‘Unruly’ scenes mar Shiv Khori Shrine Board meeting

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Jan 31: Unruly scenes were witnessed in the meeting of Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board with one of its members raising objections over the presence of district officers and using some uncalled for remarks against them despite the fact that they were invited by none else than the Chairman of the Board. Feeling insulted by the member, District Development Commissioner supported by all the officers and Member Legislative Assembly from Reasi, Baldev Raj Sharma walked out of the meeting prompting its cancellation.
Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Shantmanu had called the meeting of Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board in his capacity as Chairman of the Board at his office yesterday evening. Besides members of the Board, he had also invited district level officers of various departments keeping in view some important developmental issues to be taken up for discussion and decision.
Sources said that when the Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Reasi, who is Secretary of the Shrine Board, was making presentation on the activities being carried out by the Board, Advocate B S Slathia, member of the Board objected to the presence of district officers and remarked, “the servants of the Shrine Board are not required to attend the Board meeting”.
“How the Board can take the policy decisions and discuss the inefficiencies of certain officers in their presence”, sources said quoting Mr Slathia’s remarks in the meeting, adding “Mr Slathia even said that Chairman should have either convened separate meeting of the district officers or not invited them to Board meeting”.
Feeling insulted over the use of word ‘servants of the Board’ by Mr Slathia, District Development Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary  stood up in protest and staged walk-out. He was followed by all the district officers, who too left the meeting, sources informed, adding even the MLA Reasi, Baldev Raj Sharma staged walk-out in support of the DDC and other officers.
Though office of Divisional Commissioner tried its level best to persuade at least MLA, who was special invitee, and DDC to attend the Board meeting yet on moral ground they didn’t return. This led to the cancellation of the meeting, sources said, adding it has now been decided that the Chairman would convene meeting at Ransoo, the base camp of Shri Shiv Khori Shrine on February 5.
When contacted, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Shantmanu confirmed that B S Slathia had the objection over the presence of district officers in the meeting on certain grounds. He, however, refused to reveal more about the reason behind cancellation of meeting.
MLA Reasi, Baldev Raj Sharma, when approached, said, “I staged walkout in support of the DDC and district officers. There should have been no objection on their presence when they were invited by none else than Chairman of the Shrine Board”, adding “after all the decisions of the Board have to be implemented by the officers of the concerned departments”.
Citing the example of District Development Board meetings, he said, “the DDB meetings are not only attended by its members but by senior officers of all the departments. Similarly, the objective behind inviting the officers was to ascertain the progress of the developmental issues and pass further directions”, the MLA said.
He stressed that in the future meetings of Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board the officers of concerned departments must be invited and this should not be made an issue by any of the Board members.
When contacted, Advocate B S Slathia said, “I had objected to the presence of district officers as certain policy decisions warrant discreet discussion. There was no justification behind inviting them and making them privy to discussion on important issues”. “How could misconduct of certain officers be discussed in front of them”, he added.
In reply to a question, he said, “Chairman had not conveyed the Board members that he was also inviting the District Officers otherwise I would have objected to the same prior to the convening of the meeting”.