Srinagar, Aug 19: The Jammu and Kashmir Bank on Saturday terminated the services of a chief manager for allegedly being a "threat to the security of the nation." According to the officials, the dismissed chief manager has been identified as Sajad Ahmad Bazaz and his services were terminated with immediate effect, they added.
An official order issued by J&K Bank, reads that the undersigned is satisfied after considering the facts and circumstances of the case contained in the report received from credible agencies, that the activities of Sajad Ahmad Bazaz, Chief Manager, Code no. 4484 posted at Internal Communication and Marketing Department are such as to warrant his dismissal from service under Rule/Provision.
“Whereas the undersigned is satisfied under Rule/Provision 12.29 in OSM that in the interest of the security of the State, it is not expedient to hold an enquiry in the case of Sajad Ahmad Bazaz, Chief Manager, Code no. 4484. Accordingly, I hereby dismiss Sajad Ahmad Bazaz, Chief Manager, Code no. 4484 from service, with immediate effect,” the order reads.
In a startling revelation, investigations have exposed the deep-seated infiltration of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and terrorist outfits within the administrative machinery of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Bank. Sajad Ahmad Bazaz, a former head of internal communication at the bank, has been identified as a pivotal asset working on behalf of these covert forces. Despite his role within the bank and as a correspondent-cum-columnist for the influential newspaper Greater Kashmir, Bazaz skillfully propagated the narrative of secessionism and terrorism in the region.
Sources further revealed that the investigation has since unveiled, his career trajectory had been carefully orchestrated by the ISI and those aligned with the separatist-terror narrative. By 2004, he had ascended to the influential position of Head of Internal Communication within the bank. It is the specifics of this trajectory that have left bank management stunned, as Bazaz's covert activities had gone completely undetected.
Sajad Ahmad Bazaz 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. The following tell-tale aberrations underline that his appointment to the post of Editor was part of a subversion: 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. 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. 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 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. In the original scheme of things a requirement had been put in: the candidate should have publications pertaining to banking and finance. Sajad at the time of his selection had none to his credit. (He wrote some article on this much later to cover up). Fourthly, the officer cadre employees having qualification of mass communication and journalism and who were superior candidates were kept out of competition (it is mentionable that qualification of mass communication and journalism was made a criteria for selection to this post of Editor). Fifthly, and importantly a statutory rule (Rule No.323) of the bank pertaining to Officers Recruitment, Discipline, Conduct and Appeal Rules-2000 was completely ignored. The rule stipulates that direct recruitment of officers outside the normal cadre in the junior management grade for possessing any special knowledge or qualification not available in the bank officers service if made by the competent authority directly out of candidates possessing such special knowledge or qualification if are to be absorbed in the normal cadre of officers service shall be mandatorily required to pass CAIIB examination. 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 this 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.
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. 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. It is relevant to mention that he owes his selection and placement as Editor in the bank to a clique and coterie, of which he eventually became an important member, who had infiltrated into the governmental system to further the secessionist-terrorist campaign at the behest of Pakistan ISI. He also used the opportunity also to enrich himself. It is astounding that the management ignored the open clash of interest wherein an employee of Greater Kashmir was also an employee of J&K Bank and in the capacity of the latter he was benefiting Greater Kashmir by sanctioning advertisement money. “The data pertaining to advertisement money paid from financial year 2015 to 2023 shows that Greater Kashmir has got disproportionately a higher and favourable allotment than all others including newspapers at par with it in terms of reach and circulation. It is very relevant to bring on record that in and around 2010-12 there was a sudden spurt of rabidly pro-Pakistan news magazines and newspapers other than Greater Kashmir. Discreet investigation has revealed that this is in a major way attributable to Sajad Ahmad Bazaz. What really happened is 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. Actually each of these projects received seed money to start the venture from Pakistan. “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. It is relevant to bring on record that in brazen violation of rules and norms typically seen in scores of cases where the interests of the terrorist-separatist networks were involved, the governmental financial support to media platforms conditional to clearance of DIPR empanelment, all these news magazines and newspapers mentioned above obtained financial support from J&K Bank without having been empanelled by DIPR. Question is: how did these news magazines and newspapers functioned without DIPR assistance. The answer is: Sajad Ahmad Bazaz who opened up the coffers of J&K Bank. Interestingly, as would happen in real life, jealousy and rivalry broke out between the elements within the terror ecosystem over who is more close to Pakistan and also who would corner the spoils of the proceeds of the businesses that came to be owned during the course of the terrorist-secessionist campaign. Fayaz Kaloo ran into Hayat Bhat over advertisement hoarding and billboard business which they had come to own with the support of the adversary and the leverage the adversary had within the local government.
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 publish. Initially he used ‘Sajjad Ahmad’ as his penname. 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’. Additional evidence connecting him with Greater Kashmir is also available wherein Greater Kashmir had allotted an official e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Bazaz's association with the terrorist-separatist networks goes back to 1990 when he was allegedly planted in J&K Bank by the ISI through Fayaz Kaloo, the owner and editor of Greater Kashmir. Starting as a Cashier-cum-Clerk, Bazaz's rapid promotions within the bank were viewed with suspicion by investigators, ultimately leading them to uncover his dual role as a Pakistani asset, reveals the investigation.”
"In his columns for Greater Kashmir, Bazaz unabashedly advanced the ISI's agenda, glorifying the secessionist-terror campaign in J&K," revealed investigators. They highlighted how his writing systematically supported Pakistan's narrative on UN intervention in Kashmir and rejected bilateral talks as outlined in the Shimla Agreement.
Moreover, Bazaz's ascent from a clerk to a specially-created Editor position within the bank raised significant questions. Despite failing to meet several eligibility criteria, he was granted this role, indicating a carefully orchestrated subversion of normal procedures. His dual roles within the bank and Greater Kashmir allowed him to channel funds to newspapers that further propagated the same pro-Pakistan and anti-India narrative.
Bazaz's extensive connections with other elements of the terror ecosystem also came to light. He was reportedly associated with individuals who operated as terrorists and propagandists simultaneously, effectively blurring the lines between journalism and insurgency. His intricate connections extended internationally, even allegedly aiding the establishment of pro-Pakistan media platforms in Europe.
The investigators revealed that “Several terrorist outfits during 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 camouflaging as journalists were actually active terrorists or important senior functionaries of terror outfits.”
In a stunning revelation, it has come to light that Sajad Ahmad Bazaz operated an extensive network of 68 accounts within the bank alone, adding a new layer of intrigue to his already exposed role as a pivotal asset of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, and various terror outfits. As this revelation unfurls, another figure steps onto the scene—Shabir Bukhari—a name intricately linked to terror elements in Pakistan. Bukhari, maintaining direct communication with those orchestrating terror activities from across the border, appears to be an essential cog in this complex terror machinery.
Shabir Bukhari is communicating with the adversary through Manzoor Hussain Peer (cell No.84xxx0xx6). Manzoor Peer is directly in touch with Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leadership. Shabir Bukhari is also in touch with ISI through user of mobile number 80xxx5xxx8 who in turn speaks to the user of mobile number 99xxx0xxx6 (administrator of a WhatsApp group of terrorists operating under banner of ‘Kashmir Front’. The conversations are through VoIP based end-to-end encrypting messaging service called Telegram. It is relevant to note that just as Shabir Bukhari is the second most contacted person of Sajad Bazaz, Shabir Bukhari’s most contacted person after his wife is Sajad.“Sajad Ahmad Bazaz is a critical component of the overall terror ecosystem carefully nurtured by the ISI & terror outfits. And the most defining feature of this ecosystem is to try and maintain an air-gap (by layering) between gun wielding terrorists and the entire paraphernalia that supports and protects these terrorists in a variety of ways. These include creating and providing popular legitimacy through a combination of the fear of gun and propagation of false narrative, obstructing and subverting rule of law through bar associations and advocates when the law enforcement attempts to book them and take the matter to legal conclusion, arrange strategic logistics such as finances and tactical logistics such as SIM cards, phones, transport, food, medical attention, hideouts, information about law enforcement agencies and security forces, parallel intelligence network to identify and kill all those who try to expose the terrorists and their ecosystem. 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.
Execerpts from his write up in 2010, where he exhorted upon the United Nations to play a pro-active role in Kashmir. Sajad writes: “Instances galore where nations have suffered and some continue to suffer at the hands of mighty global powers well under the nose of United Nations Organisation and this is what has marred the credibility of this global forum. Most of the nations, particularly the weak nations have lost faith on the organisation, as it is viewed today as an extended arm of power of mighty nations like US and others. The only role United Nations has played is to keep Kashmir imbroglio alive. Even after six decades, the UN has failed to see an end to the conflict. Kashmir conflict was among the first crisis that the United Nations had to confront in the post-World War I period. In the first 17 years of the conflict (from 1917 to 1961), the U.N was proactively involved in the process of seeking resolution of the conflict. But after the Indo-Pak war of 1965, the U.N's involvement surprisingly fell down. It completely ended its involvement with the signing of the Shimla Agreement in 1972- a peace agreement signed between India and Pakistan after the 1971 war. The Shimla Agreement laid emphasis on a bilateral framework to solve the Kashmir issue. By virtue of this agreement, it was not only the United Nations, which was kept out of the picture, but ironically people of the J&K State also lost their relevance as a party to the dispute. Notably, the U.N Security Council had passed 23 resolutions on Kashmir between 1948 and 1971 in which 18 resolutions acknowledged the right to self-determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Sajad Ahmad Bazaz in this write up is conveying three things. Firstly, he is angrily calling upon UN to intervene in Kashmir. Secondly, while doing so, he is categorizing Kashmir as an independent nation albeit a weak one. Thirdly, he unabashedly rejects the Shimla agreement because it has diluted the right to self-determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir. This is typical Hurriyat’s and Pakistan’s current public stance. It is absolutely untenable for an employee of an entity funded and owned by government like JK Bank to openly preach and practice secessionism. Continuing to peddle 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. “Even as Government of India used all its defence tactics to suppress the separatist movement, it failed to bury the separatist sentiment and initiated armless tactics to woe locals for peace. In the last two decades of turmoil, we have witnessed appointment of working groups, committees, interlocutors etc. by the government of India to contain the element of anti India fever which yielded no results but kept the kettle boiling. So far, dialogue process was never broadened, proved only ornamental exercise and was confined to 'selected and tutored groups of India.” The above lines without mincing words reveals what Sajad believes in and is propagating: no matter how hard the Indian state tries in pacifying, accommodating, cajoling, it will never succeed in its mission in Kashmir. Concluding the above article, Sajad calls for involvement of USA as a third party in Kashmir dispute which again is a discourse popularised by the Pakistan to keep the flame of violence burning in J&K. Sajad Ahmad Bazaz writes: “Obviously, there are many approaches, but it is the matter of unlocking from the positions they have locked themselves into. People here too have a crucial role as they will have to pressure their negotiators to think more creatively. And this all is possible under the umbrella of third party, which is none other than US. Let us hope that the year 2010 does not bring a sense of terror and persecution in the Kashmiri psyche.” Sajad in an article dated 13th July 2008 titled ‘Vohra’s challenges – will new governor prove himself as a change for better’: In consideration of disputed nature of Kashmir and its proximity to neighbouring countries Pakistan and China, the appointment of governor for J&K has been a national security issue for India. This coveted post in the state has been most of the time held by former military or intelligence personnel with a background that they possessed hatred at least for Pakistan, which has been advocating Kashmiris cause of self-determination. During the course of this hatred, these governors have been implementing agendas which have been most of the time put people of the state at the mercy of military, paramilitary and police personnel; and ultimately leading gross human rights violations. He has authored numerous such write-ups and opinion pieces in Greater Kashmir that support the Pakistan ISI and Terror Outfits narrative on Kashmir.
Sajad in an article dated 13th July 2008 titled ‘Vohra’s challenges – will new governor prove himself as a change for better’: In consideration of disputed nature of Kashmir and its proximity to neighbouring countries Pakistan and China, the appointment of governor for J&K has been a national security issue for India. This coveted post in the state has been most of the time held by former military or intelligence personnel with a background that they possessed hatred at least for Pakistan, which has been advocating Kashmiris cause of self-determination. During the course of this hatred, these governors have been implementing agendas which have been most of the time put people of the state at the mercy of military, paramilitary and police personnel; and ultimately leading gross human rights violations. He 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. 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. Sajad writes: “The inhumane law called Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has played an important role behind the business of fake encounters. The criminals in security agencies are widely using this law to cover up their illegal actions against innocent people. According to International people's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice more than eight thousand people are missing during last two decades of separatist movement in Kashmir. The people killed in fake encounters and in police custody are usually buried in mass graves near Army and Police camps. A few years back, 2,700 unmarked graves were found in the villages containing three thousand bodies.” The false flag of ‘mass and unmarked graves’ has been used by the Pakistani state and ISI to vilify the security forces and the Indian state locally, nationally and internationally. Tens of hundreds of Pakistani origin terrorists affiliated with dreaded terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Badar etc have got killed in hundreds of encounters on LoC and in the hinterland whose dead bodies have been buried in several graveyards. Since there have been no takers of these dead bodies of these unknown foreign terrorists who operated under code names it has been impossible to put names on their graves. This has been extensively highlighted by Pakistan internationally with the help of its proxies in J&K. Sajad Ahmad Bazaz is a prominent Pak proxy in this effort.
Intelligence inputs show 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 as to how and why Fayaz Kaloo despite being a far bigger weight in conventional sense loosing 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 advertisement of J&K Bank went to Hayat Bhat.
Sajad Ahmad Bazaz worked shoulder to shoulder with such elements in Greater Kashmir for the common objective of popularizing and amplifying pro-Pakistan narrative and spreading falsehood against the Indian state. One such example is that of Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmad aka Sheen Meem Ahmad originally from Lal Bazaar, Srinagar, who along with Late Advocate Ghulam Nabi Hagroo (a JeI ideologue and one of the founders of HM terror outfit) and Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom drafted Hizbul Mujahideen Penal Code (Tazizaat-e-Hizbul Mujahideen), which would be put in operation by HM terrorists to punish innocent civilians on pretext of violating this code and also so called Islamic code of conduct (sharia), meaning death penalty.
Many self-styled judicial authorities (Shariat-boards) owing allegiance to JeI/HM came up in the length and breadth of Kashmir valley to enforce HM’s Penal Code imposing brutal penalties on innocent citizens. Sheikh Mukhar Ahmad while being affiliated with HM outfit running its propaganda wing Hizb Media Centre, was working as a staffer of Greater Kashmir.
Another such entity working in Greater Kashmir those days was Pakistani trained HM terrorist Lateef Bhat of Kadipora, Anantnag who was also affiliated with HM and its propaganda cell and worked for Greater Kashmir on behalf of HM outfit from Srinagar as well as from Pakistan occupied J&K filing stories for Greater Kashmir from Pakistan with the byline ‘Abdul Latief’. The duo as per available intelligence records was duly supported by Sajad Bazaz who had formed a very close group,” revels investigators.
Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmad and Lateef Bhat both escaped from India, managing passports in lieu of money with Sheikh presently based in London and Malik in Brussels. Both continue to peddle anti-India narrative and are very important assets of ISI in Europe.
Sajad Ahmad Bazaz has been widely known to be a close associate of both of them and the trio had formed a small group often been seen together working, living and dining. He has also been a close associate of Zaheer-ud-Din, who worked as Associate Editor for Greater Kashmir and is publicly known as pro-Pakistan strong man in journalism having written volumes of propaganda material against India.
Additionally, investigators unveiled his close ties with Shabir Bukhari, who has direct communications with terrorist groups operating from Pakistan. This network serves as a critical link between the terrorists and their support systems, creating an intricate web that sustains their operations.
These revelations underline the challenges of combating the insidious infiltration of terror networks within institutions. The J&K Bank's unwitting harboring of a Pakistani asset is a stark reminder of the need for rigorous vetting and monitoring mechanisms to protect against such subversion.