Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has a new leadership. In elections held early this month, it was the senior vice president Abdul Hamid Punjabi who was elected as the new president.

His team includes Nazir Ahmed Wani (Sr VP), Mushtaq Ahmed Wani (Jr VP), Bilal Ahmad Kawoosa (Secretary General) MauzamBakshi (Jt Secretary General) and Chaudhary Mohammad Shahid (Treasurer).

It was a highly contested election in which 600 of the 700 voters exercised their right of franchise. For the first time, there were 40 candidates in the fray for 19 positions in the executive. The new regime is expected to continue the systems and policies in place because no one from opposition could get in. Those who had challenged the regime has extended support in making the chamber a better representative and responsive organization.

Derailed, Just ONCE
The Kashmir train that famously chugged more than 20 kms without a driver one summer night this year met with its first derailment in three years of its operations on Wednesday. More than 25 commuters were injured. The train had left Qazigundat 11 am and derailed within 15 minutes at Sadoora. Its engines and two coaches had skidded off the track. Both coaches were full of passengers.

The passengers were immediately shifted to the hospital. Most passengers with minor injuries were given first aid locally, but one of theseriously injured was shifted to Srinagar. While police and railway authoritiesare investigating the case, prima facie there is no sabotage. It seems to be a case of break fail. The driver of the engine has survived with multiple fractures.

 So far, two people were crushed by the rail on tracks in last three years. But this was the first derailment of the train or record. Rail connects Qazigund and Baramulla in south and north Kashmir and within the next year, it will be extended to Banihal as the longest tunnel of the track was completed last month.The Rs 19500 crores 273 km Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla project is expected to be fully operational by 2017. Next summer, Qazigund will get connected with Banihal and the 25-kms Udhampur-Katra section will most likely become operational. This will leave the most difficult 120-kms stretch between Katra and Banihal to get full attention.

Nago Toll SURGES
Last week, the government placed under suspension, two police officers – SSP (Vigilance) BasantRath and Kulgam SP MubassirLatifee – on basis of an interrogation that was leaked to Youtube. During interrogating, they had sought details of any transactions that the accused Nagar Singh might have made to a number of politicians including Shard Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, MP Madam Lal Sharma and many others.

An order issued after the cabinet meeting said the duo would remain attached to the police headquarters pending enquiry.  Accused of using “foul and derogatory language” against some politicians, they were part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that investigated the case. While the two were punished, the SIT head was not touched, apparently because he was not in the video.

The case is one of the most interesting police investigations in Jammu over the years. It involves an erstwhile truck driver Nagar Singh who became a don and later one of the major businessmen of the temple city.It all started with the assassination of a politician’s son Amandeep in a gang war on August 29, 2009. As the police started investigations, they nabbed Jitneder Singh, the killer who was son of Nagar Singh alias Nago. In order to save his son, don Nago spent a lot of money and managed to change the weapon that was used to kill Amandeep. A hue and cry led to special investigations that led to the arrest of SSP Manohar Singh in October 2009. Others arrested with him included an inspector, a sub inspector ands two officials from FSL.

It was after a long chase that Nago was arrested. Though he was in jail, he was accused of trying to kill witnesses using supari killers, some of whom were also arrested by the police. As the police started investigating this aspect, it revealed another controversy involving jail officials. One of the senior jail superintendents was also arrested in the case.

It was during these investigations that SIT recorded one of the sessions that was leaked and pasted, initially on Facebook and later on Youtube. The session includes the officers seeking details of Nago’s financial transactions with some of the politicians – almost all from Congress. Post haste, the police announced a probe into the leak. The video, incidentally offers interesting insights into some of the newspaper leaders in the region – one is neck-deep in Hawala transactions, another is a favorite for bookies and a third one is involved in land grabbing.

The decision of placing police officers under suspension came within days after the Jammu’s high court lawyers association decided to seek action against cop the derogatory comments against the fraternity during Nago’s interrogation. The lawyers are meeting on Friday and the possibilities suggest they may request Chief Justice to order investigations under his supervision.

Kamal’s Post Fall RISE
There is something seriously wrong in Kashmir’s influential Abdullah family. Dr Mustafa Kamal who was unceremoniously sacked as party’s spokesman and additional secretary general has increased his attacks on his brother Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son chief minister Omar.

Last week Dr Farooq Abdullah in Rajouri told reporters that there were efforts within the party to topple Omar. His suggestion to party activists in Rajourito “unite in the interest of the party” sounded black humour in wake of Kamal’s upped ante against the father-son. Kamal termed Omar a “weak and insecure” person who got “nervous” with “my popularity” and got “me sacked”. Kamal had accused army of using grenade attacks to force continuation of AFSPA and later asserted Rahul Gandhi lacks any role in the governance of J&K. It led to his sacking on November 10.

 “Perhaps he (Omar) is not certain of himself, he is not sure, he is weak in a sense that he feels uneasy (with my growing popularity),” Kamal was quoted saying by Kashmir’s major newspaper. Asserting his sacking was forced by “Omar and his coterie” because of their nervousness, Kamal said he was deliberately kept out of the cabinet at the last moment.

But the credit goes to Kamal for creating his own limits. He said his relations with his elder sister Begum Khalida Shah are strong but that will never take him to join the Awami National Conference. Since he was born in NC, he believes, he will love to die in NC.

Accusing Omar of compromising party interests in associating with Congress, Kamal even questioned the way J&K is being governed. “Governments are not run from the cozy office chambers,” he recently stated, adding, “To run the government one has to feel the ground situation by reaching out to people.” Though he asserted he lacks an ambition to become the chief minister but insisted “the destiny can have anything in store for me.”

On his part Omar is sitting silent. “He’s my uncle and I have the greatest of respect for him,” Omar tweeted in response to a question. “This matter is between him and my father, no reason to drag me into it.”

Party workers are watching the match from a distance. “It is within the family and not within the party,” one leader said. “I believe Mustafa is keeping a bad company”. But there are many who think Dr Kamal is trying to articulate the feeling of a common worker.

The Other OPTION
Desperately trying hard to convince people in Delhi and get AFSPA revoked selectively, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah even suggested amendingRanbir Panel Code (RPC) so it uniquely caters to the state and makes the Army more secure in carrying out its operations. This step will provide legal protection and immunity to armed forces in J&K at par with other states.

To keep his word on revoking AFSPA, Omar is willing to get other similar laws in place securing the operational procedures of the Army, which otherwise are not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir’s RPC.

“Army officers are afraid that their troops will be booked by the SHOs and Havaldarsif the AFSPA was removed. This is not the case. This will not happen. Legal immunity is there. We are ready to make RPC at par with CrPC’’, Omar said. Concluding from the documents he has gone through, Omar asserts that the final call on the issue of revoking AFSPA will be that of the Governor.

The state government has already sent a three-member delegation comprised of Home Secretary B R Sharma, DGP KuldeepKhoda and one of the Additional DGPs to brief various authorities in Delhi about the state and status of the situation in J&K. Omar wants the fourth member to the delegationto be from Northern Command, a request not accepted by the army so far. The delegation visit to Delhi would be a follow up to his visit, during which he had detailed interactions with the prime minister, home minister and the defence minister, besides the army chief.

HizbulMujahideen leader Syed Sallah-ud-Din, in the meanwhile, termed the AFSPA revocation issue as Omar’s ‘face saver.’ He sees the debate and the issue aimed at restoring the credibility of the Chief Minister. The fugitive leader said the law was imposed by the army and will be revoked only after army and other intelligence agencies suggest it.

Money Machine Flees
For years, a private chit fund company was minting money in Jammu. They were offering very attractive packages – something that perhaps never existed.  Taste the plans, as reported by a Jammu newspaper: (1) Pay a one-time amount of Rs 6000 online. After 18 months, the client would get Rs 163800. Repayment would come in 12 cheques in 18 months! (2) Deposit Rs 22920 and within 18 months you get Rs 2620800 (3) Invest Rs 120480 and you get Rs 17690400 in 18 months. (4) Depositor Rs 603 356 and take home five crore rupees after five months. People were always in line to get the windfall. Nobody got anything from Jaipur-based Gold Sukh Trade India Ltd that operated from Gandhi Nagar. Now they have closed the shop and police says the fraud could be anything upto Rs 300 crores! Case is registered under section 420.


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