Our society is not sensitive to writings based on facts. At the most the shortest response one is able to elicit from one’s readers is that it is a good article.
We have read in books of history that in olden days, kings, rulers and administrative authorities would move about incognito at night to look for themselves the condition of the people and find out their problems so that attempts would be made to solve them. Today we have highly advanced information technology, the print and electronic media. But despite knowing about the problems of the people through the media and other dependable sources our rulers are loathe to address the problems. Not only that, they express resentment and anger on such sections of media as expose them and bring to light corruption and bribery rampant in the administrative departments. The authorities would even embark on subjecting their critics to punitive measures by stopping paid advertisements to them.
Unfortunately even the educated people in the society are bereft of moral values. I happened to meet with a youth who was a law graduate. He told me that he was running some business and would like to amass something about five hundred crores of rupees and then fight election. He added that his maternal uncle lived in Nowhatta and he would fight election from that constituency because he could easily register the support of stone throwing youth in that locality.
This blurred my vision. What would be the thinking level of an illiterate of this society if educated persons thought in these terms? What is the result of this callousness? Food grains and other eatable items provided for the people living below poverty line are being black-marketed openly. An ordinary store keeper has become a millionaire. Recently in the course of a police swoop on the residences of some people in Budgam, 200 to 300 sterling gold coins were recovered from their possession. In one case, sugar worth 36 crores was seized by the police. But at the end of the day the enforcement authorities receive bribes commensurate with the amount of seizure. The culprits escape scot-free and not only that they are reinstated at their posts and in many cases they are even rewarded with promotions.
The police and vigilance establishment have the record of one store keeper of being the owner of 120 trucks and these are deployed to carry the food grains of the same department where he is employed and thus huge carriage amount is earned from the department. There seems a big nexus of officials from top to bottom in the Food Department and this encompasses even the bureaucrats to the level of directors and secretaries. This is the reason that there is no vigilance over the food grains meant for the people BPL but sold in open black market. Promotion and social recognition is usually commensurate with the size of bribery and corruption.
A new form of bribery has been devised lately. People are picked up on the pretext of involvement in hawala. Enforcement personnel claim to have picked them up with cash ranging from five to fifteen lakh rupees. But the actual amount seized from them is much higher and a good chunk is embezzled. After all why should we expect honesty only from the police department while the entire society has fallen a prey to corrupt practices?
A religion-abiding friend told me “that the Imam of the mosque in his locality was pilfering electric power. Despite admonishment the Imam would not rectify his behavior and finally the matter was raised in the mosque and my friend argued that if the Imam did not stop pilfering power, he had no right to continue to be the Imam of the mosque. Two days later he had stopped preaching in the mosque and leading the prayers.”
In another incident a man raised objection to the muezzin of his mosque against pilfering electric power. Thereupon about a dozen youth came to the support of the muezzin saying “that at least that much margin has to be given.” I am wonderstruck how we are trying to play jokes with a religion whose very foundation rests on truthfulness, honesty and integrity.
A few days ago a doctor in our locality tried to grab about two and a half marlas of state land falling vacant by the side of the road. He wanted to use it for the garage and thus had begun laying foundation by breaking the road. People in the locality strongly objected and did not allow him to raise the garage. I am surprised to find these things happening. Our holy prophet (PBUH) has said “that one who leaves the path wider will find his grave widened for him.” But we find the reverse happening. Educated people and some versed in religious education have illegally grabbed state land so much so the youth of this land are deprived of play grounds.
Bribes given and taken are not considered a vice anymore. The more money one amasses through bribery and illegal means the more social status he achieves. If an employee spends more than his salary his neighbours and acquaintances raise their eyebrow. But those who point their fingers at him are also corrupt. Almost every man raises his finger on the cabinet ministers of present government. In the previous Accountability Committee they are already subjected to enquiry. But rulers manage to paralyze such institutions. The Accountability Committee is in place for last three years with just one chairman and two members. Mr. R.P. Sethi, a retired judge of the Supreme Court was appointed its Chairman. What were the reasons for which he resigned would better be found out from him. The state government is unable to find out a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court or two retired judges of the state high court so as to constitute the Accountability Committee. Some knowledgeable sources even say that the government is not at all interested in constituting such a committee because complaints of corruption are already registered with the Accountability Committee. This is good riddance for the government. In this way there will be no accountability for any officer in the state.
Let me recount an interesting story of bribery. The M.D. of Handicrafts Department managed embezzlement of crores of rupees. He proposed a plan of exhibition of Kashmir Art in Los Angles (USA), Dubai, Paris and a few other foreign countries. He showed expenditure on this plan in crores of rupees. The Department had some doubts about these expenditures and an honest officer of Vigilance Department called for the passports of all those persons whose names had been shown as part of the team by the MD on visit to the countries where exhibition was set up. Nine out of ten such persons were non-state subject. The one who was a state subject stated that he had not participated in any of the exhibitions. Documents produced showed that the cargo and the tickets were booked through Lufthansa Airlines were all fake. The receipts of payments made as rent for the stalls in different exhibitions in different countries, too, were false. The M.D. neither sent any material for exhibition outside the country nor was any person deputed to be part of the exhibition plan. Actually no exhibition ever took place. The department was defrauded of crores of rupees. After finding that this was a big fraud, the Vigilance department registered two cases against the M.D. The present government, instead of taking disciplinary action against the M.D. showed its munificence to him and gave him two years of extension in his service. When fraudulent officers are being patronized by the government, where is the space for honest and upright officers?
In another case, I know a person in possession of Hill Driving License. He does not know even to ride a bicycle, leave aside driving a car or a big vehicle or a truck. As I was scripting this story, an employee in my office barged in saying that he too had a driving license while he did not know driving at all.
This shows that the resent government has failed totally in all spheres of life like administration, development, education, employment and etc. Instead of solving the problems of people the ministers are busy keeping their chairs intact.
For some time in the past we have seen assembly members hurling microphones on one another, throwing chairs and making grave accusations against one another, raising hue and cry and disrupting the proceedings of the assembly. They do it all for themselves and nothing is done that would serve the interests of the masses of people. Amusingly the bill for salary and perks hike for the assembly members was passed just in a huff without any finger raised and without any chair hurled. Members in both the houses were united on pay hike. It did not cross their minds that people working as S.P.O or Angan Wari or pensioners are getting anything between 400 to 2000 rupees a month. If the bill allowing assembly members 80,000 rupees a month was passed in a huff, they should have thought about these petty workers also how they can make both ends meet with their paltry income?
Condition of roads
The chief Minister said somewhere that “Srinagar and Jammu are the face of the State.” I wonder if he has taken note of the condition of roads in the city of Srinagar. There are pot holes anywhere you walk. Just look the roed from Gupkar to Salimar,every wher is Pot holes.There is water clogging. Rain water could have been drained into the Dal lake through installing R C pipes. The engineers are almost bereft of thinking power and initiative. Wherever you look instead of gravel, earth filling is made. If this Srinagar is the face of Kashmir, we pray God Almighty never give this face to any community.
The simple question is where are we heading to? Our kids see their parents or brothers or elders hooking the electric wire for pilferage, or they see those taking bribes or indulging in other illegal activities: they will be thinking where we are headed to. What respect will they have for their elders? Is it not that our generation is going astray because we are losing honesty and truthfulness?
Maulana Showkat’s assassination was indeed assassination of humanity. One who becomes a murderer is in fact a beast in the shape of a man. After this assassination many political parties made loud claims. They recounted the late Maulana’s words of forging unity. For the first time the separatists constituted a Commission to identify the murderers. I wish this Commission had been constituted earlier to identify the murderers of innocent people in Kashmir. If the truth had been uncovered perhaps Maulana Showkat’s life would have been spared. As far as unity is concerned, its first casualty was Maulana Abbas Ansari. If I stretch further this discourse, I can also be subjected to a bundle of accusations. Let me conclude with this profound verse of Iqbal:
"Khudvanda yeh tere sadeh dil bande kahan jayen
Kih darveshi bhi ayyari hai sultani bhi ayyari"
This article was published in "Daily Greater Kashmir" on 3rd May 2011.