The Central University of Kashmir was established in 2009. The website of the university proudly declares its mission and a host of objectives. One of the objectives is to pay special attention to the improvement of the social and economic conditions and welfare of the people, their intellectual, academic, and cultural development. How far Central University of Kashmir has fulfilled the stated mission and objectives is debatable. But in one role, the university has performed excellently. In serving the wishes and wants of former vice-chancellor Prof Mehraj-u-din and Registrar Prof M Afzal Zargar. Central University of Kashmir has served as an efficient vehicle to ensure luxuries and prosperity for the duo. If Prof Mehraj and Prof Zargar have their way, this happy arrangement will happily continue. Prof Zargar aspires to the vice-chancellor of the university. Prof Mehraj is turning all levers he can to make sure Prof Zargar gets the coveted chair.
Loot at Central University
The Anti Corruption Bureau has received a complaint from retired Urdu Professor, Prof Rashid Khan against Registrar Prof Afzal Zargar and former vice-chancellor Prof Mehraj-u-din Mir. The complaint alleges that both have extensively looted Central University. Insiders at the university say Prof Zargar actively collaborated with Prof Mehraj-u-din in building personal fortunes using the funds of Central University. Meanwhile, not even a single building worth the name has been constructed during their tenure.
As per the reports, with the active collaboration of Prof Zargar, Prof Mehraj has spent lakhs of rupees on the furnishing and renovation of his residence at Buchpora, Srinagar in the name of maintaining his private office there. Some of the items installed at his residence which have been funded by the university include air conditioners, generators, inverters, stabilizers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, gas heaters, UPS equipments, toasters, electric kettles, five sofa sets, carpets, curtains, geysers, solar panels, treadmills, dishes, printers, Laptops, PCs, Xerox machines, lockers etc.
ACB is probing the case. No FIR has been registered yet.
Former VC Formulated Assets Management Policy Two Weeks Before Term Expiry
Varsity Assets Worth Lakhs Used At His Residence Declared Not Traceable
Why did former vice-chancellor Prof Mehraj-u-din introduce the Assets Management Policy just two weeks before the expiry of his term, and that too without anybody’s approval. Was it introduced with the malafide intention to rob the university and siphon off the assets issued to him as vice-chancellor? Sources reveal that Prof Mehraj fraudulently declared some of the items issued to him as vice-chancellor as being “Not Traceable”. All these items have now been written off by the university or have been settled at a very nominal written-down value. For example, as per the NOC managed by Prof Mehraj in connivance with the Registrar, items like an iPad (Rs 49,500), Desktop (Rs 54,292), Printer (Rs 65,625), and Apple laptop (Rs 85,150) have been retained by Prof Mehraj either free of cost or at a very nominal price. This way, Prof Mehraj has conveniently pocketed assets worth several lakhs. One may recall that this is taxpayers’ money. The funds were allotted to the university for the education of students from this remote region. They have been used instead to enrich the former vice-chancellor and his coterie.
Construction Contracts, Outsourcing Services, Supply Orders Given To Relatives Of Prof Afzal Zargar
Sources reveal that most of the construction contracts, outsourcing services and supply orders have been executed through the relatives of the Registrar, particularly his brother and brother-in-law. PWD, NBCC and other central government agencies which had been engaged for these tasks earlier were directed to leave. Presumably they did not fall in line with the Registrar’s vision for the university. Crores of rupees have been paid to the contractors in the name of escalation cost and taken back from them in cash and kind. Private buildings were hired for offices, hostels and guest houses at exorbitant rents. The landlords of the buildings hired by the university and other parties/suppliers were made to pay huge sums in the name of CSR which was not accounted was later siphoned off. Even the newly-recruited employees were compelled to pay in the name of CSR in addition to other direct payments. A Finance Officer who raised objections to the fraudulent and corrupt practices and financial irregularities of the VC and Registrar was removed. Employees who questioned these irregularities were humiliated, harassed or suspended.
In conversation with KASHMIR CENTRAL regarding the embezzlement of university funds, Prof Mehraj said, “Who has made the complaints against me? Tell them to come in front. If the case has reached ACB (Anti Corruption Bureau), let them handle the case and come with evidence. If I have taken one crore, it is the ACB that is going to probe it”.
JAGIRS OF PROF ZARGAR
Sources reveal that courtesy the fortunes he made at Central University, Prof Afzal Zargar has purchased a huge plot of land at Ganderbal and flats at Delhi. He has constructed large houses at Bathindi in Jammu and Saderbal in Srinagar. The contractors and suppliers of the university have supplied all the material and equipment for these sites. Many university buildings were taken on exorbitant rent from Talib Hussain construction company, the largest construction company in J&K. Services of the same company were engaged for the construction of the house of Dr Asifa, the sister of Prof Zargar at Omer Colony, Lalbazar, Srinagar.
Sources reveal that the engineering staff, employees and security guards of the university are deployed at these construction sites. University insiders say that during the last seven years spent by Dr Zargar as the Registrar of Central University, not even a single building has been constructed on the university campus. According to reliable sources, many close relatives of Prof Zargar are working at Central University. In league with Prof Zargar, former vice-chancellor Prof Mehraj filled various teaching and non-teaching positions even during the Covid pandemic with his chosen people, courtesy of sham recruitment practice. Despite being a central university, the institution was kept out of bounds for meritorious external candidates, making a mockery of merit.
For the protection of the jagirs of both and to keep a lid on the scams at the university, Dr. Mehraj is actively pursuing that Prof Zargar is appointed as the new vice-chancellor.
In Contravention Of Rules, Prof Mehraj Appointed Prof Zargar As Registrar For Next 5 Years Month Before Demitting Office. In order to cover up his misdeeds, Prof Mehraj appointed his henchman Prof Zargar as the Registrar for next five years just one month before he was to leave the office. Sources reveal that this was done against the norms specified by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and University Grants Commission (UGC), including order No F.No.V.11014/11/04-CDN of MHRD. Government norms do not allow the outgoing VCs to make any appointment/promotions three month prior to the expiry of their term.
When KASHMIR CENTRAL asked Prof. Afzal Zargar about the complaints of corruption and nepotism against him, he said, “All these allegations are fabricated. There is no case and said I am not answerable to you for anything. Let the investigating agency do their work. It’s all fabricated and false.”
ACB and CBI Investigating the case
The Anti Corruption Bureau, J&K, and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are probing the charges of fraudulent appointments and financial irregularities by former vice-chancellor Prof Mehraj-u-din and Registrar Prof M Afzal Zargar in purchases and construction at the University. Sources reveal that UGC has asked the Ministry of Human Resource Development to conduct an enquiry and initiate action against the wrongdoers at the Central University. ACB has seized most of the records of the university. Twice ACB carried out raids at the residences of the university officials.
A higher police official wishing anonymity told KASHMIR CENTRAL, “we have registered a case against Prof. Afzal Zargar regarding malpractices that they have committed while hiring the buildings for the Central University and again withdrawing excessive amount from the government exchequer and presented bogus and fraud bills. There is another F.I.R against them in ACB for using sub-standard material for the construction of a university building. The ACB is also probing about the assets of Prof. Zargar because the ACB believes that he has accumulated more assets which are disproportionate from his known sources of Income”.
FIRs Against Prof Afzal Zargar
Corruption, Nepotism – the Buzz Words At CU
The Anti Corruption Bureau raided CU Registrar Prof Zargar’s residence on July 29, 2021. Two FIRs bearing No 16/2021 and 18/2021 stand registered in his name for his involvement in corruption at Central University. FIR 18/2021 is regarding embezzlement in hiring private buildings for offices and hostels at Srinagar without following codal procedures, paying rent when buildings were not in use, paying excess rent and getting it back for personal gain. On these charges, the residence of the Registrar was raided along with the residences of some other officers of the university.
ACB case against Engineers of CU Kashmir
In July 2021, Anti Corruption Bureau registered a case against some officers of CUK for malpractices in the execution of works at Central University of Kashmir, Ganderbal. CUK issued an e-tender in June 2017 for the construction of Academic Block at its campus in Tulmulla, Ganderbal. The tender was for Rs 4,40,41,780. ACB found that the specifications for the construction of the Academic Block had been changed without any information issued to the contrary by the university. The change compromised work quality at the Academic Block and resulted in loss of Rs 71.61 lakh to CUK.
The FIR was registered against Reyaz Ahmad Jeelani, then Executive Engineer (now retired), Syed Ahmad Gurkhoo, then JE, CUK, Ganderbal, Suhail Bashir, then JE CUK Ganderbal, proprietor of beneficiary firm M/S Granco Industries Limited Rajbagh, Srinagar, and others. ACB conducted searches at the CUK campus and also at the residences of the accused officials, and seized incriminating documents. Sources reveal that Prof Mehraj has so far managed to halt ACB’s efforts to reach him due to his political clout and local influence.