Examgate proves fatal for Education Minister

Peerzada Asked To Step Down

ANIL ANAND

New Delhi, Feb 9: Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed has been asked to step down following his indictment by the Crime Branch of the state police in the use “unfair means” by his son to pass matriculation examination.
“The Congress high command has asked Peerzada to submit his resignation immediately,” highly placed sources in the party told Greater Kashmir here this evening.
Corroborating a scoop published by this newspaper on January 30, the Crime Branch, during its investigations, confirmed use of “unfair means” by Peerzada’s foster son in connivance with BOSE and Education Department officials to pass class 10 examination in 2009.
The Crime Branch in its report submitted to the Government Wednesday, indicted six officials including present BOSE chairman Sheikh Bashir Ahmad, then deputy director academics Mehraj-ud-Din Zargar and four others for facilitating copying of the Minister’s son.
The report was submitted to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah by IGP Crime Branch Raja Aijaz Ali in the winter capital yesterday. Omar had forwarded the report to AICC president Sonia Gandhi as Peerzada is a Congress nominee in the council of ministers.
Crime Branch has in its report, according to sources, revealed that Peerzada
used his official position to help his son pass the examination. “Most of the BOSE officials during questioning revealed that there were directions from higher-ups to facilitate copying of Minister’s son,” CB report says.
The report said there were clearly two hand writings, confirmed by forensic experts, on three answer sheets of the Class 10 exam taken by the Minister’s son.
The answer scripts of Urdu paper were, as per probe, written by Mehraj-ud-Din Zargar while answer sheets of Mathematics and Geography were written by Imtiyaz Ahmad, an education department official who was posted as Deputy Superintendent at the said centre.
Imam Sauban, Peerzada Sayeed’s son, had passed his Class 10 exam in 2009.
As the controversy broke out, Chief Minister had announced an inquiry by the Crime Branch which carried out a detailed questioning of the BOSE officials.
Peerzada has been in the midst of controversies since 2004. Corruption watchdog State Accountability Commission (SAC) had indicted him for his “knee deep” involvement in the multi-crore rural electrification scam as the then Minister for Rural Development in the erstwhile PDP-Congress coalition Government led by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
In 2008, Peerzada had to resign from the post of Education Minister and from the president-ship of State Congress after the then MLA Sangrama, Shoaib Lone, alleged on the floor of the House that Peerzada took Rs 40,000 as bribe from him to clear his sister’s file.
Earlier, the BJP upped the ante on the issue with its president Nitin Gadkari expressing horror on the Minister “misusing” his position to see that his son cleared his examination using unfair means.
“This is absolutely wrong and condemnable and the Minister in question should resign,” he said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Gadkari said the Minister’s action was unethical. In an indirect attack on the Congress, he said that high levels of morality and probity in public life should be maintained by all.
The Communist Party of India has also demanded immediate removal of the State Education Minister. Senior CPI leader and MP D Raja told Greater Kashmir from Chennai that it was a serious matter and a clear cut case of abuse of power.
He demanded that the Minister should either resign or be sacked. “The beneficiary happens to be the son of the Minister. It also involves a serious question of morality and probity in public life,” he further said.
Responding to a query that a probe ordered by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has found the Minister guilty, he posed a counter question: “What action is he now going to take against the Minister?”
On the Congress maintaining a silence on the issue, he said the party should clarify and set the record straight on this issue. “Are they going to remove him or still supporting him, the public must know,” he added.

MUDDASIR ALI ADDS FROM SRINAGAR: With Crime Branch indicting Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed for his role in a case of unfair means involving his foster son, political parties earlier on Thursday demanded expulsion of the tainted minister from State Cabinet to send a clear message across the board.
Congress ally in the State Government, National Conference, said the case should reach “logical conclusion.”
“It seems Crime Branch has come out with genuine findings,” said senior National Conference leader Dr Mehboob Beg.
“The way Chief Minister has conducted himself speaks a lot about his intentions without saying anything,” responded Beg when asked whether State Government and Congress high command should take a final call on Peerzada’s resignation.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party said law must prevail and Peerzada should be asked to go.
“Here, unless people are kicked out they wouldn’t respect law or a moral call,” PDP Chief Spokesman Naeem Akthar told Greater Kashmir.
However, Akhtar said Peerzada has some colleagues around him with serious charges of corruption against them.
“And in a situation where even the Chief Minister is being probed by a Commission, for whatever is its worth, the likes of Peerzada can continue to show defiance,” Akthar added.
Opposition BJP is holding a protest in Jammu on Friday to seek Peerzada’s resignation. “He is not alone. His other colleagues from the party who are part of State Cabinet are too involved in corruption cases. They should also resign,” said BJP State president Shamsher Singh. The party will be holding protests at all the district headquarters in Jammu province.
Independent MLA Er. Rashid demanded that Peerzada should be arrested forthwith as CB has “proven him guilty.”
“Government’s failure to sack the tainted minister has laid it bare that it is powerless and could not take even small decisions on its own,” Rashid said. “Omar Abdullah has once again demonstrated that he is banking on dictations from New Delhi,” he said.
CPI-M leader MY Tarigami urged Government to make public the CB report regarding the copying case of the Education minister’s son.
“We want to know what the Government intends to do. We will seek action thereafter. The case has cast aspersions on functioning of the Board of School Education. People have complained that the exam centers are being virtually put on sale and money changes hands while appointing the supervisory staff. Keeping the sensitivity of the case and reputation of the Board in mind, Chief Minister is expected to take suitable action in the matter,” Targami said.
Civil society has too joined the chorus. The Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies has demanded an immediate resignation of Peerzada. In a statement issued today, the Center which is headed by Prof Hameeda Nayeem with Shakeel Qalander as its member, said the tainted ministers should resign on moral grounds.
“The worst part of the case is that chairman BOSE has been accomplice to this unpardonable crime,” it said.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 9 Feb 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 9 Feb 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 10 Feb 2012 00:00:00 IST




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