The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday sought to distance itself from the controversy about the Centre's decision to award the Padma Shri to Ghulam Mohammed Mir, a former militant.
As a controversy raged over the selection of a former militant for the prestigious award, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, "I am not aware of the state government making any recommendations. There is unfortunately a lot of controversy over this year's award".
"We had made some recommendations including that of Rukhsana (who had killed a militant) for bravery. But this is not our recommendation," said Omar.
However, sources in New Delhi said that Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Harsh Vardhan had recommended Mir for the award. Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Member of Legislative Assembly Ghulam Hasan Mir had also written letters in 2008 favouring him for the award.
Speaking on the controversy, Mir said, "My name has been mentioned in one FIR of a mine blast. The case has never been proved.
"But what I can prove with full documents is saving the lives of former minister Khemlata Wakhloo, former Member of Parliament Mir Magami and two foreigners, besides busting several militant hideouts," claims Mir, whose house in central Kashmir is guarded by one full company (100 personnel) of the Central Reserve Police Force.
Mir, whose brother and nephew were killed by militants to avenge his actions, said that the police certificate mentions that he had no role to play in militancy.
He said his son had been shot twice. "What hurts me today is that I stand as a culprit and am being asked questions about my contribution to the country."
When contacted, Habibullah said he had supported Mir's case for the Padma Shri as the latter had been a great support to him in his anti-militancy drive during his tenure as the divisional commissioner of Kashmir.
Habibullah was the divisional commissioner of Kashmir between February 1990 to June 1991 and between July to November 1993.
The CIC said that he had no issues in recommending Mir's name because of the services rendered by him. "I believe we all make recommendations. A proper background check is done before giving the award," he added.
Mir also named Girsih Chander Saxena and several former director generals of police of the state who had acknowledged his services in fighting militancy.