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In Jammu & Kashmir, corruption is the story of growth, innovation

The corruption story is getting bold and innovative in Kashmir.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 13, 2012, 05.26 PM IST
SRINAGAR: The corruption story is getting bold and innovative in Kashmir. It has been the fifth day since a Jammu newspaper reported about a cabinet minister flying cash-stuffed briefcases to Jammu from Srinagar and nobody in the government bothered to react.

The minister identified as somebody carrying a “meticulously clean” image with an “intellectual bent of mind” has flown four such briefcases in last two months.

The modus operandi has been innovative. A confidant in his personal security ring would list his official car under a particular category that would skip its physical search at the outer gate.

The bag would be handed over to any private airliner with ‘rush’ tag and after x-ray (where the money was detected but not stopped) it would be on board as a person would receive the ‘consignment’ from the airline in Jammu.

The intellectual minister would routinely fly in the next aircraft. The security apparatus might have informed the high-ups. As nothing happened, the news was leaked to the media just for the sake of records.

For most of the last week, a family from a central Kashmir village would come to Srinagar to protest their humiliation. Residents of Kutbal, one of their members affiliated with an organized RTI movement.

An application led to the revelation that Sarpanch and Deputy Sarpanch (father and son) had provided 26 of their relatives including minors and state government employees bank cheques worth Rs 48500 each to construct houses under Indira Awaas Yojna (IAY) in league with the Rural Development Department triggered a crisis.

Though the victim was not an applicant but that did not prevent the powerful local body leaders to beat the family and parade them including women naked in the village to teach them a lesson. It was only after the crisis remained on newspaper front-pages that police started acting against the elected goons.

Managing a job in the state government is one of the major exercises that are being planned like building a house. As every available position in the government and its PSUs were filled, it inflated the wag bill, expected to be more than half of the overall spending of around Rs 32000 crore this fiscal, all recruitment by officers and ministers were banned.

But that did not devour the powers of the babus. In league within, they do not issue appointment orders to their blue-eyed boy. They transfer them. Once they joint services at places far away from their residence, babus take time to do the needful.

Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma recently said they have deteted around 1200 such appointments in his ministry between 1998 and 2008. In lat three years that he presided over it has been around 200.

Right now, around twenty officers, mostly doctors at administrative positions, and an unspecified number of clerks are under suspension. These included a doctor whose appointed his wife a dental surgeon and posted under himself on the recommendation of a minister at a time when the elected government had resigned and government was under governor’s rule! This is the second such racket after a similar one in directorate of local bodies.

Successive governments have been “fighting” corruption and have crated a series of institution. As the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) was unable to fight the corruption at high places in politics, State Accountability Commission was created. It remained headless for a long time and once it was revived the Commission started dusting the complaints pending disposal.

The government acted quite fast and got most of the cases stayed and it excludes nobody. The SVO was decided to have an upgrade to a full-fledged autonomous commission. The government suggested the former police chief Kuldeep Khuda and the opposed the idea saying an officer directly responsible for three innocent killings and then using his official authority to suppress facts is unfit to fight corruption. The nomination is with the Raj Bhawan.

Now the corrupt practices in the government are impacting the private sector. Rejecting the bail application of an entrepreneur who runs a private security firm that also takes care of the cleanliness of the hospitals, the high court directed the government to legislate how the public money usurped by black sheep is recovered in the private sector. The firm owner Amin Beig was found physically and sexually abusing girls that he would be manage from humble peripheral background for his company. The government said he would even supply them thus converting them into prostitutes.

Under the law, the state government can takeover the property that individuals create by defrauding the public exchequer. But this is restricted for the government employees. The court wants a similar law for the private sector. Interestingly, however, most of the 15 properties that state government took over since 2007 when Ghulam Nabi Azad made this law, have been reclaimed by the accused!

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