The whole of India has united under the leadership of Anna Hazare against corruption. Crowds coming on the streets raise cries of implementing Jana Lokpal Bill. Indian government seems to be on the horns of dilemma. Reverberations of this movement are felt in the State also. Bribery is rampant in the State. Forests are destroyeed and capitalists have built hotel complexes and tourist huts illegally on forest land. Sections of bureaucracy vested interest and a general loot of state property is perpetrated.
We have been able to collect some facts about this depredation. Since many cases of corruption that we bring under purview are subjudice, therefore, we desist from disclosing relevant names. But these people are well connected with some high placed bureaucrats, mainstream-politicians and separatist-politicians. A few cases are mentioned here.
(1) One capitalist who owns a couple of hotels, managed to inject poisonous injections into pine trees in Pahalgam forest. The injections were imported from Australia . It kills the trees by the poison it contains. As the trees become dead, he got them inspected by forest authorities and got the orders issued for felling the diseased trees. Forest department functionaries are part of this conspiracy.
(2) Despite stay order from the High Court, this capitalist has illegally built 21 huts during six months in the past. The grapevine has that in connivance with the Police and some functionaries of Pahalgam Development Authority; concoction material for the sites is transported in the trucks of these two departments.
(3) A report of a Joint Committee of the High Court comprising three Session Judges and some Administrators was presented to the Chief Justice who acted against this person under Contempt rule.
(4) One more case of bribery has come to the notice of the High Court. A top officer of PDA helped his close relatives and friends purchase land within Green Belt. Later on the area was declared Permissible Area with which many hotels and huts sprang on it.
(5) A person closely related to a top officer of PDA, who owns a private hotel also and who figures in the sex scandal judgment also, illegally built a tourist village on Non Permissible Area. The title has been made in the name of his wife. A case against this Tourist Village is also pending with the High Court.
(6) One NC MLC violated the court order and its details have appeared in print media. Despite orders from the High Court, he has built 12 huts.
(7) Development works of PHE, JKPCC and R&B and such other development works of other departments have been allotted to about three thousand close relatives or blue-eyed associates without a legal tender or notification under Direct Allotment provision. These contracts involve crores of rupees. According to the rules the tenders had to be approved only after these were formally advertised. This never happened. What is more bizarre while 70 % of the work was still unfinished, the authorities released the payment in full? Those who had completed the work according to normal procedure of tenders are told that the treasury has no money.
(8) From Kangan to Sonamarg along the banks of Sindh river, many influential persons and capitalists have grabbed state land and a PIL has been filed under Encroachment law. Hotels and huts were being raised but their construction has been stopped under PIL.
(9) Hokarsar is a famous water body in the neighbourhood of Sumbal. This has been filled with soil under the pretext that a playing ground for the children is being made. This is not done by any ordinary or unknown person; NC activist and the Speaker of the Assembly is doing it despite the fact that thousands of kanals of state grazing land exists around. Hokarsar has been a famous world bird sanctuary for many years. By destroying this water body, ecology of the region has been threatened. According to a newspaper report the Chief Minister is said to have expressed his anxiety about filling of this water reservoir.
(10) About 664 cases of corruption have been registered with the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) and Crime Branch. Among the indicted are state officials, IAS officers and a former NC Minister. No prosecution against him is allowed to proceed for last twenty-one years.
(11) Recently a death of a relative happened in the family of a minister. On the 40th day ritual of the departed soul, a certain contractor arranged a feast so grand that people say only wealthy persons host such feasts on marriage ceremony of a daughter.
(12) At whatever department we lay our finger we come across rampant corruption and bribery. Take the case of Food Department. 90% of rations like rice, sugar and kerosene oil is sold in black market instead of supplying it to the poor people. Any cursory inquiry into the assets of Food Department functionaries, officers, Union office bearers and Ghat Munshis will reveal that these run into crores of rupees. If we probe into the case of recruitments to government vacancies, you will come across a horrible and stunning picture. Most of the recruits have links with political organizations or ministers or they have the support of bureaucracy.
According to media reports more than 350 complaints have been registered with Accountability Commission against government officers, ministers and bureaucrats. That is the reason why the head of the Accountability Commission has not been appointed for last three years. State’s resources are being looted freely. In particular water and forest resources are being wantonly destroyed.
In Kashmir people pretend to be God fearing. They offer prayers in worshipping places. But at the same time they perpetrate oppression by indulging in bribery. Theft of electricity is done at a large scale. We have laws but the question is of enforcing them. Law is implemented only for to punish the poor and the separatists.
Recently person falling under BPL demanded from Chief Information Officer the details of last three year record from Civil Aviation Department (CAD). He asked for the details of expenditures incurred by the CM on helicopter visits. The statement showed the Chief Minister’s flights from Jammu to Katra – Gulmarg helipad; Jammu to Rajouri and Shahdarah airport, from Nehru Helipad to Srinagar Airport, Nehru Helipad to Ganderbal, Nehru Helipad to SKICC (Santaur), Nehru Helipad to Dachhigam a distance of 5 kilometers the same distance from CM’s home to SKICC. On these jaunts the CM has billed the state exchequer for 12 crore rupees in last three years.
This is the general loot of state revenue. Jaunts to Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Dachhigam have been private visits along with family for picnic. The CM has to be a model of honest administration in a state and each penny of expenditure he incurs is to be accounted for. But when the CM chooses to use the copter from Helipad to SKICC and Dachhigam, what impression does it make on the administrative machinery of the state?
The death of Syed Yousuf has disclosed the whole corrupt machinery of J&K State administration. The CM and the Minister for State have been accused of torture and murder. Why was Syed Yousuf called to the CM’s home? If there were Syed Yousuf was involved in some corruption cases, he should have been referred directly to the police or Crime Branch. Why first call him to the CM’s home? Did the CM feel the need to discuss some issues with him or even advise him before he was handed over to the police? Now the Government has suggested to conduct a probe, but what been the outcome of different probes which were conducted during CM Omar Abdullah’s tenure. Nothing came out from probes and commissions on the Shopian case, Sopore custodial killings, killing of more than 120 youth during agitation and demonstrations in 2010 and other such issues? The Government had promised to come with results and punish the perpetrators within 15 days, but nothing has happened and years have gone by.
The Speaker of the Assembly has openly hurled abuses and cursed the opposition party representatives during assembly session. A speaker who should have maintained neutrality and showcase maturity and intellect despite the gravest provocations, is hurling vulgar abuses at assembly members who only want to discuss the issue of Syed Yousuf’s death. The Speaker of the Assembly has lost all fundamental and moral right to function in his duty. He should resign immediately. Same happened during the issue of Afzal Guru’s mercy petition which was brought up by Er. Rasheed. This assembly member was thrown out from the assembly, lathi-charged and arrested.
The Centre and Congress have always supported NC’s rule despite corruption, rapes, killings and malpractice, because they have always reasoned that these actions were provoked by the separatist movement in Kashmir and that crushing that movement was in the national interest of India, although inhuman tactics were used. But when the Congress and Centre are not taking action against the suggested involvement of the Government and the CM in the killing of Syed Yousuf and the various corruption allegations, the Centre is sending the wrong message. People of J&K feel that Democracy is non-existent in Kashmir, because they have seen that even in the so-called highest Democratic institution, The J&K Assembly, matters cannot openly be discussed and whoever tries to bring the Government to account, is greeted with abuses, thrown out of the assembly, lathi-charged and even arrested. Peace is not given any space, because NC’s main objective is to remain in power by hook or crook. The Congress and the Centre should revisit their strategy as this is creating more hatred against the Centre and eventually will lead to deterioration of peace and that is against the national interest of any country which upholds Democracy.
We should appreciate the struggle of Anna Hazare, his protest and his sentiments. The most significant thing about his movement is that it is non-violent. He repeatedly announced that no damage will be done to the public property because it was people’s property and our property. Anna Hazare is only a symbol in front of the people of India . The fact is that the people of India are fed up with corruption that has crept into every aspect of life. This is exactly the case with our state. But the tragedy is that here the government and he bureaucracy do not let us carry forward peaceful struggle. Any public demonstration turns into violent protest and people are linked to separatism in every case. They are labeled as anti-India and subjected to brutalities. This is the attitude of all those who run the government in the State on the strength of Indian armed forces and through perpetration of oppression. A poet has well said:
“Qatl mere itne hue qistun main
Kabhi hath badal gaye kabhi khanjar”
(My assassination though innumerable,
Were executed in installments
Sometimes hands changed in the process
And at other times the daggers changed)