March 2017 News

Kashmir: Mehbooba Govt Denies Pushing Separatist Geelani's Grandson For Plum Job

4 March 2017
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has denied pushing for the appointment of hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani's grandson as a research officer at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convection Complex (SKICC), a subsidiary of the state tourism department. A national newspaper had reported that Anees ul Islam secured a government job during the Kashmir unrest. It went on to suggest that 'rules were bent to accommodate Islam'. Geelani's son, Altaf Funtoosh, said he wouldn't 'comment on a baseless report penned with the intent of maligning the separatist leader'. Tourism secretary Farooq Shah, for his part, told Hindustan Times that 'the selection committee - which followed the proper procedure - found Islam to be the best among 196 candidates who applied for the post'. SKICC spokesperson Shahnawaz Ahmad said, 'In accordance with the rules, an advertisement was published through the information department in leading dailies of the Valley on October 3, 2016. By October 5, as many as 196 candidates had applied for the post - of which 35 were shortlisted for the interview round.' According to the SKICC, the notification in this regard was published on November 1, 2016. Ahmad said 32 candidates appeared for the interview, which was carried out by a selection committee in keeping with SKICC procedures. 'One Anees Shah Islam qualified for the post because he possessed the required qualifications and experience. His name was then sent for the mandated CID verification. There is no question of the government creating any post or using its influence to accommodate Islam,' he added. According to the SKICC, Islam held two MBA degrees - one from Punjab, and another from the UK. He also worked in England for a year, and three more in Dubai. Ahmad said the job was a supervisory one, and denied that it fetches an annual salary of Rs 12 lakh. The report evoked a mixed response in the Valley, with some questioning its credibility and others questioning the selection process. 'I don't see any problem with Anees getting a government job, considering that it's his right as a citizen. Being Geelani's grandson is no sin,' senior journalist Shujaat Bhukari wrote on the social media. However, former chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the appointment, tweeting that if 'backdoor appointments are wrong, they are wrong for everyone - including SASG's grandson. Period.' 'My problem isn't with the apparent hypocrisy, but the blatant violation of rules by the chief minister & her minions,' he wrote.