News Notes

Geelani, PDP and Pundits

Geelani threw the ball into the court of Kashmiri Pundits when he proposed that they should conduct the proceedings of AmarnathYatra

Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani

and also called for immediate dissolving of ShriAmarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

The octogenarian leader said that yatra was started in 1867 and was smoothly running with Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits extending every kind of help, but one fails to understand why shrine board was created.

Maintaining that Kashmiri’s were never against the Yatra, Geelani said that New Delhi was giving it a political color only to continue its political, military and cultural aggression in Kashmir.

He said where was the Supreme Court of India during 2008 and 2010 agitations. He said that the number of yatris should be decreased and no construction should take place in the area as Kashmir’s environment is already under threat.

He said 12000 Hindus including Pandits, performed yatra in 1989. “This year 6,30,000 pilgrims visited the cave,” Geelani said.

He said duration of the pilgrimage and the number of visitors should be restricted to avoid environmental disaster.

PDP’s national spokesman, Dr Sameer Koul welcomedGeelani’s statement and said, there was no doubt in his mind about Geelani’s proposal. The Amarnathyatra used to be Kashmiri Pandits affair and it should be given back to them.

At present, Dr Koul said, there were a few Kashmiri Pandits in ShriAmarnath Shrine Board (SASB). “But their views don’t matter to the SASB.”

In 2000, National Conference government enacted the law constituting the SASB. On March 17, 2004, the SASB extended the Yatra from 15 days to two months. In 2005, the then chief minister, incidentally the PDP patron, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, objected to the SASB’s move to increase the Yatra duration. The SASB, however, described government opposition as interference into a religious matter and refused to oblige the government.

The Power ISSUES

The issues Power
The issues Power

The Power Development Department (PDD) has been in news from past several weeks for its various issues concerning many of its officers and ministers involving in tampering of electricity but this time it is for a positive one. After privatization, State government has decided to convert the PDD into four different companies with each having 100 percent equity of the state government.

The decision was taken by the state cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah under the provisions of Companies Act 1956. Chief Minster underlined the importance of construction of hydroelectric projects in the state and said the economic growth and holistic development of a State like Jammu and Kashmir is largely dependent on the production of electricity.

The approved divided departments include one Trading Company (holding company) – acting as a bulk supplier of electricity to the distribution companies, a State Transmission Utility (Transco) – responsible for the transmission and load dispatch functions in the state, with the SLDC separately ring-fenced within the transmission utility for handling system operations in the state and two Distribution companies (Discoms), one each for Jammu and Kashmir provinces. The State Transmission Company would replace the System and Operation Wings of PDD, both in the Kashmir and Jammu divisions.  Each of the successor companies will be 100 percent owned by the state government. For the revamp, the government has roped in a British consultancy, ‘Price water house Coopers’ (PWC) for giving the blueprint for setting up of the Transmission and Distribution companies in the state and more new decisions will be taken in the coming months.

Chief Engineer, PDD Kashmir, MuzaffarMatoo has revealed three more centers; one Data Centre or Call Centre, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCDA) and Geographic Information System (GIS) centre will come up at Bemina within a few months for more accountability of the department. The entire project will be executed under the special scheme of Government of India- Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Program(R-APDRP) and 19 towns will be covered under the project in J&K.

In addition, a number of power projects are in pipeline to generate over 4000 MW of power during the next over 5 years. The new projects include the 2nd phase of BagliharProject which will generate 1302 MU of energy annually with an average annual income of about Rs. 500 crore. The first phase of the project of 450 MW started from April 2009 and so far by the end of the August it generated 10724.06 million unit of energy worth Rs. 4027.450 crore. And another project, 850 Mega Watt (MW) Ratle Hydro Power Project located 14 kilometers downstream of Dulhasti Hydroelectric Project’s power house and 61 kilometers upstream of Baglihar project. The power house of the project will be underground and there will be five turbines (four of 205 MW each plus one of 30 MW for additional unit).

The Taxing PROBLEM

Tax defaulters got surfaced once gain in state when the state’s Taxation Department Tuesday claimed that business houses owe more than Rs 563 crore as sales and commercial taxes to the government.

The disclosure was made by Commissioner, Commercial Taxes Department, KifayatHussainRizvi in an Action Taken Report (ATR) filed, alongwith list of defaulters, before the Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the issue.

The department claims that an amount of around Rs 256 crore was recoverable in Jammu region, while in Kashmir the recovery amount was to the tune of Rs 307 crore.

Prominent defaulters included Minister of State for Home NasirAslamWani, ArshiTaj, daughter of TajMohi-ud-Din, Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Highland Motors of Amjad Abbas and Imran Raza Ansari, son of MolviIftikharHussain Ansari.

Expressing displeasure over the looseness in recovery of Sales Tax arrears worth crores of rupees from large number of defaulters, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Justice Virender Singh and Justice MuzaffarHussain Attar, passed strictures against the Commercial Taxes Department and directed the State not to frame any amnesty scheme at this stage for recovering the taxes from the defaulters.

Balvinder Singh, Convener Sangarsh RTI Movement, filed the Public Interest Litigation in this case. Judiciary maintained that the state authorities cannot be said to be helpless and hapless in tracing out the defaulters, who have swindled the public exchequer of huge amounts.

The Return of RENEGADES

The renegades it seems are back in action.Recently a former Ikhwani and his men barged into the house of Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone and beat

Bruised Imatiyaz Ahmed Lone and his family
Bruised Imatiyaz Ahmed Lone and his family

up the inmates on Thursday night in Kupwara.

According to Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, who has received several injuries on his body and neck, former militant turned Ikhwani- Muhammad Shafi Lone alias PirJehangir attacked his family on the night of August 29 when they were fast asleep and tried to slit his throat, beat up severely his mother and injured his father.

The attack was triggered by a dispute over a piece of land sold by a Pandit family to GhulamQadir and the former renegade had an eye on the land, Muhammad Shafi alias Peer Jahangir. Shafi was the caretaker of the land measuring about 14 marla.

Earlier Shafi had lodged a complaint with the district administration, which set up a committee and gave a verdict in GhulamQadir’sfavour.Shafi then approached the Mohalla Committee, which again gave the judgement in GhulamQadir’sfavour. This literally maddened Shafi.

Around 12 members of a injured family reached the Press Enclave bandaged with glucose drips stuck in their veins, alleging they had been attacked by a group of people- many of them former renegades- as Jammu and Kashmir police and army watched as mute spectators. The SHO Police Station Trehgam, Nisar Ahmad said that the dispute was old and previously Imtiyaz’s family has attacked Lone’s family. “We are looking at the all aspects of the case and FIR has been registered against assaulters. So far we have arrested eight persons involved in the attack and we have launched a hunt to arrest the main accused Muhammad Shafi Lone,” he added.

The attackers didn’t even spare 15-year-old baby, who was thrown down from the bed. “They attacked me with a knife and slashed my back and then dragged me out of my bed. They were shouting ‘kill them all.’ One of the attackers tore my clothes and told me that he would rape me. I fainted,” said a woman.

Revealed, After His DEATH

In response to information sought by the noted RTI activist Raja MuzaffarBhat, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that in 2001 a passport was issued to ‘reportedly’ dead Major Avtar Singh, wanted in JaleelAndrabi murder case.  The ministry has said as per records available with its Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) division, passport number E-0450622 was issued to Major Avtar Singh by Regional Passport Officer Chandigarh on December 24, 2001.

The passport was issued despite a division bench comprising of Justices Bilal Nazki and R C Gandhi in April 1997 issued directions to the central government to impound Avtar Singh’s passport. Advocate Mir Hafizullah, who represents Andrabi’s family in the court, said that he was shocked to learn that a passport has been issued to Major Singh in 2001.

“This is most surprising for me as the High Court directions to impound Major Singh’s passport, if any, were duly conveyed to the union of India through their counsel who was present in the court in April 1997 when the court heard the matter. It shows how he has been supported and shielded by the government of India to evade the prosecution,” said advocate Hafizullah. He added that it was shocking to know that Major Singh has been given a passport even after he was involved in heinous crimes like murder of JaleelAndrabi.

“I wonder why the government of India shows seriousness in ordinary cases of passport issuance. They don’t issue passports to Haj pilgrims whose distant relatives were affiliated with militancy and are now in mainstream. But they issue passport to the dreaded criminals. What a contradiction?” remarked Hafizullah. The MEA response came months after AvtarSingh, reportedly ended his life after killing his wife and two children in Selma, California.

Now, Who Framed HIM?

The case of Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat a paramilitary CRPF trooper of 122 battalion of CRPF, took a twist when a local court set him free.Muzaffar, a Kashmir native was accused by police of aiding and assisting militants by facilitating supply of arms to them. Muzaffar,was discharged by Additional Sessions Judge, R K Watel, after hearing advocates Mir ShafaqatHussain and Ms Urfy, and Additional Public Prosecutor.

The accused, a resident of AglarPulwama in South Kashmir, was filed under a challan (FIR N0. 160) under section 121, 121A Cr.P.C (waging war against state), 122 Cr. P.C (Collecting arms with intention of waging war against Government of India)  and 10 Criminal Law Amendment Act. But the court observed that in view of Section 196 Cr. P.C, there is an express bar on the cognizance of the complaint for the offences under Section 121, 121-A, 122 RPC unless complaint was made by the District magistrate but in this case no complaint was made by the District Magistrate pertaining to the case.

A departmental inquiry conducted by CRPF had already found Bhat innocent and he was reinstated six months after his suspension.

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