Govt's entire communication system chocked over transfer of a KAS officer

TNN Bureau. Updated: 10/12/2017 1:44:36 AM Front Page

DIPR strike blacks out Governor, CM, all Ministers

JAMMU: Governor NN Vohra met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi Wednesday ahead of the Governors' Conclave, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had at least four public engagements in the day, while over a dozen Ministers ran through several meetings and tours but all these events suffered an 'official' blackout.
The official mouth organ of the government, it seems, rebelled against the government causing unprecedented information blackout. The officials of Department of Information and Public Relations are on strike after government ordered attachment of Joint Director following a curiously 'certified' case of alleged irregularities in distribution of government advertisement to newspapers.
Demanding revocation of attachment of Joint Director Zahoor Ahmed Mir, a KAS officer, the officials of the joint directorate got together in an unprecedented unity and decided to abstain from work. Taking a direct affront with the government, the officials decided not release the handouts of even the Governor and Chief Ministers.
In a message of complete confrontation with the government, the Information employees refused to release the handouts of Chief Minister which were written by CM's Information Officer. Minister for Information Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said that the Director Information was told to ensure that handouts are released. When contacted, Munir-ul-Islam, the Director of Information said, "I don't have any comment to make on this issue".
The employees of Information Department have gone on indefinite strike demanding immediate revocation of the attachment order of Joint Director Information Kashmir, Zahoor Ahmad Mir.
In view of Department's complete refusal to cooperate, the handouts of Chief Minister's four events had to be released from personal email account of her Information Officer Ahsan Chishti.
The whole controversy broke out after a person connected with a Srinagar newspaper used RTI to seek information about monthly distribution of government advertisement to newspapers. The reply approved and signed by Joint Director Zahoor Mir, KAS, carried embarrassing discrepancies including allocation of advertisements to newspapers which didn't exist. There were a number of other issues like higher volume of advertisement to some obscure papers than the established ones.
The detailed list soon went viral triggering criticism from a section of newspaper owners. In wake of this, the Minister for Information Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali ordered for a time-bound inquiry to be inducted by the Director Information, Munir-ul-Islam, and in the meanwhile the Joint Director was attached within the Directorate till completion of inquiry.
The officials of the Joint Directorate did not take this kindly as they mounted pressure on the government for immediate revocation of attachment.
Minister Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali told The News Now over phone from Srinagar, "an irregularity had prima facie happened. To inquire the allegations I fixed shortest possible time of one week so that Joint Director could be restored to his office if exonerated but some officials took to bullying tactics". The Minister further said, "I fully understand what is going on".
Earlier in the day, an order of the GAD said, "In order to inquire into the allegations of irrational distribution of Government advertisements among the print media for publication, Director Information J&K is hereby nominated as the inquiry officer for the purpose. The inquiry officer shall conduct an inquiry in the matter and submit the report to the Administrative Department within a period of one week positively. In the meantime, Mr. Zahoor Ahmad Mir, KAS, Joint Director Information, Kashmir shall remain attached with the office of the Director Information J&K, Srinagar. It is further ordered that Mr. Zahoor Ahmad, Deputy Director Information (Hqrs) Directorate of Information shall look after the work of Advertisement wing and other routine work of the office of the Joint Director Information, Kashmir till further orders".
"All the offices of Information Department both in Kashmir and Jammu Divisions will remain shut till the attachment order of Joint Director Kashmir is revoked," a spokesman of the Information Department Employees Union said in a statement after an emergency meeting of the Union convened here this morning. He said neither any advertisements will be received or distributed by the Information Department nor any official press releases will be issued till the attachment order is revoked.
The Information Department Employees Union has sought the personal intervention of the Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti and the Information Minister, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali in ensuring the security and dignity of the employees who are working almost round the clock.
The spokesman said unfortunately the employees of the Advertisement wings at the offices of Joint Director Information Kashmir/Jammu are subjected to frequent intimidation and harassment by some small-time editors demanding lion's share of advertisements and other monetary benefits for their publications.
"In the recent past the frequency of such intimidating incidents has increased alarmingly and last week an editor while barging into the office of Joint Director Information Kashmir abused the officers there and even threatened to get them eliminated if his publication is not given bulk share of advertisements," the spokesman said and added that in a similar incident that took place earlier this year, FIR already stands lodged against one such editor for threatening and browbeating the employees of the advertisement wing of the office of Joint Director Information Kashmir.

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