J&K Bank reported a net profit of Rs 213 crore for the third quarter taking its nine-month profit to Rs 595 crore, an increase by 25 percent in the corresponding period of the last fiscal. Apparently, a peaceful year after three consecutive disturbed summers helped the bank expand its network and improve its overall business.

“In the 12-month period from January 1, 2011, our overall business has grown by around Rs 13,000 crore, which means an increase of more than Rs 1,000 crore a month,” Bank Chairman Mushtaq Ahmad said. “We are on the right trajectory and we hope to conclude the year with a business of Rs 85000 crore and a profit of Rs 800 crore.”

“We do feel happy to see our balance sheet further firmed up. Such performance puts our growth trajectory on a sound basis while heading towards the proposed target of Rs 85,000 crore of business and Rs 800 crore profit by the end of current financial year, besides affirming the efficacy of major policy decisions the bank has taken in this direction.” By the end of December 2010, bank’s business was Rs 66000 crore.

Ahmad said he will consolidate the business growth through up-gradation of procedural systems, better risk-management practices, and optimization of tech-based services and development of requisite human resource.

Bank’s total income has increased by 33 percent from Rs 1012.22 crore to Rs 1340.16 crore in the corresponding period as its interest earnings surged from Rs 934 crore to Rs 1266 crore, an increase by 35 percent. In the three quarters, the bank’s interest earning has been Rs 3478 crore. Asset quality has improved as gross NPA is down to 1.80 per cent in the third quarter from 1.95 per cent in the same period of the previous year.

The governance structure of J&K government is facing a serious crisis as around 50 top officers are retiring this year. These include 19 from IAS-IPS flock and 28 from the KAS. Mohammad Sayeed Khan and Kacho Isfandyar Khan have already retired. They will be followed by Naseem Lankar in February, G A Peer and Abdul Hamid Wani in March, R K Jerath, A K Raina and G R Bhagat in April, Bua Ditta Bhagat in May, Sunita Sharma in August and Syed Mohammad Fazlullah and Bishan Dass Sharma in October.

Seven IPS officers will also retire by the end of December 2012. These include IGP’s Raja Aijaz Ali, Mohammad Amin Shah and A K Gupta in February followed by Zahoor Hussain Chishti in May and Gulzar Singh in September. DIGs G A Dar and A Q Manhas will reach superannuation in March and August this year.

Raja Aijaz and Ashok Gupta have an additional problem. Though they are qualified enough to be considered for ADGP positions, the lack of positions will make them to retire as IGPs only. Director General of Police Kuldip Khoda will reach superannuation in May.

Most of the 28 KAS officers retiring are heads of department and Special Secretaries. These include V K Sharma, Bashir Ahmad Najar, Shabir Ahmad Kanth, Khalid Bashir, Mushtaq Ahmad Siddiqui, Nazir Ahmad Shah, Dr Abdul Gani Sofi, R C Sharma, Gulzar Hussain, Mehmood Rana, Showkat Ahmad Fazili, Mohammad Ashraf Shunthoo, Parvez Ahmad Wani, Mohammad Yaseen Shoru, Mohammad Rafi, Mushtaq Ahmad Beig, R S Kotwal, Ishtiyaq Ahmad Ashai, Ravinder Gupta, Latief Ahmad Zargar, Chandra Gupta, Abdul Rashid Dar, Farida Bhat, Mir Fayaz Hussain, Ram Rattan Sharma, Syed Attaullah Simnani, S C Sharma and Mehboobul Hassan Beg.

The Poonch MURDERS
The mysterious triple death of a mother and her two daughters was initially supposed to be a suicide. But now police is investigating the murder angle as the dead woman’s husband and his two other relatives have been detained. Tragically, the corpse of minor daughter of the lady was nearly eaten by dogs in the district hospital where it was kept for autopsy.

The shocking incident took place in Gultrian village of Poonch and initial reports suggested that Jamila Bi, wife of Mohammad Salim has poisoned her two daughters Parveen Akhtar, 10 and Iram Salem, 4, and later killed herself as well. It was tiny Iram that had her face disfigured, apparently eaten by dogs, in the hospital, the next morning.

Autopsy found no poison in their bodies but strangulation marks on the necks of mother and the elder daughter. Police acted swiftly and arrested the deceased’s husband and his two other relatives. Investigations were going on.

‘Sold’ and RETURNED
Air India (AI) owned Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) has undone its deal over Centaur Lake View Hotel (CLVH) with a shadowy Mumbai firm D B Realty. It has already returned the signing amount of Rs 11.08 crore for the agreement under which the realty firm was supposed to manage its Srinagar hotel for 20 years.

HCI was under intense pressure from the CLVH employees to undo the deal and it was gradually becoming a major issue in the state with the trade actually pursuing it round the clock. The state government on its part had adversely reacted to the deal saying the CLVH being a JV, its fate can not be decided arbitrarily by one party.

AI finally took the advantage of the realty firm’s involvement in the 2G scandal in which many of its executive were jailed and are roaming around on bail. The operations and management agreement was inked in Mumbai in September 2010, at the peak of unrest in Srinagar.

The run down and loss making CLVH is a 269-room five star hotel that was set up in 1982. While J&K government invested eight crore rupees, the HCI spent around Rs 21 crore. Besides, state leased the prized 221 kanals land on the banks of the Dal lake on nominal rent of Rs 440 a year and a license fee of Rs one only for a period of 99 years.

Initially the hotel was doing well but after the onset of militancy, it suffered. Later it became partly a garrison and partly a housing place for some central government departments. Insiders said its accumulated losses are around Rs 30 crore.

Once the HCI failed to trigger a turnaround in its Srinagar operations, it started hounding its staff to reduce the running costs. In two years around 156 of its 500 employees were sent home under various schemes. It had already sold out its three hotels in Bombay and the one in Rajgheer, Bihar. Initially, the HCI was in talks with the state government and was keen to sell it for around Rs 139 crore but the funds crisis in the state coffers put off the deal.

It was later in 2010 that the HCI inked an agreement with the DB Realty. Under the agreement the HCI would get two crore rupees a year for 30 years. The Realty did pay Rs 11.08 crore – security deposit of Rs 10 crore and the minimum guarantee amount of Rs 1.08 crore, soon after the deal was done in a Mumbai court. But it was one of the clauses of the agreement that created a crisis. The new masters of the property were supposed to review the performance of the employees for a year and then take a view on their continuation. The employees who alleged the deal was done when they were under curfew, challenged the agreement in the court and got it stayed.

Employees put pressure on the state government and it gradually involved the entire trade in Kashmir. There were a series of meetings between the chief minister, state congress leaders and the aviation ministry. Finally the HCI scrapped the deal with the spectrum-tainted firm that lacks any direct exposure to the hospitality sector. State government is planning to acquire it for the JKTDC. But it is expected to take a long time as the process has just started.

Meanwhile its 67 temporary employees whose regularisation was approved by the AI Board on November 29 are yet to get their formal orders. The decision was taken after a lot of lobbying by the daily wagers who had put in 15 years of service.

Dr M Ashraf Qureshi
One of the two hijackers of the Fokker Friendship Ganga in 1971 that preceded the creation of Bangladesh, Dr Mohammad Ashraf Qureshi died in Rawalpandi last week. He was 59 and is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren. As it was impossible to inter him in Srinagar – his place of birth, as he had willed, he was finally buried in a lakeside cemetery at Mirpur, where he had spent most of his days.

A resident of Sekidafar, Qureshi leaped to the newspaper front pages world over when he along with his cousin Hashim Qureshi hijacked a Fokker Friendship aircraft Ganga on January 30, 1971. He was around 20 years of age then. After protracted negotiations, 26 passengers and 4 crew members of the hijacked plane were freed and sent back home on February 1, 1971 and the aircraft was set afire. Hijackers were initially projected as heroes but after India enforced ban on over-flight of Pakistani aircrafts, the hijackers were accused of being enemy agents. A crackdown on the National Liberation Front activists was launched and most of its leaders including Maqbool Bhat were arrested.

The in camera trial by a special tribunal started in December 1971 and concluded in May 1973 after examining 1984 prosecuting and 1942 defence witnesses. Barring certain minor offences, Ashraf was acquitted. By then he had spent his most dreadful days in Muzaffarabad’s Dollay Camp and Lahore’s Shahi Qilla and completed seven years imprisonment. Once out of jail livelihood became a problem. Having had his basic schooling from Srinagar, he chose to continue studies. After doing his bachelors from University of Punjab, he did MSc (Geology) and then another masters in Kashmiriyat.

A gold medallist in Kashmir language he did his PhD and was finally appointed in the Kashmiri department of the Punjab University in 1987. For the last four years he was the department chairman.  Poet and scholar, Dr Ashraf survived a haemorrhage and later was diagnosed for Parkinson’s disease. For the last half a year, he was not attending his office and was under treatment at Rawalpandi. He died of cardiac failure. Ashraf’s two younger brothers Altaf and Tabassum were killed in Kashmir during last 20 years.


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