Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) raised the State’s best party headquarters near Zero Bridge and behind Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar when late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was the Chief Minister and his son-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah Minister of Public Works. Officials and engineers still living in Srinagar insist that Mr Shah played the most important role in raising a multi-storey commercial complex, even as the former General Secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmad is credited with much of the organisation’s developmental operations.Until the outbreak of militancy in 1989, Sheikh Nazir used to hold his office at the party’s historic headquarters at Mujahid Manzil in the downtown Srinagar interior of Fateh Kadal. From 1980 to 1990, all of the NC’s offices were shifted and established at the Nawa-e-Subah complex. It was actually built as the premises for NC’s official organ Nawa-e-Subah which published in separate editions in Urdu and English.Over the years, NC has hugely expanded its J&K headquarters at the same complex even as it has not been able to revive the two newspapers after 1990. Truckloads of the printing presses newsprint was looted on gun point from the same premises in 1990-93 when all of NC’s offices had been shut and all the leaders had deserted. The party operations were restored after NC regained power in 1996. Now the complex houses offices of different wings including spacious meeting halls and a martyrs memorial archived with photographs of the senior leaders who were gunned down by militants.Dozens of shops and other commercial establishments including some government companies have occupied spaces on rent in the same protected complex.CAG’s special audit report in 2014 mentioned that this complex was situated on the occupied State land of 3 kanals and 16 marlas. Ownership rights were vested to the NC after payment of Rs 51.30 lakhs under the Roshni Act of 2001. At the rate of Rs 1.20 crore, its cost was fixed at Rs 4.56 crore. Under the Act, NC enjoyed a rebate of Rs 4.04 crore. This whole property, along with its structures, is now estimated to be of the market value of Rs 120 crore.According to some officials, NC’s Jammu headquarters, named Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan, at Vir Marg, has also been built on the leased State land that Late Sheikh Nazir Ahmad got regularised at a huge rebate under the Roshni Act.Even as no State land rights have been vested to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, his son Farooq Abdullah and grandson Omar Abdullah-all ex-CMs-the 1975-77 cabinet colleagues of Sheikh Sahab have been named among the beneficiaries. Mirza Ghulam Hassan Beg Arif, brother of Sheikh’s deputy CM Mirza Afzal Beg, and his family members got ownership rights at huge rebates on a big chunk of the State land at Gogji Bagh in Srinagar where they raised residential houses and an educational institute.Mirza Afzal Beg’s son, Dr Mehbooba Beg, who himself served as Minister in GM Shah’s cabinet and MLA and MP several times, is shown to have taken ownership rights on 3 kanals and 13 marlas of the occupied State land at Nursingh Garh in Srinagar.Sonam Wangchuk, the son of Sheikh’s cabinet colleague and ex-diplomat Sonam Norbo, is shown to have taken ownership rights on 2.4 kanals of the occupied State land at Rajbagh in Srinagar. Norbo, a former engineer, who also served as ambassador in Mongolia, was an ‘accidental Minister’ when Sheikh returned to the mainstream and he inducted only four Ministers in his Cabinet.A number of the family members of Sheikh’s cabinet colleagues, GM Shah and Mohiuddin Shah, have already been mentioned. The list carries a number of the names of the relatives and descendants of ex-PM Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad and the Congress veteran Lala Teerath Ram Amla.Over 20 top government officials, including three IAS officers who retired on ranks of Secretary to Government of India, over a dozen retired IAS and KAS officers and several engineers also figure among the beneficiaries. It includes Late Qazi Nizam Ahmed, who retired as Secretary (Hydraulic Wing) in J&K Government after serving as Chief Engineer and Development Commissioner (Works) for several years.In Jammu, the owners of the National Garage, C.L. Gulati and sons are shown among the biggest beneficiaries. They are shown to have taken ownership rights on a prime piece of the occupied State land, measuring 3 kanals and 9 marlas, at B.C. Road in the heart of the city. At the rate of Rs 90 lakh/kanal, its value has been fixed at Rs 3.14 crore. The Gulatis have enjoyed a rebate of Rs 2.43 crore and paid just Rs 70.64 lakh.
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