Anees ul Islam, who was appointed as Research Officer in Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Center (SKICC) of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department in the year 2016, was sacked over the weekend by the administration of the union territory. The appointment in itself was a matter of much debate and controversy owing to his secessionist family background and their role in the 2016 violent protests and agitation in Kashmir, better known as the Burhan Wani agitation, which had claimed over 100 lives besides destruction of public property worth crores.
CNN-News18 has now accessed a lengthy dossier on Anees and the activities of the Geelani family over the years, excerpts of which are being published on Tuesday.
The 2016 agitation had been the brainchild of Jamaat-e-Islami and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a notorious amalgamation of secessionists. The stated objective of these organisations has been the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India and its merger with Pakistan. Anees’s father Altaf Ahmad Shah (alias Altaf Fantosh) and maternal grandfather Syed Ali Shah Geelani were the chief proponents of this anti-India cartel.
Being staunch supporters of terrorism and separatism, the family members of Anees have proven culpability in abetting and facilitating terror-related activities on multiple occasions. “In simplistic terms, Anees and his family have always been at the forefront of anti-India activities in the Kashmir valley. Many of the violent protests in Kashmir that have led to hundreds of killings have been carried out at the behest of the family”, reveals a dossier exclusively accessed by CNN-News18.
Dossier on Geelani Family’s Terror Conspiracy
At least three close family members of Anees have been found actively involved in secessionism and terrorism, as per the contents of the dossier. The father of Anees, Altaf Ahmad Shah was among the first founder members of Islami Jamat-e-Tulba (IJT) J&K, the student wing of Jamat-e-Islami, and remained its Nazim-e-Zilla (district president) Srinagar.
Over some time with his “deep-rooted connections” in Jamat-e-Islami, he became one of the executive members of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat led by his father-in-law Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Anees’s father Altaf Ahmed Shah is presently lodged in the Tihar Jail in a terror funding case charge-sheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Jamat-e-Islami not only patronizes terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, a globally designated terror group but is also responsible for fomenting and sustaining terrorism in the valley through multiple cutouts. Through its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen, the Jamaat advocates and practices the use of violence for seceding Jammu and Kashmir from India. Although the group responsible for the recent spike in violence in the valley is The Resistance Front (TRF), which is believed to be an off-shoot of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), all the valley-based groups largely depend on the Jamaat and the Hizbul for their local logistics. The Jamat and Hizbul use coercion and fear as means to gain local support.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the maternal grandfather of Anees ul Islam and head of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat(G) was a hardcore secessionist who openly advocated the use of violence as means to secede Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India and its merger with Pakistan. Involved in over 100 FIRs across J&K for hate speeches, advocating violence and protests, delivering provocative speeches against the Indian establishment and security forces, calling for a boycott of elections to the democratic institutions of India and J&K, besides glamorizing terrorism. Geelani remained the face of violent Kashmiri separatism till the ISI sidelined him after the abrogation of Art. 370 in Aug 2019.
Turkey Terror Propaganda Connection
“Geelani’s granddaughter and the real sister of Anees, who is a journalist by profession is the multimedia heir of the separatist family,” as per the accessed dossier. “She writes for various international journals and also hosts the ‘Ruwa Shah Show’ broadcasted by South Africa based ‘Salaam Media’. “Through her show, Ruwa propagates false narratives against the Indian Government based on factually incorrect data.”
“Brought up in Kashmir under the largesse of Indian government and protection of state forces, Ruwa Shah has shifted base to Turkey from where she spearheads the anti-India narrative,” it further stated.
It may be pertinent to mention that a large number of anti-India Kashmiri activists have found shelter in Turkey since 2015, and Turkey has become the new epicenter of the narrative war against India. “Ruwa Shah played the victim card all this while, as her brother continued state patronage with full benefits of a government job in India. Ruwa Shah uses her media and social media skills through the gullible platforms to spread the ideologies of her father and grandfather.”
Why no action by Intelligence Agencies?
It is difficult to believe that a family with such strong secessionist antecedents and proven culpability in incidents of violence could so easily place themselves in government positions without the active support from within the system. The question that arises is: Why were there no red flags from the intelligence agencies?
Credible sources also confirmed that Anees before his appointment in the government service with a team of his “anti-India friends”, used to facilitate the operations of drones in and around Srinagar city to shoot law and order incidents and other events that could be used as content for anti-India propaganda by ISI. “Such activities of Anees indicate the hidden agenda of Anees being carried out on the behest of his close family members who were at the forefront of fomenting terrorism in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir,” said the dossier.
The clouds of suspicion on the security concern of Anees also can be weighed from the fact that his case of issuance of passport was “not recommended” by the state intelligence apparatus (CID) in 2008. However, taking advantage of the gaps and weaknesses in the system, Anees succeeded in his maneuvers and secured a passport on the orders of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir to visit foreign countries.
Ouster from the SKICC
According to sources, the appointment of Anees as a Research Officer in SKICC in 2016 was a matter of suspicion. “It could be ascertained that his appointment straightaway to a Gazette grade equivalent position in the Government funded and controlled SKICC was a deal to bring down violence during Burhan Wani agitation between the then politico-administrative framework and the Tehrik-e-Hurriyat leadership responsible for orchestrating and leading the violence. Geelani, being the head of the Tehrik, was believed to have entered into a Quid pro Quo with the then dispensation.”
As credible technical evidence against Anees remains a matter of confidentiality, the people of the country have a right to know the details of his transactions with the ISI and other anti-India activities. It is not a matter of coincidence that soon after his return from Pakistan, within weeks, Anees was appointed to a permanent public position fully funded by the government in a manner that has now been found out to be highly irregular and flouted established norms.
Investigative agencies have found that it was a premeditated decision to give the government-funded public employment to Anees is evident from several facts including that there was no urgency of filling in the post which was lying vacant since 2005 and no merit list, an absolute must in any selection proceeding, whatsoever, was prepared.
“Right from the start, that is, at the time of advertising the post, the process was rigged by avoiding to notify the scheme of examination or criteria of deciding merit. This is another basic minimum norm which is invariably followed by any selection committee or body,” the sources revealed.
“This is further evidenced by the fact that incomplete contravention of several judicial pronouncements that have crystallized the settled legal norm on how much weightage should be given to interview marks while deciding merit. Weightage given to interview marks were deliberately increased against laid out judicial norms 25 per cent (20 per cent to interview and 5 per cent to personality),” they further said.
It is also relevant to note that the position of Research Officer in SKICC which was handed over to Anees, is very sensitive. SKICC is the most prestigious convention and conferencing facility of the Jammu and Kashmir government which is used for very high-level meetings and conferences. It is sensitive from the viewpoint of the topics and subjects dealt during seminars, symposia, and workshops. It is also sensitive from the viewpoint of the VIPs under the high level of threat who attend the events. Only very recently the President of India presided over the convocation ceremony of the University of Kashmir at SKICC.
Can the responsibility of such an important government establishment be handed over to a person who has been deeply embedded in anti-India activities with Pakistan’s ISI?
Disclaimer:Aditya Raj Kaul is contributing editor with more than a decade long experience in covering conflict, foreign policy, and internal security.