Their identity continues to be a well-guarded secret but ex-Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Board of Professional Entrance Examination (JKBOPEE) Prof. Mushtaq Ahmed Peer who recently came out of prison was backed by powerful lobby of National Conference (NC) and Congress leaders.
Peer was put behind the bars for being kingpin of BOPEE scam. Such was the influence wielded by Peer that an ex-Chief Minister alongwith his staff and colleagues was one of the special invitees in the marriage ceremony of Peer’ daughter.
Not only was he special invitee but he was seen in Hotel Nageen on two occasions during the marriage ceremony. According to eyewitnesses, the ex-CM’s coterie was seen exchanging warm hugs with Peer with promises and pledges of taking care of his future plans. A senior Congress leader had even put government under pressure them to appoint Peer as Vice-Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Awantipore.,
Backed by two top Congress and NC ministers, sources maintain that it was this coterie which gave a long rope to Prof. Mushtaq Ahmed Peer despite complaints of corruption and wrongdoings pouring in CM’s secretariat on regular basis. This coterie would dismiss every complaint as propaganda against Peer by vested interest. Even credible newspaper reports were dismissed as blackmail for getting advertisements.
In reply to every query raised by GAD or Chief Secretary’s office over the newspaper reports, sources confirm that Peer would write lengthy notes about how he was allegedly being blackmailed by some newspaper owners for getting advertisements. They maintain that Peer would often feed civil secretariat with ‘fantastic stories’ of him having resisted extraordinary political as well as media pressure vis-à-vis selections of candidates in CET and BED.
Peer, who had been facing serious allegations of nepotism and wrongdoing in Kashmir University (KU), was appointed to head prestigious BOPEE by a notification issued by GAD on February 28, 2009 in consonance with Govt order no.GAD (Ser) Gen/190/2008. He was then working as Professor in the Department Of Computer Sciences in the University of Kashmir, where sources maintain that he had facing serious allegations of having purchased computers from his home town, laying of third grade cable for internet services and having facilitated his wife in writing a M.Phil paper of Physics.
According to University sources, Peer never enjoyed a good reputation in the University yet he was chosen to head BOPEE. They added that it was primarily because of two ministers, one from NC and other from Congress. They further said that these two ministers got their due from Peer, when their close kith and kin managed seats both in MBBS and in the PG entrance examination. B.Ed connection of Peer is also believed to be fishy and filled with loopholes, said the sources.
Such was Peer’s importance in BOPEE that state government found not even one academician from the army available with it to replace him after his two year mandatory tenure was over on March 17, 2011. He was re-appointed as Chairman for a period of one year vide Govt. order no: GAD (Ser) Gen1/190/2008 from the date of expiry of his term i.e. on March 17, 2011. If the official sources are to be believed, this was the tenure when frequency of complaints against Peer had increased.
However, sources add that political backing coupled with ‘goody-goody’ image which the then CM had of Peer led the then to ex-Commissioner/Secretary GAD vigorously taking up issue of giving another 3 month extension to Peer. They maintain that the then GAD secretary issued a notification on March 16, 2012 extending the term of peer for another three months from the date of expiry of his term i.e. 17-03-2012 or till the new chairman is appointed.
Once Peer’s fresh term expired in August 2012, political influence coupled with bureaucratic blessings led to cabinet decision no. 217/34/2012 dated 6-12-2012 on the basis of which Prof. Mushtaq Ahmad Peer was appointed as ‘Consultant’ on contract basis for a period of two years for fast tracking of recruitment to non-gazetted categories. This order was issued on December 13, 2012. This is exactly three months after he had demitted the office of Chairman BOPEE.
However, government reversed its decision on November 11, 2013 when Peer was found to have sold BOPEE to thugs and thieves, desirous of seeing their children qualify Common Entrance Test (CET) with flying colours. His appointment was cancelled vide Government Order No.1551-GAD of 2013. However, nothing is being said or heard about the bureaucrats and politicians who ensured Peer’s continuity in the board of professional entrance examination.