Srinagar, August 19: In a startling revelation, a senior employee of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Sajad Ahmad Bazaz, has been dismissed from his position following allegations of his involvement as a long-standing operative for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and terrorist outfits.
According to the sources, the investigators’ exposed connection underscores the depth of infiltration within JK’s premier institution, exposing a complex web of dual allegiances and subversion.
Bazaz, once a celebrated writer and communicator, had risen through the ranks within the bank’s hierarchy, all the while allegedly serving as a crucial asset for the ISI’s objectives and the agendas of terrorist groups.
Investigators reveal that the current bank management seemed to have no clue that Bazaz was one of the most important Pakistani assets, secretly working for ISI and terror Outfits. “After abrogation of article 370, the top investigators were probing links of deep ISI assets within the terror ecosystem and the Bazaz name popped up”.
Sources said after a month’s long painstaking investigation they were in for surprises. The investigators said that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz was planted in J&K Bank in 1990 by Pakistan ISI through Fayaz Kaloo, owner and the Editor of Greater Kashmir. Sajad’s appointment was on the post of Cashier-cum-Clerk.
“In 2004 he was suddenly given a jump to a position that was highly suspicious but it did not raise any eyebrows because of the then larger and deeper subversion in the system,” investigators revealed.
They said Sajad was an embedded asset of the terrorist-separatist networks working on behalf of ISI.
Sources also confirmed that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz while being a full-time employee of J&K Bank was also a full-timer with Greater Kashmir as a correspondent-cum-columnist.
Evidence collected by the agencies suggests that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz did not have honest intentions as a parallel employee of Greater Kashmir can be seen in the different names under which he wrote and published. Initially he used ‘Sajjad Ahmad’ as his pen name. He cleverly added one additional ‘j’ and also dropped his surname ‘Bazaz’. Later with passage of time he got emboldened when neither his employer nor the law of the land could take cognizance of his wrongdoings, Sajad added his surname and wrote under byline ‘Sajjad Bazaz’.
Investigators said they found almost all of his news stories and columns are centered around justifying and glorifying the secessionist-terrorist campaign in J&K.
“While some are subtle others are thinly veiled. Sajad through his ground reporting and opinion pieces published in his weekly columns titled ‘Off The Record’ and ‘What’s Up’ in Greater Kashmir, toed the Pakistani line of UN intervention in Kashmir, tripartite talks and human rights violations”.
Citing some of the write ups, investigators said Bazaz continued to peddle the Pakistani official line on Kashmir for tripartite talks instead of India’s stand of bilateral talks as per Shimla agreement Sajad wrote in his weekly column What’s Up in 2010.
They said Bazaz has authored numerous such write-ups and opinion pieces in Greater Kashmir that support the Pakistan ISI and Terror Outfits narrative on Kashmir.
“In yet another write-up in his weekly ‘What’s Up’ column, Sajad again dutifully serves the narrative of the adversary by questioning the genuineness of counter terrorist operations of Police and Security Forces, giving an impression as if all the operations against the terrorists have been fake,’ investigation further revealed.
“If there have been any aberrations which by virtue of inbuilt checks and balances of the state have been detected and action taken as per rule of law. However, he, like many other false narrative peddlers of the adversary, has been sowing the seeds of doubt to instigate people against the security forces”.
While exposing the recruitment of Bazaaz into J&K Bank, investigators revealed that he was lifted from the chair of a clerk to that of a gazetted equivalent post of Editor, specially created for him, sources said that on 20th October 2003, a proposal for creating a post of Editor in J&K Bank was placed before the Board of Directors of J&K Bank and was got approved.
“Even before the approval of the proposal by the Board, the bank had already four days before, by way of an internal communication on 16th October 2003 invited applications from the cadre of Cashier-cum-Clerks to apply for the newly created post of Editor,” they said in their report.
Official sources further revealed that the eligibility norms were tailored to bring in Sajad Ahmad Bazaz. “Firstly, the provision of a written test was waived off. Secondly, the catchment was restricted to the category of cashier-cum-clerk cadre to give an undue advantage to Sajad”.
Officials said, In itself, this is a matter of criminal investigation wherein an officer grade post was not advertised and opportunity was not provided to members of the general public to compete for the post.
“Thirdly, despite the best efforts to manipulate things in favour of Sajad, the adversary failed to erase footprints. Fourthly, the officer cadre employees having qualification of mass communication and journalism and who were superior candidates were kept out of competition.
Investigators found that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz in gross violation of this statutory provision is the only officer in the entire history of J&K Bank who was extended a silent concession.
“He till date has not passed any examination and yet has not only been absorbed in the general officers cadre but given three promotions by diverting posts from the general cadre to a ‘one man cadre’ only to benefit him”.
Officials further stated that despite open knowledge that Sajad was a full time employee of Greater Kashmir even when he was on the rolls of J&K Bank, the interview board comprising the then Chairman of the Bank M.Y Khan, Director Haseeb Drabu, Chief General Manager P.Z Lateef and Deputy General Manager M.A Shah selected Sajad from among a very small group of four on the basis of an interview.
“The Board also ignored that he was rabidly against the Indian state and an open secessionist. In this context, the stranglehold and penetration of the adversary into the J&K Bank is in itself a matter of comprehensive enquiry”.
They said the subsequent conduct of Sajad Ahmad Bazaz after having been placed in the chair of ‘Editor’ – a position specially created for him in J&K Bank further shows conspiracy and subversion.
He, empowered with the new authority, enriched select local newspapers and news magazines through payment of advertisement money drawn from the coffers of J&K Bank. He also used the opportunity to enrich himself.
Discreet investigation has revealed that Sajad who actually had been planted by the adversary in the current position in J&K Bank through Fayaz Kaloo was instructed from across the border to help in setting up additional media platforms that would amplify and echo the jehadi and Pak narrative already being propagated by Greater Kashmir in a far more vicious and vitriolic manner,” Sources said.
Investigators said the evidence of this is amply available when the circumstances in which Hayat Bhat set up ‘Kashmir Reader’ and ‘Kashmir Conveyor’ Haroon Reshi set up ‘Kashmir Narrator’ (news magazine) and Rashid Ahmad set up ‘Honour’ (news magazine). “There are two most striking common features of these news magazines / newspapers: firstly, any casual or cursory reading any of the pages of any of the issues would instantly reveal that the content is all about propaganda and secondly, all were supported by Sajad through channeling J&K Bank’s money by placing advertisements”.
“Hayat Bhat received Rs.2 crores from the ISI station head located in the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Sajad Bazaz helped in whitewashing this money through the channels of the J&K Bank where Hayat Bhat had accounts pertaining to his cover business of an advertising agency under the name and style of Helpline Advertising Services. A relevant trivia as per intelligence inputs, the Rs.2 crore that Hayat Bhat took was initially offered to Rashid Ahmad (a JeI ideologue, and former publicity chief of Hizbul Mujahideen). Rashid Ahmad developed cold feet in accepting this at that point of time,” Investigators said.
Intelligence inputs further reveal that Abu Qasim, a dreaded Pakistani LeT terrorist operating in South Kashmir in 2010-15 was enlisted by Hayat Bhat for supporting his interests against Fayaz Kaloo.
“This explains how and why Fayaz Kaloo despite being a far bigger weight in conventional sense losing this round to Hayat Bhat. The latter retained his control over the hoarding business. In this episode Sajad Ahmad Bazaz too sided with Hayat Bhat as most hoarding advertisements of J&K Bank went to Hayat Bhat”.
Investigators further stated that several terrorist outfits during the 1990s had placed their representatives in Press colony Srinagar, designated by them as ‘Publicity Chiefs’ like Rashid Ahmad as mentioned before and many such people disguised as journalists were actually active terrorists or important senior functionaries of terror outfits. Sajad Ahmad Bazaz worked shoulder to shoulder with such elements in Greater Kashmir for the common objective of popularizing and amplifying the pro-Pakistan narrative and spreading falsehood against the Indian state.
Investigators further revealed that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz owns and operates as many as 68 accounts within the J&K Bank alone.
“Sajad Ahmad Bazaz is a critical component of the overall terror ecosystem carefully nurtured by the ISI & terror outfits.
“Sajad Ahmad Bazaz is in frequent communication with another lynchpin of this terror ecosystem namely Shabir Hussain Buch of Srinagar (93xxxx5xx3). Shabir Buch is a known close associate of Mushtaq Latram, chief of Al-Umar terror outfit and a constituent member of UJC and a close associate of Masood Azhar, the JeM chief. Latram and Masood are operating from Pakistan. Shabir Buch’s connection with the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi has always been a matter of concern. He was one among the key facilitators in embedding Carin Jodha Fischer, an American citizen of German origin. After operating for about 10 years in J&K, her cover came to be blown as a deep asset of ISI subsequent to which she was deported forcibly, Investigation revealed.