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COALITION COLLAPSE: BJP DUMPS PDP

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar/New Delhi, Jun 19: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday shocked its alliance partner, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by pulling out of the coalition government in J&K, thus breaking up their second wobbly stint that began in April 2016.
Announcing the decision in a short presser, BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav said it had become “untenable” for the BJP to continue in the alliance government in the state.
“Taking feedback from all institutions, the centre and the party was of the view that it is time the BJP withdrew from state government,” he said.
Madhav, interestingly, said the decision was taken since “fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger.”
“Militancy, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are under danger in the Valley. Shujaat Bukhari’s killing is an example,” he said.
Madhav added that all the BJP ministers in the J&K government would resign and said the party wanted governor’s rule to be imposed in the state.
“Keeping in mind larger interest of India’s security and integrity, the fact is that J&K is an ‘integral’ part of India. In order to bring control over the situation prevailing in the state, we have decided that the reins of power in the state be handed over to the governor,” he said.
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta told reporters in Delhi that he and his ministerial colleagues have submitted their resignations to the governor as well as to the chief minister.
“Centre did everything for the Valley. We’ve tried to put a full-stop to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan. PDP has not been successful in fulfilling its promises. Our leaders have been facing a lot of difficulties from PDP in developmental works in Jammu and Ladakh,” Madhav said.
“We are not questioning the intentions of PDP but they have failed in improving the condition of life in Kashmir,” he added.
BJP pulled out of the alliance days after two major developments. First, the Government of India’s decision not to extend the Ramadan truce in Kashmir. Second, the assassination of senior Journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
Since the two parties first came to power in 2015 during Mufti Sayeed’s time, they opposed each other on almost every second matter – over PDP’s promises of talks with separatists, the proposal to remove the Armed Forces’ Special Powers Act that gives sweeping powers to the army, the rollout of the Centre’s Goods and Services Tax, and the Kathua rape and murder case.
The BJP has 25 lawmakers and the PDP has 28 in the 89-member state assembly, both far short of the majority mark of 45.
The Congress, which has 12 members, said there is no question of an alliance with the PDP.
The other major party in the state is the National Conference, with 15 seats. Its chief and former chief minister Omar Abdullah too ruled out any possibility of an alliance.
The ceasefire was Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s brainchild, though it had met stiff opposition from the state BJP.
Sources in PDP said that after deciding not to extend the conditional truce announced by the Centre during Ramadan, the Modi government has decided to launch a tough military campaign against militants in the give a ‘free hand’ to forces to deal with the situation. The PDP did not agree to it which established the point of no return.
The Chief Minister and the PDP had also pleaded for extending the Ramzan truce beyond Eid-ul-Fitr to pave the way for holding talks with the separatists which was ignored by the Centre, the sources said.
However, sections of government forces and also senior Army commanders were against extending the Ramadan ceasefire and even eager not only to resume but also bump up anti-militant operations across the Kashmir Valley at earliest.
They were planning to launch ‘Operation All Out II’ against the militants. In its first phase, more than three hundred militants, including several top commanders, were killed in 2017 and during the first four and half months of 2018.


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ACB registers case; Dy Mayor Imran, bank, govt officials in the soup

‘Bank gave Rs 36 cr loan on property already declared NPA’

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Srinagar, Jun 15: Accusing them of criminal conspiracy and illegal appropriation of subsidy worth crores, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered a case against businessman and deputy mayor Sheikh Imran and some government and J&K Bank officials.

The three parties are accused of “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama.”

The development happens days after ACB had raided 10 premises of Imran-owned Kehwa group last Tuesday.

 

An ACB spokesperson in a statement on Saturday said: “Case FIR No. 3/2019 u under section 5(1) (d) P.C Act Samvat 2006, punishable u/S 5(2) of the Act r/w 420 & 120-B RPC has been registered in Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau, South Kashmir (Anantnag) against Shiekh Imran Director M/S Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd Bohri Kadal Srinagar, officers of J&K Bank and other government officials, for illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama, (sic).”

Imran, who’d written dozens of tweets accusing the former J&K Bank Chairman Pervez Ahmad of being corrupt soon after the latter was sacked, has now himself landed in the soup.

During the verification conducted by ACB Kashmir, it was revealed that Imran had submitted a proposal to J&K Bank for establishment of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage under the name of M/S Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd at Lassipora, Pulwama.

As per the norms of Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH, a Joint Inspection Team of various experts and government officials along with Shiekh Imran (Director M/S Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd) conducted spot inspection of the site, the ACB spokesperson said.

The team assessed the cost of the project as Rs 33 crores including the 50% subsidy of Rs 16.50 crores, under Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States (HMNEH), a part of MIDH scheme.

The assessment report, as per the spokesperson, was sent to the empowered monitoring committee of MIDH, Government of India, for its final approval.

Once approved, the J&K Government, the spokesperson said, too constituted a committee which, after spot inspection and physical verification, recommended release of subsidy as per norms without altering or amending the component wise value of machinery and civil works.

The subsidy component (Rs 16.50 crores) released by National Horticulture Board (NHB), was, required to be kept in a separate account by the credit provider bank.

The money, as a matter of fact, was to be termed as ‘subsidy reserve fund’ and had detailed terms and conditions for its adjustment.

The Kehwa Group, meanwhile, was running six more business units for which Imran had raised varied loans and overdrafts, the total liabilities on account of which had accumulated to Rs 138 crores.

At this point, Kehwa Square including its sister business concerns, had turned Non-Performing Assets (NPA). Imran, as such, sought a one-time settlement (OTS) with J&K Bank authorities to which the bank accepted to wave-off Rs 33 crore from his total liabilities.

The Kehwa group was now asked to deposit Rs 105 crores in two instalments with the first instalment of Rs 50 crores to be paid by March 03, 2017.

With crores off his shoulder just like that, Imran then thought of another ploy.

He, the ACB investigation reveals, usurped the subsidy component he’d received for his CA storage business by declaring it as NPA without paying even a single instalment towards the bank.

This Imran did with connivance of the Horticulture Officers and Bank Officials, the ACB spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, the cost of the CA project assessed by ACB was found much lower than the projected cost.

It didn’t stop here though.Imran, with the active support of the officials of J&K Bank, roped in another business unit ‘M/S Go Fresh’, whose proprietor, as per ACB, is one Nadeem Ahmad Mayar.

Nadeem sought and obtained a loan of Rs 36.10 crore in lieu of the proposed transfer in his name the same CA Store in Lassipora which Imran had received the loan on.
Ironically, the property Nadeem got the loan on was already under hypothecation with the bank as the asset of the principal borrower, Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd.
Nadeem, as per ACB, then physically took over the operation of the CA storage business unit “without formal transfer of assets/liabilities in his favour.”
The ACB inquiry revealed that Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd surreptitiously sought and got further concessions from the bank on his second installment of Rs 55 crore of the total one-time settlement of Rs 105 crores.
The Rs 55-crore installment, as per ACB, was further reduced to Rs 27 crore.
The ACB inquiry revealed that Kehwa Group “in furtherance of a well-knit conspiracy with respective Government agencies and bank authorities under the garb of NPA and OTSs in mutual conspiracy illegally benefitted the proprietor/s of M/S Kehwa Group with illegal appropriation of subsidy amount of Rs 16.50 crores and layering of various transactions.”
Thus, the spokesperson of the Bureau said, it was established that the Kehwa Group had got their loan of Rs 138 crores with J&K Bank, restructured for an amount of Rs 78 crores.
“Under a well-knit conspiracy Sheikh Imran and partners of M/S Kehwa Square were extended covert/overt support by Officers of J&K Bank and Joint Inspection Team (the one which inspected the CA facility), dishonestly and fraudulently, who by abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants conferred undue pecuniary/monetary advantage on Kehwa Group of Companies thereby causing illegal appropriation of crores of rupees from State exchequer, for personal motives,” the spokesperson said.
“The investigation has been set into motion and further action as per law is in process,” he added.
Imran, in the meantime, did not respond to several calls and a text message by The Kashmir Monitor. Later, he switched off his phone.

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JK Bank implements RTI, CVC guidelines framework

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Srinagar, Jun 15: The Board of Directors of J&K Bank Saturday took some important decisions towards improving governance and bringing more transparency in the functioning of the Bank.

While meeting for the first time under the Chairmanship of its interim Chairman & Managing Director Rajesh Kumar Chhibber, the Board took major decisions in this direction which include implementation of J&K RTI Act, 2009 and CVC guidelines from June 17.

Besides other directors on Board of the Bank, the meeting was attended by Promotor Director Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner of J&K State.

 

Notably the Board of Directors after receiving directions from the Government of J&K had in its meeting held on March 16 decided to implement the RTI and CVC guidelines from June this year.

While passing directions to arrest any further slippages of accounts to NPA, the Board also decided that strict action shall be initiated against all the willful defaulters.

The Board also urged for a strong monitoring mechanism for ensuring timely implementation of Board decisions.

Boosting the digital vision of the bank, the Board also called for strengthening of technology framework that includes migration of its Core Banking Solution to Finacle 10 besides strengthening its early warning and alert generation systems.

Expressing total confidence in the Bank’s management and staff, the Board unanimously assured all the stakeholders that the Bank is fundamentally strong and was in safe Zone as all the measures were afoot to institutionalize transparency and strengthen accountability frameworks structurally by reinforcing proper checks and balances within the system.

The Board was optimistic that the bank will achieve all the envisaged business targets in time and would do better on all performance indicators going forward.

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JK’s inspection dept doesn’t inspect

Cries manpower shortage with just 5 officers in place for 40 depts

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 15: As incredible as it may sound, Jammu and Kashmir has only five officers to conduct the administrative inspection of 40 departments to ensure proper maintenance of records and implementation of the rules and regulations.

Jammu and Kashmir government has established Department of Administrative Reforms, Inspections and Trainings (ARI&T) with a specific mandate to finalise recruitment rules and maintain the records.

As per the rules, the Department of ARI&T has to carry out periodic inspections of different offices and submit their performance report to the government.

 

Yet only five officers have been posted to conduct the inspection of 40 departments.
“These five officers are unable to conduct periodic inspections. This department has the responsibility to conduct surprise inspections but these are rarely being done given the dearth of manpower,” said a source in the department.

There are several departments which have not even framed the recruitment rules or promotion policy.

For instance, Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), an official said, is functioning without any recruitment rules which has resulted in stagnation and impacted the promotion prospects of its employees.“Eighteen months ago departmental promotion committee of SDA recommended promotion of some officials, but it was not approved for the want of recruitment rules. Department of Administrative Reforms, Inspections and Trainings too did not conduct any inspection to finalise the recruitment rules,” the official added.

Sources said that given the shortage of workforce, the Department of ARI&T will take years to conduct the administrative inspections of all the departments.

A senior official of the ARI&T, however, said they have written to the government to fill the vacant posts at the earliest. “Once we get the adequate staff, there will be regular inspection of the departments,” he added.

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