Pakistan spy agency’s ‘deep asset’ sacked by J&K Bank

Sajad Ahmad Bazaz wrote newspaper columns supporting Pakistan’s stance & operated 68 accounts within J&K Bank

| Updated: 20 August, 2023 8:04 pm IST
He joined as a clerk and was later absorbed in the general office cadre without appearing in the required exam.

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Bank has terminated a senior employee after an investigation by the J&K Criminal Investigation Department (CID) revealed he was a “deep asset” of Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Chief manager Sajad Ahmad Bazaz was strategically positioned in the J&K Bank to advance the agenda of the terrorist-separatist network in Kashmir, the probe found.

He was placed in the bank by the ISI in 1990 through Fayaz Kaloo, the owner and editor of Greater Kashmir, according to a report published in a national daily.

Bazaz was initially appointed as a cashier-cum-clerk and subsequently elevated to the position of chief manager, internal communication – a gazetted equivalent post to editor – at J&K Bank, a government-owned public sector institution. Sources in the CID told the newspaper that he is the only officer in the history of J&K who was absorbed in general offices category and given three promotions without having passed the required tests.

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While being a full-time employee of J&K Bank, Bazaz reportedly worked as a correspondent-cum-columnist for Greater Kashmir. His contributions were predominantly aligned with justifying and glorifying the secessionist-terrorist movement in J&K. These writings, published under his columns “Off The Record” and “What’s Up,” subtly or overtly endorsed the Pakistani stance on UN intervention in Kashmir, tripartite talks, and human rights issues.

Investigative agencies gathered evidence indicating that Bazaz employed various pen names to mask his true identity in his articles. He initially signed as ‘Sajjad Ahmad’, subsequently altering it to ‘Sajjad Bazaz’ by adding a letter and omitting his surname.

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He also directed substantial advertisement funding from J&K Bank to select local newspapers and magazines, including Greater Kashmir.

Between 2015 and 2023, Greater Kashmir received an unusually high and favorable share of advertisement allocations compared to other newspapers with similar reach and circulation. There was also evidence suggesting that Bazaz was directed from across the border to establish additional media platforms that aligned with the jihadi and Pakistani narrative.

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He maintained as many as 68 accounts within J&K Bank alone. He was found to be in regular communication with another suspected ISI terror asset, Shabir Bukhari, and Shabir Hussain Buch, who has links to the terror ecosystem in J&K.

After constitutional changes in J&K, the government has been actively pursuing a programme to identify separatist elements and terror enablers within the J&K government. Over the years, Hundreds of employees have been dismissed from service for their involvement in anti-national activities.

Government investigations have found gross irregularities in the appointment of a majority of such employees who are infamously known as “political appointees” in the Valley.

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