with the transfer of powers to Panchayats.

This was stated by a government spokesman today setting at rest speculations which formed the basis of some news reports as well that the high level panel set up by the Speaker would also settle the issue of transfer of power to Panchayats.

The constitution of panel had created apprehensions in the minds of those votaries for complete empowerment of Panchayats that the draft to be prepared would aim at curbing the powers of Panchayats and ensure the dominating role to the legislators in the power conflict which has emerged after the Panchayat elections.

A spokesman of the government said that all misgivings and canards in this connection were spread by vested interests. He stated that the powers of Panchayats were enshrined in the Panchayat Raj Act and administrative orders issued from time to time in this regard and added that the government stands committed to a strong and empowered Panchayat Raj system in the state. He further asserted that no effort would ever be allowed from any quarter to dilute these powers.

The government spokesman reiterated the government’s firm commitment for a powerful Panchayat Raj and tried to dispel, what it was chosen to describe as, “all efforts to create confusion by some quarters on one or the other pretext” and described them as baseless.

“The government is committed to transfer of powers to Panchayats to make these powerful units of governance at the grass root level,” the spokesman said reiterating that the Committee constituted by the Speaker would have no role whatsoever in the transfer of powers to the Panchayats.
The spokesman said that Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah had already set in motion the process of transfer of powers to the Panchayats and till now more than fifty services of fourteen departments had been transferred to the Panchayats besides granting Rs 1.00 lakh to each Panchayat to carry out works in their Panchayat Halqas.

Notably the Speaker has constituted a joint committee of both Houses of the Legislature to prepare a draft for the legislation to identify powers of the MLAs. The panel is headed by senior National Conference leader Chowdhary Mohammed Ramzan.

The panel, also comprising MLAs Harsh Dev Singh, G M Saroori, Abdul Majeed Wani, Abdul Gaffar Sofi, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and MLCs Ravinder Sharma and Ajay Sadhotra, will submit its report before the budget session so that the government could consider it.

The panel after its constitution met for the second time today and deliberated the issue. Given the lack of consensus on certain issues, the participants felt the need to deliberate them further. The next meeting of panel has been scheduled on February 2.

Interlocutors report to be made public

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the government will make public the report of interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is fully briefed about it.

Chidambram said the CCS had a short meeting after the report was submitted, but thecommittee desired “a fuller meeting”.

The minister, who addressed the media about his ministry's work in January, said the Prime Minister's Office will decide on the date of the CCS meeting.

“The moment CCS is briefed, the report will be made public,” Chidambaram said answering queries. The three-member interlocutor’s team had submitted its report to Chidambaram in October last year.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Suriya Saptami 2102 Celebrated

Suriya Saptami was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety at Suriya Bhawan Paloura Top today.

On the occasion a Maha Yagya was also solemnized for the peace and prosperity of mankind and to invoke the blessings of Sun God.

The function was organized by Martand Tirath Trust. A large number of devotees drawn from different parts of Jammu attended the function. A hawan was also performed at Martand Tirath at Mattan in Anantnag district of South Kashmir to celebrate the Suriya Saptami.

The Hawan started yesterday evening and puranahuti was performed this afternoon which was followed by serving of prasad to devotees.

As per the Hindu scriptures the Martand is 13th name of Sun God.

President of the Trust, M K Yogi while speaking highlighted the activities of the Trust.

The function was also attended by Vijay Bakaya, MLC, Rattan Lal Gupta provincial president, NC, H N Jattu and other community leaders.

The general secretary of the Trust, Veer Ji Pandita proposed the vote of thanks.

Abhay Sopori performs at Geeta Satsang Ashram

In connection with the ongoing month long Magh Mass ceremony a Santoor recital by Abhay Rustam Sopori was held at Swami Kumar Ji Geeta Satsangh Ashram, Muthi near here.

A large number of devotees attended the function where Mr Sopori described the importance of music towards cultural and spiritual life of Kashmiri Pandits and urged the youngsters to devote themselves to the art, culture and music and carry forward the cultural values to the next generations.

On the occasion Mr Sopori was felicitated by Swami Kumar Ji. Mr Sopori assured the Ashram people that he will organize such kind of functions every year in the Ashram. The programme among others was attended by PK convener, Dr Agnishekhar. The devotees were served prasad afterwards.

Minister in exam copying scam

CM asks Crime Branch to probe Peerzada denies allegation

Taking cognizance of the media reports about education minister using unfair means to get his son passed in 10th class examination chief minister Omar Abdullah has asked the minister to explain his position and has asked the Crime Branch to probe the matter.

However, education minister, Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed, denying the allegations has welcomed the decision of the CM to get the matter probed. An official handout said that the chief minister Omar Abdullah, taking strong cognizance of the report carried by a local daily, asked the top crime branch officials to probe the case and bring facts to fore. Besides, the handout said, chief minister issued an explanation to the education minister asking him to clear his position with regard to the matter.
“After the chief minister sought an explanation, Peerzada appeared before him and explained his position," sources said. The minister denied the allegations and told the CM that he will welcome the probe into the matter by crime branch of the police or any other investigating agency. 

“The reports were just an attempt to damage my credibility and I will fully cooperate if the matter is probed thoroughly by the crime branch,” sources quoted the minister as having told the CM. Pertinently the minister, a couple of years ago, remained in news for weeks after his name figured in the multi crore scam in education department.

A local English daily had carried the facsimile of an answer sheet in two handwritings -- alleging that part of it had been written by an education official to help his son pass the secondary school exam in 2009. 

It has been alleged that an official of the education department posted on exam duty had written part of the student's Urdu exam paper in order to help him pass the exam.

A complaint lodged by another teacher posted on duty at the centre was received by the authorities of the Jammu and Kashmir board of school examinations, but despite recommendations to withhold the result of the candidate, the authorities went ahead announcing that the candidate had passed the exam.

Farooq to debate Interlocutors report in Parliament

Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah today said that the report of K-panel, which was to be presented before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), should be first deliberated in the Parliament before moving ahead about its implementation.

Talking to media at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan, party headquarter in the winter capital, National Conference (NC) president said, “Finally, it (report) has been part of the people. The report has to be discussed in the Parliament. It should be discussed threadbare so that we know exactly what is their view-how we go about it and work on that." Replying to related queries, Farooq said, “That report is lying with the Union Home Ministry. I think Home Minister was to discuss the report in Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). I do not know what has happened, whether it has been discussed or not. I am not the member of CCS so I have no idea about it. But I will ask my colleague Chidambaram about it."

He was referring to the statement of Union Home Minister made earlier this month. Union Home Minister had said that the report was likely to be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in its meeting in few days.

The interlocutors Dileep Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar had submitted their report on October 12 after visiting the state and taking all shades of opinion. The report suggests a number of administrative and confidence building measures and the Centre has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to look into them and implement as many as possible.

Farooq refused to entertain queries pertaining to incorporation of 73rd constitutional amendment in J&K Panchayati Raj Act, saying, “I’ll not comment on that.”

He, however, said, “We’ll empower Panchs, Sarpanchs, the process is on.”  Regarding demarcation of powers of legislators, he stated that this was the prerogative of Speaker of Legislative Assembly to decide as which powers should be given to legislators.

Beating Retreat Ceremony 2012

The Beating Retreat ceremony at Maulana Azad Stadium, here this evening marked the grand finale of this year’s Republic Day celebrations witnessed by N. N. Vohra, Governor, Usha Vohra, First Lady, and several Ministers.

Ali Mohammad Sagar, Minister for Rural Development, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, R. S. Chib, Minister for Medical Education, Abdul Gani Malik, Minister for Higher Education, Mubarak Gul, Advisor to the Chief Minister and Khem Lata Wakhloo, Chairperson, State Social Welfare Board, senior Civil, Police and Security Forces Officers and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
A scintillating and colorful brass band and pipes and drums show was presented by the Army, BSF and J&K Police on the occasion. The contingents received great applause from the audience.

The items presented in brass band display included Space Flight, Scipio, Sitare Hind, Get Away Lullaby and Belphegor and similarly, in pipes and drums show, the well dressed contingents presented India Gate, Hundred Pipers, Skye Boat Song, Valley Of The Green, Loudon’s Bonnie, Piper O Drummond and Deshon Ka Sartaj, Abide With Me and Drummers Call. The function concluded with a joint item of Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara.

The Governor gave away prizes to various brass band and pipes and drum contingents for their outstanding display on the occasion. He also gave away prizes to the Department of Youth Services and Sports for Bharatiyam, Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Mubarak Mandi, Jammu (Girls) and Government Hari Singh Higher Secondary School, Jammu (Boys), for best march-past, J&K Police Public School, Miransahib, for best band contingent, Government SRML Higher Secondary School, Jammu for best cultural item and the Directorate of School Education, Jammu for best tableaux presented at the State level Republic Day function held at M. A. Stadium.

The spectacular fireworks added colour to the ceremony.
Among others, the function was attended by the political and social activists, prominent citizens and a large number of people.

“Beating Retreat” is a centuries old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. As soon as the bugles sounded “Retreat”, the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield. Drumbeats are a relic of the day when troops, billeted in towns and cities, were recalled to their quarters at an appointed hour in the evening. The combination of these traditions has resulted into the ceremony of “Beating Retreat”. The ceremony now also serves as a grand finale to the Republic Day celebrations.

Taj Vakil battle

Already fraught with the Already fraught with the factionalism of a worst kind, state Congress is witnessing further vertical split on the issue of ongoing stand-off between the Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Taj Mohi-ud-Din and former minister and sitting MLC Abdul Gani Vakil on the issue of corruption, bunglings in PHE department. 
Interestingly the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, though disapproving “bickering in public” between the two senior party leaders, has chosen to stay away from the wordy duel for the time being.
Reason being, he has been `bypassed’ by both the leaders as well as their supporters by not referring the matter to him and seeking the direct intervention of Congress high command and incharge J&K Affairs.

Meanwhile, the two warring factions on behalf of Taj and Vakil are fighting a full fledged war of words through media by issuing signed statements endorsing the stand of either of the two. Those close to PCC president have cautiously restrained from reacting so far, favouring or opposing any warring side so far.

In a day of swift developments on Sunday, the media offices received two separate signed statements issued from warring factions.

In Jammu, a statement was issued in the name of JKPCC general secretary Vinod Sharma wherein a group of Congress leaders comprising former ministers Jugal Kishore Sharma, Suman Bhagat, Chowdhary Garu Ram, Dr Romesh Sharma, Yogesh Sawhney, MLC Haji Ali Mohammed Bhat, general secretary PCC Dr Abdul Ahad Yatu, general secretary Vinod Sharma, Seva Dal state chief Balvinder Singh Sambyal, Youth Congress leader R S Pathania, senior Congress leaders from Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Patel from Pulwama, Ghulam Hassan Shah DCC president  Ganderbal, senior vice president district Kupwara Abdul Rahim Wani, Haji Mohammed Afzal Khan Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Lone Budgam, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din ex Corporator Sumbal, Namrata Sharma corporator, Subhash Bhagat, Jugal Kishore Sharma (INTUC), Navin Nischal (Sevadal) and Irfan Naqeeb “condemned the statement of PHE and Irrigation Minister against voices of corruption.” The joint statement said that he (Taj) in his frustration was issuing baseless statements to hide his failure.

The signatories said, “The Congress party has started a mission to eradicate corruption from the system and Abdul Gani Vakil was trying to carry forward the same mission with zeal and enthusiasm.” They regretted saying, “This is most unfortunate that a group whose, each member is involved in corrupt practices and having various cases pending against them in State Accountability Commission (SAC), different courts or CBI have joined hands to suppress and oppress voices against corruption.”

The Congress, they said, “was for exposing all those who are looting the tax payers’ money and misleading masses for their petty gains.” They said, “Such corrupt, incapable and crook people who are out there issuing fake and bogus statements in connivance with some tainted ministers need to be exposed. Their attempts to curb voices against corruption and corrupt will not be tolerated.”

The statement further said, “The Congress leaders in a meeting sought disciplinary action against PHE and Irrigation Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din for threatening their party colleague Abdul Gani Vakil, who they said had dared to raise the issues of corruption and made an attempt to bring revelations by newspapers into the notice of concerned minister. Vakil, they said, had tried to aware minister incharge of malpractices going on in his department but instead of responding to party colleague’s attempts to stop corruption, Taj preferred to threaten him twice and wash his dirty linen in public.”

The Congress leaders urged the party high command to initiate the disciplinary action against PHE minister immediately as he had gone to the press, threatened of filing a defamation suit instead of explaining his position to the party high command. In the statement, they also urged the high command to sack the minister as “his involvement in corruption land grabbing had damaged and tarnished the image of Congress party.”

Such illegal practices by such tainted ministers, they said, had already caused enough damage to the party and if these things were not plugged there itself they would create further harm to Congress in Jammu and Kashmir state.
The Congress leaders, while extending their full support to Vakil, said that a strong action should be initiated against all those who were misusing power for their personal gains and looting public money. “People like Taj Mohi-ud-Din who are neck deep involved in various alleged corrupt practices and land grabbing should be sacked to save party’s image,” they demanded.

On the other hand, reportedly a joint statement was issued by the district presidents of Kashmir Valley “condemning the irresponsible behavior of Vakil which was harming the party in the state.” According to KNS news agency, the senior Congress leaders including ministers had criticized Vakil for, what they chose to describe “creating nuisance and his profession of blackmail and intimidation.”

As per KNS report, a meeting was held at PHE Minister Taj Mohi-ud-din’s residence.The KNS report further said, “Sources in Congress told KNS that Prof Soz was apprised by party colleagues in a meeting at Institute of Engineers, Gandhinagar Jammu about the Vakil centric developments that have a strong bearing on overall functioning of the Congress in the state.

This, they said, was followed by a joint statement by all the ten district presidents of Kashmir Valley condemning the irresponsible behavior of Vakil which was harming the party in the state. Sources also said that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was apprised by senior Congress leaders and ministers in coalition government about the developments within Congress.

“I wash my hands, favour disciplinary action against Vakil,” sources quoted Azad as having told to the Congress leaders who met him recently.”

The report further added, “Meanwhile, Gulzar Ahmed Wani, Mir Mushtaq Nowshehra, Abdul Gani Khan, Habibullah Bhat, Mohammad Amin Khan Katlori, Zahid Hussain Jan, Abdul Gani Dar, Peer Nazir Ahmed and Innayatullah Rather District Presidents of Congress for Anantnag, Baramullah, Srinagar, Bandipora, Kupwara, Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam have, in a joint statement condemned Vakil for his “irresponsible statements and baseless remarks” against senior party colleagues.”
“Vakil has started a campaign aimed at blackmailing Congress ministers. He is in the habit of asking undue favours from the ministers and if they don’t oblige him, he publicly goes against them and indulges in worst kind of character assassination,” said the joint statement issued by Congress District Presidents of Kashmir Valley, reported KNS.

As per agency report, the Congress leaders demanded immediate action as recommended by a Disciplinary Committee that was constituted by the Congress high command couple of years back.

KNS report said, “Congress high command had constituted a four member Disciplinary Committee comprising Hari Singh, Bashir Ahmad Magray, Amolak Singh and Abdul Majeed Padar in 2010 to look into the complaints against Vakil for his irresponsible behaviour and the Committee had recommended ouster of Vakil from the rank and file of Congress. The joint statements issued by all the district presidents of Kashmir Valley accused Vakil of misusing party name for his personal vested interests.” The statement quoted in the KNS report said, “Vakil has become a source of pain and embarrassment for the party in the Sate, therefore party high command should immediately order his ouster from the party.”

Agency report further said, “Meanwhile, reliable sources told KNS that Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Minister for Education Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed, Minister of State for Cooperatives Dr Manohar Lal, former Minister, G M Saroori , MLAs Abdul Majeed Wani and Haji Nisar Ali, Haji and senior leaders Abdul Rashid Dar, Surrinder Singh Chani, Mir Jahangir and Mazoor Ahmad Ganai have written to AICC member and incharge J&K state Mohan Prakash asking him to stop Vakil from anti party activities which were harming the party in the state.”

“Vakil is in habit of leveling frivolous, malicious and false allegations against the Congress colleagues without any substantive proof which needs to be stopped without any further delay,” the agency report said quoting the joint letter, a copy of which, it claimed, was with it.

Workshop on Right to Informatioin Act held

Dogra Law College, Bari Brahmana today organised a day long workshop on "Right to Information Act 2005": Its Conceptional Dimensions" with special reference to the J&K State.

G R Sofi, Chief Information Commissioner who was the chief guest on the occasion said the Right to Information Act was annexed to provide setting out of the practical regime of Right to Information for the citizens.

He stressed upon the need of the involvement of educational institutions particularly law institutions in creating action oriented awareness and proper consciousness among masses for the applicability and enforcement of Right to Information Act.

The audience comprising students of Dogra Law College, Dogra College of Education, teacher and members of the society also raised queries to G R Sofi.

Prof V K Kapoor, Director/Principal, Dogra Law College in his welcome address expressed concern over the lack of initiative by the concerned agencies in the State to promote timely dissemination of accurate information to the public.

The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion session presided over Prof S K Sharma, Information Commissioner, State Information Commission, Jammu.

The panelists were Prof V P Magotra, Dr Arvind Jasrotia, Sohail Qazmi and Advocate Sheikh Shakeel.

Prof Sham Singh, Dr Kiran Luthra and Vijay Sehgal also participated in the panel discussion session as special guests whereas Monika Kohli worked as moderator.

Dr Arvind Jasrotia, Public Information Officer, University of Jammu apprised the students that drastic changes have been introduced with reference to the re-evaluation process of the Examination of Answer books in order to render fair facility to the aggrieved students.

Prof S K Sharma informed that State Information Commission was dealing with 650 cases.

Earlier, the inaugural session was presided by Maanvi Tikoo, Associate Professor of Dogra Law College while in panel discussion, Rigzin Chandol delivered the welcome address.

Shweta Gupta and Jyoti Majotra presented the vote of thanks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One way traffic restored fully on highway

The Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained open for one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar. The authorities allowed the passenger vehicles to ply on the road almost after a week due to the slippery road conditions.
Officials said that due to slippery road conditions at many places only one-way traffic including the passenger traffic was allowed to move from Jammu to Srinagar while no vehicle was allowed to ply in the opposite direction.
Deputy Inspector General of Traffic, Vijay Kumar said following improvement in the conditions of the road they allowed the full fledged one way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar today. “At least 1900 Srinagar bound vehicles crossed over to this side of the tunnel. Among the 1900 vehicles at least 890 vehicles were passenger vehicles,” DIG said.
He said they have cleared almost all the supply carrying vehicles which were stranded on the other side of the tunnel at many places.
On the movement of the traffic on the road tomorrow DIG said, “We have decided to allow both the heavy and the passenger traffic from Srinagar to Jammu tomorrow but the intending travelers are asked to cross the Qazigund by or before 10 AM.”
To avoid any mishap or traffic jams on the road they will first let the passenger vehicles cross the Qazigund only after which the heavy traffic will be allowed to move.
Reports from Banihal, however, said that amid restrictions for fresh vehilces, one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar was allowed to move on 300 kilometer long National Highway 1A, today while tomorrow there will be down traffic from Srinagar to Jammu in case of fair weather condition.
Official sources said that in the morning hours some Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) and State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses were allowed proceed from Jammu to Srinagar but later at around 11 AM, the no fresh traffic was allowed to move.
The stranded traffic was allowed to move one-way from Jammu to Srinagar. As per official data, 2063 vehicles crossed Jawahar Tunnel till 7 PM. It included 695 trucks, 971 LMVs, 169 Oil Tankers, 16 LPG trucks , 41 gas tankers, 8 SRTC buses, 13 private buses, 60 army vehilces, 55 CRPF and 45 BSF.

Sheikh Mushtaq to be new Secy GAD

The cabinet approved creation of 220 posts both teaching and non-teaching for 11 model colleges under “Establishment of model colleges in educationally backward districts scheme.” Besides, it cleared the name of Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed, Commissioner SMC as new Secretary, General Administration Department.

The cabinet, which met here today under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, also sanctioned two and half day pay and DA in favour of various categories of employees of Hospitality and Protocol department, who are required to perform duties on off days and Sundays on roaster basis.

It also approved the posting of Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmed, Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) as Secretary, General Administration Department upon the superannuation of M S Khan w.e.f. January 31, 2012. Baseer Ahmed Khan, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar will hold additional charge of the post of Commissioner SMC, Srinagar till further orders.

While Bashir Ahmed Runiyal Commissioner/Secretary, Technical Education will hold the additional charge of the post of Commissioner/Secretary Revenue department upon the superannuation of Kachoo Isfandiyar Khan w.e.f. January 31 till further orders.

Fake appointments multi crore scam busted

Police has busted a major recruitment racket involving transactions worth crores of rupees for fictitious appointment orders including computer generated forged approvals of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s office.
In this connection, so far, three persons--Tahir Farooq Sheikh a resident of Munawarabad Barbarshah, Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh son of Habibullah Sheikh a resident of Harinow Budgam and Mohammad Younis Dar son of Ghulam Mohi-u-Din a resident of Bagawanpora Barbarshah have been arrested by police and all of them are lodged at central jail Srinagar.

Sources in police said that a laptop, a desktop and two Santro cars besides around 60 fake appointment orders and their Xerox copies have been seized from the possession of the three accused.

Giving details of the case, reliable sources said that on a tip off received by police station Kralkhud Srinagar, on December 20, last year police swung into action and arrested Younis red handed while copying the fake orders at Barbarshah. The seized orders were screened by police and later forwarded to the respective departments. “The departments later confirmed that these orders are fake and have not been issued by the department heads,” sources in police told said.
Later on December 26, 2011, the police arrested Tahir and Manzoor and two Santro cars were seized from their possession at Barbarshah. Police registered an FIR number 53/2011 into the matter under offences like 420, 467, 471 and 120 B RPC.

Investigations into the matter have revealed that the three accused would dupe people in different villages of Budgam assuring government jobs to the qualified unemployed youth. “The three accused persons have duped over a hundred people including well educated unemployed youth. Manzoor would project Tahir as assistant public relations officer and Younis as Public Relation Officer (PRO) of MLA Habba Kadal Shameema Firdous and collect money ranging from three to four lakh rupees from each person. Younis has reportedly taken active part in her political campaign in 2002 elections,” source privy to police investigation said.

The three accused would purchase and dispose off different cars at Karangar. “They have purchased Santro, Wagon R, Ritz, Ford Fiesta, I 20 and Tata Safari   and later disposed off in Karangar. They would visit the villages like Khan Saheb, Krimshore, Yachigam, Harinow, Chadoora and other villages of Budgam in different cars to impress the gullible targets,” sources disclosed.
However, Shameema Firdous, MLA Habba Kadal when contacted told JK News that she does not know Tahir and Manzoor but Younis would come to her to seek help. “Younis would come here as he belonged to a poor family of my constituency. He would seek help from me but he had nothing to do with my public relations. Nazir Ahmad Bhat is my PRO. Younis has nothing to do with my political campaigning. I heard about the case and inquired about the same form police station Kralkhud,” Firdous added.
Showing fake orders issued by commissioner secretary PDD, PHE, Tourism, CAPD, chief engineer PHE, PDD, PWD, DG Northern Railways, Director General of Police, IGP Kashmir, DC and ADC Srinagar, the three accused would cheat innocent youth of rural areas of Budgam charging money from them on the pretext of providing them jobs.
The three accused would manage computer generated approvals from the chief minister’s office on the recommendations made by various MLAs for police recruitment and other jobs to dupe the youth in Budgam and Srinagar, sources added.
“They (three accused) would use state emblem on the CM’s approvals using their laptop as Tahir is a computer knowing person. And they would also take along the innocent unemployed youth to civil secretariat and other department directorates   where they would handover the fake order and get money from them,” informed sources disclosed.
Through these means, sources said, they (three accused) have collected 1.5 Crore rupees. “And even we have checked the transactions carried out by Younis which shows he had deposited 75 lakh rupees in his account number SB-15711 Air Cargo JK Bank Raj Bagh branch. The money amounting one and half crores has circulated in three accounts of these three accused. They would deposit cheques, cash and TTs.  But the money has been withdrawn using ATMS and other means,” police sources revealed.  
SHO Kralkhud, Aftab Ahmad says that the police is investigating the matter. However, he confirmed that the police has seized fictitious approvals of Chief Minister’s office from the three caused. “We have seized many fictitious orders which include fictitious approvals from the chief minister’s office,” Aftab said.
Asked if the police has found any nexus between the three accused and any senior government officers, the SHO Kralkhud said the police is investigating the matter but so far, no such links have been found.
Meanwhile, Tahir and Manzoor had applied for bail which was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) on Monday. After hectic arguments made by the Chief Prosecuting Officer (CPO) Afaq Ahmad, the CJM Rajeev Gupta has rejected their bail plea.
The CPO Srinagar had submitted that since the police have foolproof evidence against the accused and the investigation being in the initial stage, the bail to the accused would definitely hamper the investigations.
Afaq Ahmad, also prayed that the accused have not only committed an anti social offence but have maligned the image of state government and created a dent in the credibility of the state machinery and the bail at this stage can dilute the case. Later the court rejected the bail plea of the two accused, sources in the court said.
The CPO also informed the court that so far 82 witnesses have recorded their statements before police and the more witnesses are expected to record their versions. Younis has applied for bail today.
The police have sent the seized items including laptop and computer to the Forensic Science Laboratory for chemical analysis.

Zulfikar Ahmad, SP West, when contacted told JK News, that investigations was on and he was scheduled to convene a meeting in this regard in the evening. “We have arrested few people and the police is ascertaining the facts,” he added.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Release ration cards of genuine families

Coming to the support of its president, Jagti Tenement Committee (JTC) today demanded that the ration cards of five families including that of Shadi Lal Pandita be released immediately.

The eight ration cards are under eight different names and Shadi Lal was unnecessarily made a scapegoat, JTC chairman B L Raina and its vice president, Vijay Koul told reporters here today.

They said that the president of the organization who raised his voice against power crisis in Jagti township, opposed the imposition of power tariff on its inmates and highlighted the other basic demands was made a target.

"Out of eight cards four exist on the name of Sarvanand Pandita, Mittan Jee, Rakesh Pandita and Sumit Pandita while one is on the name of Shadi Lal, said Raina. All these are genuine families and the Relief Organization should release these cards as the families are facing hardships for last seven months’’, he added.

He said the withholding of ration and relief for such a long period is a human rights violation also as the families are at the verge of starvation.

Raina said Shadi Lal is a social worker who always worked for the migrants’ cause and protested for solution of their genuine problems. It is because of these acts that the Relief Organization have implicated him, he added.

Terming the reports that Mr Lal has eight ration cards totally baseless, he said there is no authentic proof of that as the poor fellow has only one ration card registered at Nagrota Camp where he was previously putting up.

Moreover if the person had eight ration cards why the Department remained calm during all these 20 long years he asked. Moreover why relief was paid to fake ration cards till date and why the D Forms of fake cards were accepted by the Department, he added.

Let the authorities make a thorough probe into the matter and the JTC has full faith in the investigation of Crime Branch and it welcomes the step of Releif organization in referring matter to it. He also announced that JTC will continue to fight for the demands of Jagti camp inmates.

JKGB organises awareness programme

The J&K Grameen Bank (JKGB) today organised an awareness programme on Financial Inclusion at village Tarah in Dansal block here.

M K Vij, General Manager of JKGB was the chief guest who impressed upon the public to come forward to open the no frill accounts and also emphasised on various benefits by availing credit schemes of the bank to the public.

Vikram, Manager from Reserve Bank of India highlighted the role of RBI in facilitating the process of Financial Inclusion programme.

Virender Kotwal, Area Manager of JKGB informed the gathering that the bank has tied up with Bajaj Allianz and Metlife for life insurance besides devising the products which are being easily affordable to rural masses.

R P Sharma, Senior Manager, MF&FI of JKGB apprised the gathering about the various lending schemes of the bank.

Sanction letters of loan cases in the diversified activities amounting to ` 80 lakh were also disbursed on spot.

H L Kar, Branch Manager, Jhajjar Kotli, presented the vote of thanks.

The camp was organised with the support and financial assistance of NABARD.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beeta Lautata Hai awarded

“Beeta Lautata Hai”- a collection of poems by the renowned Hindi, poet, columnist and translator Manoj Sharma, has been selected by the Ministry of Human Resources Development for its award constituted for Hindi writers. 

Encompassing varied fascinating facets of Jammu, its culture, life, this collection of poems was chosen for this prestigious award by the high level selection committee of the Ministry under a special scheme of Central Hindi Directorate for propagation of literature and encouragement of Hindi litterateurs.

Manoj will receive an award of Rs one lakh from the President of India.Hailing from Gurdaspur, Punjab, the writer has been active in the Hindi literary field of the state and has remained associated with Hindi Sahitya Mandal. His first collection of Hindi poems "Yathaarth Kay Ghere Mein" sponsored by J&K Academy of Art, Cultural and Languages (JKAACL) was released by the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Jagmohan in 1988. He continued his literary pursuits and his second poetic collection “Yakeen Mano Mein Aaunga’ was released by the Padma Shree awardee and noted Hindi-Dogri litterateur late Prof Ram Nath Shastri in 1997.

His award winning poetic venture “Beeta Lautata Hai” was released in Mumbai by renowned Urdu litterateur, Hindi film director Sagar Sarhadi.Manoj has been writing on issues concern humanity and society and it’s his unending quest to find answers to conundrums of life in his inimitable manner which fascinates his readers as well as critics. His well appreciated literary column ‘Filhaal’ published in ‘Dainik Kashmir Times”, is very popular among the lovers of Hindi literature, critics and has always evoked great response among the readers. He also remained associated with ‘Sanskriti Manch Jammu’ for quite long and as its founder member contributed in many ways to this literary organization. He has been actively associated with radio, Doordarshan and theatre activities.

Besides being a determined, committed writer, Manoj displays his creativity with a splash of innovation in poster making, editing leaflets on Hindi literature and its legendary litterateurs.  His works on Bhagat Singh, Paash, Palestinian writer Mehmood Darvesh and Faiz Ahmad Faiz have been highly appreciated.In his own words, “Beeta Lautata Hai” was weaved with  the culture, various nuggets of  life in Jammu and its people in the backdrop, therefore this award winning collection is in a sense- a recognition of ‘Duggar Pradesh’ which served as an inspiration for him and offered him cherishing moments.  Many literary figures and organizations including Yuva Hindi Lekhak Sangh have congratulated him on receiving this award.  

Netajis birth anniversary celebrated in jammu kashmir

Rich tributes were paid to the great freedom fighter of India, Netaji Subhash Chander Bose by many political and social organizations besides educational institutions across the J&K State.

J&K Freedom Fighters Association, on 115th birth anniversary of Netaji held a function at Town Hall (JMC) Park here today. It was chaired by the president of the Association, Ved Gandotra. SP Headquarters Jammu, Surinder Singh, was the chief guest. Several freedom fighters participated in the function and paid tributes to the Netaji. While recalling the contributions of the great freedom fighter, Mr Singh said that Netaji was born in a Bengali family on January 23, 1897 in Cuttak, Orrisa. He was an Indian revolutionary who led an Indian national political and military force, against the British and the West during World War-II. Bose was one of the most prominent leaders in the Indian Independence movement and is a legendary figure in the country today. He is presumed to have died in an air crash on August 18, 1945.

Mr Gandotra said that Netaji was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s views. He joined the Indian National Congress in 1939 and then resigned from Congress after some differences with Mahatma Gandhi. Taking strong decision he brought a resolution asking Britishers to hand India over to Indian within six months. In 1943, Netaji formed Azad Hind Fouj (Indian National Army). The Army comprised mainly of Indian who were prisoners of war.

Prominent among others present on the occasion included Jagdish Sudan, Ram Rattan Raina, Rajinder Bhagat, Sunita Sharma, Narinder Baba, Rajinder Singh, Tej Ram, Ch Akhtar Hussain and Veena Rathore.

Pradesh Congress Committee members in a function held at party headquarters here also paid floral tributes to Netaji Subash Chander Bose. The function was organized by DCC Jammu in which several members of the Pradesh, District and Block committees participated. Senior vice president of the PCC Dharam Pal Sharma (Ex-MP) presided over. The speakers recalled the contributions of Netaji and described him an outstanding leader of the Indian freedom movement and a revolutionary par excellence. They lauded the efforts and courage of Netaji, who raised Indian National Army to face the mighty Britishers.

Prominent among others present included DCC president Om Chopra ( Ex-MLA), D S Langeh, Kirtan Singh, Kulbhushan Sharma, Inder Sehgal, S R Sudhir, Gurdarshan Singh, Madan Lal Malagar, V K Sethi, S S Shingari, Hussain Bakash and Saleem Khan.

J&K State Committee of All Indian Forward Bloc celebrated birthday of Netaji at Maheshpura Chowk here. The party members including State chief Dr A K Kharu garlanded the statue of Netaji and paid rich tributes to the great freedom fighter. Dr Kharu demanded that Netaji birthday (January 23) be declared as "Desh Prem Divas’’.

Dr Kharu said that All India Forward Bloc, party founded by Netaji 73 years ago has been demanding that Justice Mukherjee Commission report should be made public. Bhagwan Singh, B L Chanda, Rajan Padri, Chhaju Ram, Vikram and Harbhajan Singh were also present.

Netaji Subhash Chander Bose Volunteer Association also paid tributes to the great freedom fighter in a simple function held at Maheshpura Chowk. Chander Mohan Sharma, president of the organization and other members including Vinod Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Vijay Singh Pathania hoisted national flag and paid floral tributes to Netaji. Children and staff of Shishu Bharti School also participated.

NSS Unit of GGM Science College, Jammu celebrated birth anniversary of Netaji. The Principal of the College Dr Satinder Paul Singh along with other Professors and students assembled in the college Ground and paid tributes to Subhash Chander Bose. A two-minute silence was observed. Dr Singh recalled the contributions of Netaji and said that youth should follow the principles of Netaji.

Netaji Academy Vijaypur also celebrated birthday of Subhash Chnader Bose. Dr M S Baloria, secretary J&K Board of School Education was the chief guest while Dr R K Vaid from Deptt of Electronics, University of Jammu was the guest of honour.

After flag hoisting, the students in their short speeches conveyed Netaji’s message of patriotism and sacrifice and pledged to follow his mission in life. A cultural programme was also organized. A L Gupta, Director of the institute and Principal, Vivek Gupta also spoke on the occasion and distributed prizes among the meritorious students.

Meanwhile, Arya Kanya Vidyalya (High School) Purani Mandi in a function held today paid tributes to the great freedom fighter and recalled his contributions for the country. Principal, Madan Lal addressed the students and asked them to follow Netaji’s principles in life. 

Murti asthapana of Baba Kaliveer Ji on Jan 28

The Murti sthapana (installation of idol) of Kul Devta Baba Kaliveer Ji will be performed at Smriti Bhawan, Ram Mandir, Gurah Bakshi Nagar on January 28.

Gouri Ganesh Poojan would be held on January 26 at 9 am; Hawan Poojan on January 27 at 9 am, Murti sthapana on January 28 at 9 am and Puranahuti on January 29 at 11 am followed by Bhandara.

Devotees of Baba Kaliveer Ji Maharaj have been asked to participate alongwith family members to get blessings of Baba Ji.

NCM writes to govt

In a bid to safeguard interests of pandits and other minorities in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has written to the government to amend the NCM Act to make it applicable to the trouble-torn state as well.

The Commission, which has been taking up the issue with the state administration for a long time, has also written to the state Law Minister, Ali Mohammed Sagar, in this regard.

Copies of the letter have also been submitted to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

"The Commission recommends that J&K consider extension of NCM Act-1992 to the state by making a recommendation to President that an amendment may be made to the Act to make it applicable to the state and by considering enactment of a law for promulgation of J&K Minorities Act along the lines of the model Act developed by this Commission and circulated to all states," the letter said.

The panel also expressed happiness over the state government's contention that it was "not averse" to the benevolent recommendations of the NCM.

NCM chairperson Wajahat Habibullah said the commission wants that minorities in J&K get benefits available to minorities elsewhere and has been regularly interacting with the state government in this regard.

The state government earlier contended that complexity in declaring any group a minority arises from the existence of a peculiar, region-wise and community-wise composition in the state, where no community is in minority in all the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Leh.

Habibullah, however, felt that the seeming complexity can be resolved through a dynamic combination of the NCM Act 1992.

The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 that extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, empowers the panel to look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights of the minorities and take up such matters with appropriate authorities at the Centre or in the states. It also allows it to make recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards for protection of the interests of minorities by the Central government or state governments.
Currently, only 16 states have minority commissions, and hence it is virtually the NCM which handles such issues there. The NCM has already prepared a model law for setting up minority commissions by the states. In the letter to the Jammu and Kashmir government, the NCM had noted, "because of the territorial limitations of the Act, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has the largest percentage of national minorities' population in the country is outside the purview of the Act.

"This denial of the provisions of the NCM Act 1992 to large number of citizens, who belong to the minority communties...has been engaging the attention of the Commission and has, indeed, been a cause for concern." After the Commission had sent a proposal to the state government regarding setting up of a state minority commission in August last year, Habibullah also personally discussed the issue with the state Chief Minister and Law Minister.

In its reply to the NCM, the state government informed that the state had constituted a minority commission in February 1984, which did not submit any report and it was finally wound up a few months later.

While pointing out the complexity in declaring any group as minority in the state, the Secretary of the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of Jammu and Kashmir at the same time said that the state government was "not averse to the benevolent recommendations of the NCM".

weather forecast dominates life in Kashmir

Not any political development, but the weather forecast is dominating the life of valleyites this winter.

For the three consecutive summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010 which saw mass protests in the valley, protest calendars dictated the life of people. The calendars would announce the days for observance of strikes, protest and normal working days. People would plan their work, visit to relatives or shopping according to the calendar. The days of strikes, listed in the calendar, would mean no work or business while normal days were abuzz with activities of life. On normal days people would finish all their important works besides stocking their kitchens with essential items.

Protest calendars hogged the media headlines for months together. People would wait curiously for the issuance of calendar so that they could plan their activities.

Even as the summer of 2011 passed calmly without calendars, it is the weather forecast which is dictates the life in Kashmir now. Since the onset of chillai kalaan which is believed to be the coldest part of winter, people have been strictly following the weather forecast on newspapers, television channels and internet.

The interest in weather forecast grew with the recent snowfall experienced in the valley on January 4. The severe cold conditions and heavy snowfall restricted people within their house hold for days. The snapped electricity, communication, dearth of essential commodities and shortage of water resulting for severe cold conditions added misery to peoples’ lives. People are punctually following the weather forecast before planning their travel or other important activities. Weather forecast has become lead news in media.

“It is a strange scenario in Kashmir. During summers, we have to plan life as per protest calendar and now in winter we have to follow weather forecast,” said Mohammad Latief, a shopkeeper

Latief has been regularly following the weather forecast to keep himself update about the forthcoming ‘problems’.

“Snowfall comes with huge problems here. So we have to stay informed,” he adds.

As winter has yet to end, people are strictly following the weather forecast. The status of Jammu Srinagar national high way is of equal interest to people.

“I ensure to check weather forecast everyday. If there is a forecast for snow, I keep stock of essentials so that we do not face any problem,” says Nayeem Ahmad, a businessman.

“When we are pre-informed about snowfall, we are able to prepare for problems,” adds Nayeem.

Top Ghazal singers to perform in Jammu

It will be a treat for Jammuites to watch two celebrated Ghazal singers from India performing live here tomorrow.

The function is being organised by Radio Kashmir Jammu as a part of the Republic Day celebrations.

The renowned singers, known for their soothing voice quality are Dr Roshan Bharati from Kota Rajasthan and Sakhawat Husain Khan from Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.

A gold medalist in post graduation from the University of Rajasthan, Dr. Bharati has to his credit a doctoral thesis on Begum Akhter's 'life and works'. Sakhawat Husain Khan is a known figure to Jammu audience as he has many a time performed here to the amusement of Ghazal singers.

According to Ravi Magotra, Programme Head, Radio Kashmir Jammu, the element of classical music is vividly visible in Sakhawat's style of singing. Magotra said the venue for the 'Sham-e-Ghazal' will be the auditorium of Government College for Women Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, where the function will start at 5 pm tomorrow.

Jammu Srinagar highway open for one way traffic

The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was thrown open for one-way traffic from winter to summer capital today. However, the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh National Highway remained closed while hundreds of villages, including those near the Line of Control (LoC) also remained cut off from their respective district and tehsil headquarters.

A traffic police official said here today that all the vehicles, particularly trucks, loaded with essentials, stranded between Banihal, Batote, Udhampur and Jammu, were allowed to move towards the Valley this morning.

He said only State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses, carrying passengers were also allowed from Jammu to Srinagar.

No light passenger or private vehicle was allowed as a precautionary measure.

Similarly no vehicle from Srinagar to Jammu was allowed today.

Official sources said most of the stranded vehicles, particularly trucks loaded with fruit and empty oil tankers at Qazigund and other places in south Kashmir were cleared yesterday.

Similarly, SRTC buses were allowed to ply on the highway from here to Jammu yesterday for stranded passengers.

However, hundreds of passengers, including non-state subjects, remained stranded here because of non availability of sufficient SRTC buses.

The Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained open for the one way traffic from Srinagar to Jammu today. However, only heavy vehicles were allowed to ply on the road.

Officials said that the traffic was allowed to move on the road only from Srinagar to Jammu and no vehicle was allowed to move in the opposite direction. “Due to slippery conditions of the road we allowed only one way traffic to ply on the highway. At least 2000 vehicles including 80 SRTC buses were allowed to move towards Jammu. 95 percent of the stranded trucks on this side of the tunnel were cleared today,” said Inspector General of Traffic, Hemant Kumar Lohia.

He said that tomorrow the road will remain open for only the stranded Srinagar bound stranded vehicles and the SRTC buses. “Still there are hundreds of supply trucks at halt on the other side of the road and we will try to clear them all tomorrow. Besides the SRTC buses will be allowed to move from Jammu to Srinagar,” IG said. About the movement of the light passenger vehicles on the road, the IG said, “The road is still slippery at many places and it will not be advisable to allow light vehicles to ply from either side. People can undertake the journey to Srinagar or Jammu in SRTC buses.” He also said that an SRTC bus towards Jammu will also be operated from Anantnag for the convenience of the people of south Kashmir.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow leopard in Banihal

Heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of Banihal led to man animal conflict in which four persons, including three brothers, were injured. A snow leopard attacked them in Ramban district today.

The snow leopard trekked down from the hilly area into village Wanpora in Banihal and mauled four people near their houses this morning.

The villagers rushed to the spot, beat up the wild animal before capturing it and handed it over to the wildlife department.The injured identified as Ghulam Mohammad, 65, Mohammad Yousaf, 50, Mohammad Aslam, 40, sons of Abdul Aziz of Wanpora Karawa and Riyees Ahmed, 30, son of Ghulam Rasool of Zanihal were shifted to hospital.

After a few hours, the leopard died in a veterinary hospital here, wildlife department sources said.Police handout claimed that one leopard has attacked in the residential house of Ghulam Mohammad son of Abdul Aziz of Wanpora, Banihal. Getting information of the leopard attack, cops of Police Station Banihal reached on the spot and shifted the injured persons to Emergency Hospital Banihal.Later on, Wild Life Department captured the injured leopard and shifted the same to Veterinary Hospital Banihal for medical treatment, handout maintained. 

Attention intending Hajj pilgrims

According to the Executive Officer, J&K State Hajj Committee, Srinagar all those intending pilgrims who have been applying for the Hajj pilgrimage for the year 2009, 2010 and 2011 continuously but could not figure in the selection list are hereby informed to register their claims alongwith necessary documents in the office of the J&K State Hajj Committee, Baitu-ul-Hujaj (Hajj House), Bemina with effect from January 23, 2012 to February 05, 2012.

However, the intending pilgrims from Jammu Division, Leh and Kargil districts can submit their claims through respective Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Another spell of snowfall likely in Kashmir

Kashmir Valley is expected to witness another spell of snowfall after Sunday afternoon owing to the western disturbances and the temperature may fall again.According to the Met department another system of western disturbances is building and it may start to effect from Sunday afternoon for nearly two days.“We have system building up, which is likely to cause light to moderate snowfall from January 22. Its effect will remain for January 23,” the director Meteorology, Sonum Lotus, told Jk news.

Kashmir has been witnessing harsh winter after a long time. The intermittent heavy snowfall has been affecting the normal life since January 7 while the temperature has also fallen unexpectedly to minus 7.8 degree Celsius after 16 years.
While the snow, snapping all road and air links, left the valley cut-off from the outside world, the people have been facing the worse due to shortage of essential supplies.According to Lotus, the day temperatures are likely to fall again in the coming days.“When the system starts taking effect, the day temperature may fall and the nights may also get colder,” he said.
Meanwhile, much to the relief of the people, the day temperature today was around 5.2 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature of the night was minus 3.5 degree Celsius.

“We are seeing pleasant sunshine after a long time. Even yesterday started with a moderate snowfall in the summer capital. Hope it stays like this for sometime now,” hoped middle Nasir Ahmad of Lal Chowk.With the halt in precipitation, people have begun to move around. The traffic movement on the roads has also improved.

The major relief has, however, come to the vendors who were not able to set stalls during snow.“I did no business for almost a week because it was impossible to move out in that heavy snow,” Shakir, a teenage vendor selling used warm clothes shared, “Now as the snow has stopped I have also started to move out. The snow gave me a tough time.”

The air links to the valley have also been restored completely.According to officials at the Srinagar international airport, flights have been operating on time.“With improvement in weather, the flight operations have normalised. Thousands of passengers fly from here everyday,” the officials said. 

Gojri folk music Festival

In a bid to expose the younger generation of Gujjar community to their rich folk musical heritage, a State level folk music bonanza was organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages at the auditorium of Gujjar Desh Trust for Cultural Heritage, here today.

Today’s program specially aimed for the city based Gujjar children, who are fast moving away from their tribal mooring in the light of present day flux of change and globalization, showcased rich treasure of folk songs that were rendered by leading groups and individuals draw from the divisions of Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at the occasion, Impressed by the scintillating performance of folk artistes and the hearty response by the Gujjar children, the chief guest of the function Choudhary Bashir Ahmed Naz, Vice Chairman J&K Sate Advisory Board for Development of Gujjar and Bakerwal, said that Board will support holding of such festivals in all districts of the State. He also suggested holding of mega folk musical concerts in capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu. He said Board would also give financial assistance to organizations like Cultural Academy or others to make feature films in Gojari language. Earlier, Dr Javaid Rahi, HoD, Gojri Section of State Cultural Academy, in his welcome address said that the purpose of holding such festival was to reach out to the new generation of the community and introduce the rich cultural heritage of Gujjars.He said it was first of its kind effort of the Cultural Academy to collaborate with NGOs like Gujjar Desh Trust which is working for the promotion and development of Gujjar culture and heritage.

He said Academy’s emphasis is upon audio-visual documentation of folk artistic treasure so as to preserve the heritage that stands threatened by the challenges of globalization and satellite channels.

About 50 artistes from different parts of the State performed on the occasion. Prominent among them included Bashir Mastana, Begum Jan and party, Razia Begum and party, Tasleema Choudhary and party, Rukhsana Choudhary and group, Gulam Mohammad Dansalia and party. Shameema Akhtar Janbaaz, Additional Secretary, Cultural Academy presented the vote of thanks. 

Demonstration held at Samba against Raj Daluja

Students, scholars of Languages Department of University of Jammu, today demanded action against State Times owner, Raj Daluja for allegedly misusing the press against the integrity of varsity.

They held a protest demonstration against Raj Daluja for allegedly running liquor shops without NOC and grabbing land at various places in and around the city areas, besides his involvement in the fake Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) which, he got by tampering the revenue records.

Copies of State Times were also burnt. Speaking on the occasion, senior Research Scholar, Ajaz Shah said that the newspaper was misusing the power of press. He further said the students would never tolerate mud slinging against student leaders and professors.

"If Government fails to take any timely action against the offender, we would be forced to come on roads", he added.

"It is a sheer violation of media laws and Daluja should never undermine the power of students and an institution like university", he maintained.

He added "they have written enough scrap about our professors like Prof Shohab Inayat Malik, HoD Urdu Department and other professors which could never be tolerated at any cost".

Another Research Scholar Mushtaq alleged that by spitting venom against the eminent student leaders including Varinder Chib and Vikas Sharma, State Times was attacking the integrity of JU.

Sunil Kumar asked the District Magistrate to order custody of State Times Printing Press and Publication House as the same is running on the fake State Subject which Raj Daluja has obtained by tampering the documents.

He added that Raj Daluja was using the name of State Times newspaper only to shield his assets which he made through illegal means.

"Daluja is running illegal liquor shops, bars and restaurant but none from the side of Government dares to touch him", he added.

Suresh Kumar, Uday Singh, Tariq Ahmed, Riyaz Ahmad, Mushtaq, Vakil Singh, Ashiq Choudhary, Nazrat Hussain, Khaleel Ahmad, Rajesh Kumar, Jagmohan Singh, Abhimanyu and Zaheer Ahmad were also present.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Jammu Kashmir Uthaan Manch (JKUM) was also held in Samba regarding the defaming of JU's Vice-Chancellor office, university professors and NSF president.

Secretary JKUM, Rahul Dev said State Times was personally hitting the student leaders, chancellor's office and professors.

He also criticized the Government for its failure in not taking action against the owner of newspaper, Raj Daluja and demanded a thorough probe into the matter.

He added that Raj Daluja was playing with the future of nation by opening liquor shops near colleges and university.

JKUM demanded strict action against Raj Daluja and warned that the cadre will launch full fledge agitation against State Government for ignoring the violations of Article 370 by Raj Daluja and his family.

They further said Raj Daluja must be arrested and thrown behind the bars at the earliest.

AI operating addl flight to Leh

According to the Station Manager, Air India (AI) Jammu, Sanjiv Misri, the Air India is operating additional flight from Jammu to Leh on January 21, 2012.

The departure time of additional flight AI-4450 will be at 0945 hours. All stranded passengers of cancelled flight AI-450 on January 20, 2012 have been requested to reach the airport by 8 am sharp.

PoK refugees organize protest rally

The refugees of 1947, 1965 and 1971 from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) areas today organized a large protest rally against the Government at Mubarak Mandi here today.

A large number of displaced families from Mirpur, Bhimber, Deva, Batala, Manawar, Poonch, Kotli, Bagh and Muzaffrabad assembled under the banner of PoK Refugees Front (1947, 65,71) at Mubarak Mandi complex here today and held a strong protest demonstration.

Under the leadership of Front president Capt Yudhvir Singh and general secretary Rashpal Singh Chib, these refugees including men and women, carrying banners and placards in their hands were shouting slogans against the Government. They criticized the Government for ignoring them for the last many decades.

The Front leaders also addressed the gathering and flayed Government of its anti-refugee stance. Mr Chib in his address demanded that the left over refugee families of 1947 and 1971 be registered and justice be provided to them. He also demanded ownership rights of properties (houses/ land) be given to the refugees as they are facing lot of hardships. The refugees placed in the border areas of Jammu region are unable to get rent and other claims from security forces/ army etc. as they do not have the ownership rights of the land being used by the forces. These families are facing lot of hardships.

Mr Chib pointed out that during 2000, the Centre had sanctioned ` 5 crore in favour of refugees. Out of this money, funds to the tune of ` 4 crore were disbursed. The remaining money should also be disbursed among the refugees. He urged the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Revenue and Relief Minister Raman Bhalla to provide justice to the refugees. After staging daylong protest dharna, the refugees dispersed peacefully at around 3.30 pm.

Govt seeks IAF aircrafts to rescue stranded people

The State Government has requested Indian Air Force (IAF) for aircrafts to rescue stranded people between Srinagar and Jammu, which remained cut off from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall.

Heavy snowfall has blocked Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only road link with outside world.

The vital highway has been closed for passenger traffic since the last one week after it was severely affected due to landslides and snowfall.

“The government is making special arrangements for IAF aircraft for airlifting stranded passengers between Srinagar and Jammu, subject to availability of aircraft,” an official said. 

Altaf tours Kangan Constituency

Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, Mian Altaf Ahmad today concluded his two day visit to Kangan Assembly Constituency and took stock of the essential commodities, road clearance, medical facilities, supply of power and drinking water, besides other amenities being provided to the people in the area.

The Minister interacted with people at Manigam, Gund, Ganwan, Khanan, Aari Goripora and Gagangeer and enquired about availability of rice, sugar, kerosene oil, LPG, snow clearance and restoration of traffic, medical facilities, power and water supply.

The people expressed satisfaction over the performance of administration at every place, however, at Ganwan, the Minister directed for immediate supply of LPG, following the demand by the inhabitants of the village.

Mian Altaf visited Primary Health Centres at Manigam and Gund and checked the attendance of the employees. He directed Hospital administration to ensure presence of doctors and availability of ambulance during the night.

The Minister directed the Power Development department to ensure immediate repair of power transmission lines and transformers. He was told that damaged transformers in Gund Masun and Kirhama have already been replaced.

Later, the Minister interacted with the media persons in Gagangeer and appreciated district administration for their efforts to combat the post snowfall situation in the district. He directed the PDD to ensure that power curtailment programme is equitably being implemented in towns, villages and city. He warned that any laxity on this count will be dealt with severally.

Earlier, District Development Commissioner Ganderbal informed the Minister about stock and supply position of essentials in details.

The Minister was accompanied by S.P. Ganderbal, Shahid M. Rather, Superintending Engineer PDD, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Superintending Engineer R&B, Pinto, Divisional Forest Officer Ganderbal, Assistant Director CAPD and other senior officers.

Embezzlement in NREGA projects

Falsifying the much hyped claims of the government that Centrally sponsored schemes are properly implemented there has been reports of huge embezzlement in projects undertaken by National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and Total Sanitary Campaign (TSC) in Bandipora district of north Kashmir.

The embezzlement came to the fore after Deputy Commissioner (DC) Bandipora ordered an inquiry. The inquiry was ordered by DC after he received bulk of complaints from the residents of the district. The inquiry was ordered vide order number  ADF/Bpr/11/E-R/835 Dated 25-11-2011 by DC Bandipora and the inquiry has been completed.

The inquiry report reveals violation of norms in utilisation of schemes. The funds meant for rural development to handle the NREGA operations in various Panchayat blocks of Bandipora including Mantrgam, Pazalpora, Kralpora and Chandaji have been withdrawn in lakhs without proper work done by the concerned officers. Even the funds, the reports adds, meant for paying dues to NERGA labourers have not been paid despite passage of several months.

The inquiry report has brought Block Development Officers (BDOs) and Village Level Workers (VLW) of these blocks under the scanner for violating the norms. The inquiry team was headed by assistant director fisheries. After completing the inquiry, he submitted the report to DC.

The report mentions that most of the works executed under such schemes during the year 2010-2011 are only in papers while the funds have been withdrawn from the government exchequer. It reveals that there is embezzlement worth lakhs in 11 works in Kralpora, Chandaji, Chek, Pazzalpora, Mantrigam, Sheikhpora and Brarpora under NREGA scheme.

Report further reveals that the construction of Khol (Nallah)  with footpath and retaining wall from house of Ahad Mir to Chek Kralpora is only on papers while an amount of Rs 6 lakhs have been withdrawn after shown expended.

Same is the case with the construction of road with retaining wall from Ismail Najar towards Pazalpora Kralpora, an amount of 1.90 lakhs has been withdrawn. Further the construction of link road from Wahab Malik towards Aziz Sheikh at the cost of Rs 2 lakhs  has shown no progress after being taken over by NERGA. Report mentions that about 11 construction works are only limited to papers while the funds have been withdrawn against the construction.

In four villages of district Kralpora,Pazalpora,Mantrigam and Shiekhpora, the report reveals hundreds of villagers have been shown as labourers while the names on muster sheets are different. Even  the payment has been made to the labourers who have not received a penny besides working in the executed works.

Report further reveals that the hundreds of labourers have not been provided the job cards while most of the labourers engaged for the execution of developmental works have not been paid.

The information reveals that 98 percent of laborers worked for the Chandaji road construction has not been enlisted in muster rolls instead others have been enlisted who have not worked under the programme. Even persons close to officials from other areas have been shown as laboures, flouting the standing rule of NERGA that labourers are to be engaged within five kilometers radius.

The report further reveals that the Rs 4.56 lakh has been embezzled among expended 6 lakhs, it says that only 1.43 lakhs have been entered in the muster sheets among the 6.00 lakhs shown as expended.

The report also revealed that there is huge misappropriation of funds while implementing the TSC scheme in Mantrigam and Kralpora villages, it says that the in gross violation of rules several members of a single family have been benefited instead of benefiting one member from a single family.

Interestingly, a female Panch Mugli Begum has managed to get three latrines one for herself, One for her husband Muhammad Maqool and one for her daughter Shahnaza Bano, figuring respectively at serial number 97,224 and 228.

Similarly Kralpora village head Ghulam Mahi-ud-Din Tantray has managed to get three latrines, one  for himself, one for his wife Rafiqa and one for his son Ashiq Hussain, figuring at serial number 132,173 and 249.

Confirming that he has ordered an inquiry and received the inquiry report  deputy commissioner (DC) Bandipora Manzoor Ahmad Lone said some employees have been charge sheeted after the inquiry report was submitted. “Let the employees reply. We will act further against them people after we examine their replies,”   DC said.