By Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 1: Hours after a detailed  about the irregularities of a failed tourism festival reached millions of readers through today’s edition of STATE TIMES, General Administration Department (GAD) of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir relieved Tassaduq Jeelani of his charge of Director of Tourism, Kashmir, and assigned the same temporarily to Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan” without attaching or placing Mr Jeelani under suspension.

“In the interest of administration, Mr. Tassaduq Jeelani, KAS, shall, with immediate effect, cease to discharge the duties and functions attached to the post of Director Tourism, Kashmir, which shall henceforth and until further orders, be discharged by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, in addition to his own duties”, said GAD’s Order No: 1618-GAD of 2018 Dated 01-11-2018.

This was followed by GAD’s Order No: 1619-GAD of 2018 Dated 01-11-2018, which reads: “Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, shall conduct a fact finding enquiry into the incidents reported to have occurred during the events organised by the Tourism Department under the “Kashmir Familiarisation Tour” from October 25th to October 27th, 2018. It added: “Divisional Commissioner Kashmir shall complete the enquiry and submit his report to the General Administration Department within 10 days from the date of issuance of this order”.

*Significantly, neither of the two successive orders removed Mr Jeelani from his office, attached him to GAD or placed him under suspension, pending the enquiry. Officials in Tourism Department insisted that Mr Jeelani continued signing papers and files at his office, albeit in the date of October 30, from forenoon to afternoon.*

“He is keen to sign certain documents including supply order of pre-fabricated huts in favour of a furniture house, with its office at Hyderpora, as it is rumoured that the supplier has already paid bribe worth Rs 2.5 crore to a former officer and Rs 60 lakhs to an incumbent officer”, said a knowledgeable source. “He is signing the papers at his office without regard to the two Government orders as an assurance has come from higher offices that the Divisional Commissioner would give a clean chit to the Director and he would be restored to his chair in two weeks”, he said.

*Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan said that immediately after it came to his notice that the officer was holding his chair and signing papers, he got office of Director of Tourism locked and retained the keys with himself. “There’s no question of eyewash. It is a serious, regular inquiry and I will hold it with full transparency and sense of responsibility”, Mr Khan told STATE TIMES.*

Official sources at Civil Secretariat, nevertheless, pointed out “intrigues” in the two GAD orders, while claiming that both the orders were deficient enough to ensure that Mr Jeelani gets a clean chit. They pointed out that the accused officer had not been attached to GAD or placed under suspension in the first order while as the second order does not even mention his name. It simply seeks an enquiry into the incudents reported during the festival.

*“How can an inquiry officer call an accused for answers and explanations when the order doesn’t even mention his name, let alone attachment and suspension pending enquiry”, asked a senior government officer. He asserted that a government official could not be punished without meeting requirements of Rule 30 of The Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956. “These are clearly deficient orders issued with the intention of helping the accused. Bureaucracy has been completely misled on it”, he added.*

Another senior officer said that the two GAD orders, unlike other routine orders, were deficient and obscure and these would give levy to the accused. Had the GAD been sincere, it would have ordered attachment or suspension of the accused and elaborated on terms of reference of the inquiry.

*“In current circumstances, Inquiry Officer will enquire whether the accused was in inebriated condition or not, besides focussing on some marginal issues. There is a host of facts in the STATE TIMES story. Why shouldn’t the Government order a clear inquiry to find as to who decided to hold an off-season tourism festival when no tourists were expected to visit Kashmir; how Directorate of Tourism went ahead to spend Rs 2 crore on the festival without Finance Department’s knowledge and concurrence and without signatures of any member of Publicity Committee on the minutes of the meeting issued on October 17”, said an official.*

According to other officers and bureaucrats who spoke to this newspaper, Secretary Tourism should have issued a proper Government Order while sanctioning diversion of an amount of Rs 2 crore which was actually earmarked for making a film by Discovery Channel.

“There’s nothing on files, other than the minutes issued by an Under Secretary to Government. Nobody knows why over a hundred rooms were booked at private hotels each at Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg when Government’s own huts and hotels were lying vacant. Nobody knows what criteria was adopted in selecting guests from outside. Nobody knows who authorised making of expensive suits for 12 officers including Secretary and Director of Tourism out of the tax-payers’ money” the officer asserted. “It seems to be a fixed match, just an eyewash, as all of it has not been mentioned specifically in the terms of reference”, he added.


_Published in STATE TIMES_


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