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Political parties in JK stretching and squeezing possibilities to make it 44

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, July 6: The political parties are making continuous efforts to cobble up the requisite number to form government in Jammu and Kashmir. In the 87-member J&K Assembly, PDP is the single largest party with 28 seats followed by BJP with 25 seats, National Conference 15, Congress 12, and Peoples Conference (PC) with 2 seats. Remaining are independent candidates. All political parties, according to sources, are holding talks with each other parties to reach magic 44 seats required for forming the government. The BJP leaders, according to the party insiders, are in touch with the MLAs going against PDP. “For forming the government, at least 18 MLAs have to dissent the PDP, which is two-third of the party’s total seat count in the house,” a BJP leader said. “If we manage to get the support of 18 PDP MLAs, there will be a BJP-led government in the state. The BJP leadership is in touch with several PDP MLAs.” The BJP’s Chief Spokesperson, Sunil Sethi, said the party can only form the government when two-third of PDP MLAs dessert the party. The activities on government formation gained momentum after BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav and State BJP leaders last week called on Sajjad Lone in Srinagar and discussed possibility of forming a government. Disgruntled PDP leader and MLA Zadibal, Abid Ansari, has claimed that 14 legislators are mulling to leave the party. Abdul Majeed Padroo, representing Noorabad constituency said he had resigned from the PDP. “I can support any party for government formation,” Padroo said. The PDP chief spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said party would hold parley with disgruntled MLAs. “Once the party president will return from New Delhi, the PDP will hold a meeting,” Mir said. However, he refused to comment whether the party leadership was holding talks with Congress party to form the government. Mehbooba Mufti, who has been camping in New Delhi for the last several days, has reportedly met senior Congress leaders. She, according to media reports, met with Dr Manmohan Singh, too. “If the disgruntled PDP MLAs leave the party, we won’t be able to reach the requisite number,” a Congress leader said, wishing anonymity. So far five sitting MLAs including two influential Shia legislators Abid Ansari and his nephew and former minister Imran Ansari have openly opposed Mehbooba. If the BJP is to form the government, it needs the support of 44 MLAs. The party has 25 MLAs, its ally PC has two and it may also have secured the support of two independent legislators, taking its tally to 29. In that scenario, the saffron party will still be short of 15 members in J&K, which has been under Governor’s Rule since June 20, a day after BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP coalition.


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Omar says Kashmiris ‘suspicious’ of new faces

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 22: National Conference vice-president and former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Monday advocated for “participatory democracy” in J&K while claiming that people of J&K are suspicious of “new faces and new alliances.”

Omar was reacting to a news article published by The Hindu on Sunday.

The article ‘Centre’s Jammu and Kashmir playbook goes down to the grassroots’ concluded that the Centre wanted “to move away from the set pieces and put in place different actors on the political chessboard, actors who would be not only new but also devise new moves.”

 

Reacting to it, Omar tweeted: “New Delhi ‘wants to put different actors on the political chessboard’. This is why people in the valley are deeply suspicious of the new faces & new alliances being foisted on them. Why are voters in Kashmir not trusted to know what is good for them?”

“There are a lot of systemic problems in J&K. Participatory democracy & empowered institutions will contribute to solutions being found. The key word here being PARTICIPATORY,” he tweeted.

Omar, like most of his political counterparts in the state, has been demanding conduct of Assembly polls in the J&K, which is under President’ Rule since December last year following six months of Governor’s Rule since June 2018.

Referring to the article, Omar wrote: “Of course Panchayats & Urban Local Bodies have to be empowered but why do these pieces ignore the reality that many seats in the valley are vacant, the ones that were filled either won unopposed or with a negligible participation of voters.”

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JK Bank probe: ACB raids IFFCO TOKIO

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 22: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Mondayraided the Srinagar office of IFFCO TOKIO, the insurance company J&K Bank had partnered with earlier this year.  

The company, ACB claimed, had secured undue benefits after employing a close relative of former chairman J&K Bank Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, who was removed by the government on the charges of ‘misgovernance’ last month.

Giving details, a spokesperson of the Bureau said that a source report received by ACB revealed that an insurance deal in violation of norms was made by J&K Bank with IFFCO TOKIO in which close relative of Parvez was employed resulting into undue benefits to the company.

 

“By resorting to the acts of favoritism and abuse of official position as Chairman J&K Bank in connivance with MD IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company, his (Parvez’s) relative Asif Manzoor Beigh was appointed in the said insurance company against annual salary package of Rs 19,28,886 which is approximately 2.5 times higher than that of the package given by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company where the accused beneficiary was functioning as deputy manager,” said the ACB spokesperson.

The accused beneficiary, as per ACB, is currently serving as Chief Manager in IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Srinagar office.

“In order to affect search of the office premises of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company located at Chinar Complex Residency Road Srinagar Kashmir, a warrant was procured from the competent court of law. The search was conducted to seize incriminatory evidence related to the commission of the offence by the officers/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd,” the spokesperson added.

A verification conducted into the matter, as per the spokesperson, revealed that J&K Bank had already entered into venture with PNB Metflife Insurance company for sale of its insurance products in the year 2000, followed by similar nature of venture with Bajaj Allianz Insurance Company for sale and distribution of its non-life insurance products including health product in the year 2002.  

The initial ACB probe revealed that in the first quarter of 2018-19 (April to June 2018), J&K Bank received Rs 159 lakh as commission from Bajaj Allianz, whereas the commission received from IFFCO TOKIO General insurance Company Ltd for the first quarter of 2019-20 is to the tune of Rs 88 lakh only.

“It is less by Rs 71 lakh, thereby a loss in the form of commission to J&K Bank Ltd has been caused,” said the ACB spokesperson.

He added: “The aforementioned omissions and commissions on the part of Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, the then Chairman J&K Bank Ltd in furtherance of conspiracy hatched with Officer/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd while executing an insurance deal with the said company in order to secure appointment of his  close relative Asif Manzoor Beigh in the said company and others at the cost of J&K Bank resources constitute criminal misconduct under J&K P C Act 2006 and thus disclose commission of offences punishable U/S 5(1) (d) read with 5(2) J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120B of the RPC.  Case FIR No 14/2019 stands registered in PS ACB Srinagar into the matter and investigation is going on.”

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Plea against pellet guns: Decide in 6 weeks: SC to JKHC

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jul 22: The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday to decide within six weeks the plea seeking ban on the use of pellet guns for controlling street protests in the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of a letter dated July 4 by the Registrar General of the High Court that the matter is listed for hearing on Tuesday before a division bench.

The PIL on the issue was filed before the high court in 2016 by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use.

 

Taking on record the letter of the Registrar of the High Court, the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said: “We request the Division Bench of the High Court to expeditiously decide the matter and pass order preferably within six weeks.”

The lawyers association had approached the apex court with an appeal against the interim order of the High Court which on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.

The apex court on January 18, 2018 had said it would wait for the outcome of the petition pending before the High Court.

In the apex court, the High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should waited or called for the report of the expert committee.

The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.

When the matter came up for hearing on December 14, 2016, the Supreme Court had observed that pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.

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