J&K caught in a mess

It's not one problem, but a whirlpool of problems which we are facing as a people

HORIZONS

HASHIM QURESHI

`You are weak when you lie because you arenít strong enough to face the truth'
Politics literally means serving humanity or making service to humanity as oneís profession. Unfortunately, in the sub-continent, and some Arab and Asian countries, politics carries only one meaning viz. oppression, tyranny, bribery, loot and pushing people to the whirlpool of complex problems. This generally has led to unrest and turmoil in these countries.
During 2008 election all mainstream political parties like NC, PDP, Congress, CPIM, Awami National Conference, BJP and other pro-Indian organization had made promises of redressing the grievances of people, especially the problems of power, water supply and employment. On these promises they obtained votes.
Actually the people of the State also changed their stance overnight like chameleon and took part in that election on the presumption that participation was not for solving Kashmir issue but addressing day to day problems. Prior to election nearly 63 Kashmiri youth laid down their lives in Ragda Movement.
The question is that when these parties made promises of redressing the grievances and sough the vote, why people did not ask them that they were not able to provide basic necessities like electricity, water, roads and employment during past sixty years. What magic wand had they now in their hands that they would do in just six years what they could not do in sixty years.
The people given to sentimentality were made scapegoats during past sixty-five years. I give a simple example. If anybody is able to make little progress by dealing in handicrafts like paper mache or wood carving etc. others want to follow suit, of course quite blindly. The result is that they have paved the way for decay of Kashmir crafts. Hundreds of thousands of people who had flocked to this business blindfold are in a wretched condition. Loans were taken from banks apparently for doing some business and self-employment. Instead they bought Maruti cars and scooters and ignored the original purpose of taking loans
Whenever elections were held, people willy-nilly participated in these. Yet in spite of that gun was very much with the militants. People did not care to put questions to them where the gun would be taking them to. And when the gun was taken up not one but few scores of them came into being. It is amusing to note that the gun that was imported to be used against the Indian troops has been used more against Kashmiris and by Kashmiris. When Kashmiris began to surrender, this also became a precedent followed blindly by the gun-wielders.
We follow something blindly and then under a spell of emotions get our people in groups of 50s or 100s killed without taking the movement anywhere close to its destination.
Political parties mostly are responsible for this because they donít have any organized plan for carrying forward the movement. We can even go to the length of saying that political parties are making wrong use of the emotions of people. It is for these reasons that instead of resolving the problem of the people, political leadership creates more entanglements for the people. LPG is an example in point.
LPG is not a luxury. It is the life line like electric power and water. The mess created about gas has only humiliated the consumers. Conditions stipulated for regularization of gas are such as create innumerable hardships to the people. Old people, women and young boys wait in long queues for five to six hours to get their turn for the gas cylinder. And in many cases they have to return empty handed to their homes despite long wait in biting cold.
According to informed sources gas suppliers have made it a determined crisis only to exploit people. LPG agencies have minted crores of rupees for giving new connections or for proper documentation. Situation of electric power is worse. On an average power supply is hardly for ten or twelve hours. Its voltage is not more than 110 or 115. One needs to make use of a torch to find where the electric lamp is.
Authorities must have noted that owing to gas crisis, more electric heaters are being used by people which makes power scenario worse than what it was. Water is necessary for existence. Nature has been bountiful to us in providing us plenty of water. Our womenfolk in villages still carry pitchers of water on their heads and walk two to three kilometers to fetch home the most essential commodity called water. This is impure water and most of the water schemes floated in towns and villages have simply failed. Broken water pipes pollute drinking water. Tanks used as reservoirs of water are not cleaned for years at end. The polluted water becomes the source of many serious and fatal diseases...Officers of PHE and contractors do not use even one fortieth of the allocations on developmental works.   A number of centrally sponsored schemes are floated throughout the country including J&K. Some of these are Indira Yojna, Nehru Yojna, Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan, NAREGA, NABARD and Prime Ministerís Packages etc. Building of houses and loans and land for that purpose and providing each village youth at least 180 work days in a year are parts of these schemes. In our state, most of these schemes are scripted on paper only. People do not receive even 10-20 per cent benefit from the said files. For panchs and sarpanchs MGNRGA are proving white elephant. We know from reliable sources that people get 40 per cent and panchs and sarpanchs get 60 per cent benefit from the scheme. Just to cite an example. A sum of 8.11 lakh rupees was drawn in the name of filling a playground in Ganderbal constituency while on actual work not more than 3 lakh rupees have been spent. When the youth of the area protested, they were shown the road to police station.
The CAG is reported to have detected embezzlement of lakhs and crores of rupees while auditing financial institutions of the state. On account of this many central funds have been blocked. We fail to understand on what grounds the central government awarded the state for eradicating poverty. Question marks can be put on the attitude of the central government and its policy and actions in regard to Kashmir. Omar Abdullah government has been awarded for bringing improvement in Health Department. We cannot forget that during 2012 nearly 400 babies died in GB Pant Hospital owing to the negligence of the doctors or substandard medicine and dysfunctional machinery. That threw a pall of disappointment on Kashmiri nation and there were wholesale protests. The question to be asked is did the central government award Omar Abdullah for the act of decimating a generation?

State employees!

The State government made many commitments with the employees of various departments like transport, education, health and others that arrears would be released and daily wagers would be regularized. Nothing happened on the ground and the employees were forced to come on streets in protest. The government has only one answer to the protecting employees who clamour for their rights and that is violence, tear gas shells and bullets.

Hospitals!
These are not hospitals; call them butcheries. Firstly machines so vital to medical science are not available in hospitals. Conversely machines worth millions of rupees have been installed in some hospitals but these are dysfunctional and damaged. Doctors get commission for suggesting patients to go to outside laboratories. Patients are referred to private laboratories. These private laboratories are dismally short of basic facility like water, toilet and heating system. Patients are fleeced. Authorities take no notice of this. Generally the word circulating in big hospitals is that the ruling circles and bureaucracy demand their share of the spoils.

Food grains!
Medicines, eatables and beverages imported into the state are generally of expired dates. Fake dale labels are pasted on them. According to one version maximum fake medicines are sold in J&K. The fake medicines have complicated our normal life. Instead of having been cured of some malaise, a patient finds his condition deteriorated after he is administered fake medicine.
About ration stores the less said the better. These remain closed for most part of the time. According to one report in the Food and some other departments, there are some employees who exist only on paper but their salaries are drawn from the public exchequer. There are also employees who seldom attend their duty but regularly turn up on the first day of the month to receive their salary. According to one government circular each ration card holder gets 35 kilograms of ration irrespective of the numbers to be fed in the household. This is not equitable justice.

Road accidents!
Death dances on the roads of the State in general but on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and on Bhaderwah-Doda-Batote and Rajouri roads have become a matter of routine. The J&K Police Chief minced no words when he said that fatalities occurring in the state during last year owing to road accidents are more than those killed in military. Billions of rupees are withdrawn from the state exchequer in the name of widening the roads and improving their condition. But the fact is that half of the amount spent on these items goes to the pockets of stakeholders and only half is utilized for real purpose. This is how general loot is perpetrated in the department. And surprisingly neither the engineers concerned nor the contractors are made accountable for acts of omission and commission.
There is no scientifically and technically sound planning in road connectivity on modern lines. This leads to a situation of crisis. We are forced to think that the completion of these projects could be done secretly. Once a road is completed and black topping is done then suddenly the electric departments begins to remove or install new eclectic poles or the UEED begin to dig for drainage system and in this way the roads once prepares are again dug to repeat construction work. The proper way of doing things is that at the time of preparing the Framework, all interested departments are invited to a broad based discussion. It is to prioritize the work and the money is utilized in the interests of the people and their welfare.
In the cases of road accidents, neither the traffic police department nor the government evinces any interest in the phenomenon... Truth and honesty have become victims in J&K. It should not be difficult to check road accident by forbidding driving without a driving license, driver should have at least three years of driving experience, speedometer should be checked intermittently, talking on mobile during driving should be banned and the driver and conductor should be disqualified for driving for the irregularity of overloading. There is dire need of widening the roads of plains and the traffic manpower should not be only highly mobile but should be made to perform their duty with loyalty. Although crores are spent on repair of roads but actual repair done is not more than 5 per cent of the total expenditure shown. This is a somewhat safe source of income for the engineers, overseers and the contractors as nobody is going to ask them to account for the expenditure. They are not accountable to anybody.

Educational institutes!
Rot has gone into the entire educational system. What can we expect from this social institution when the entire education department is ready to do anything to help the ministerís son cheat in the examination? There is hardly any need to write on the final outcome of the educational policy. In government schools, teachers get salaries above 25 thousand rupees a month. But it has been seen that they go to the schools only on pay day and for the rest of the month they play truants. . In many schools teachers outnumber students. There are innumerable schools which have no shelters at all. No wonder if we get zero per cent results in Matriculation in government schools. It appears a calculated policy of the government to create crisis situation in schools so that students are forced to take the road to private institutions. This helps in mismanaging the funds. Most of the private institutions belong to the relatives of the rulers or party workers. 
Burn Hall, Presentation Convent and Mallinson Schools were meant to give admission to the students from poor families. On this basis they were given 20 kanals of land against a paltry sum for a long lease. But these have become institutions of loot. Fees for each student run in thousands and lakhs of rupees are demanded for admission. Even that cannot happen unless some big bureaucrat or minister makes recommendation besides a good amount for donation. Without donations even a middle class family cannot get admission for its ward. They do not even pay the arrears to the revenue department. The land that remains under their occupation costs not less than a thousand million rupees. Nobody knows why the government does not ask them to reserve quota for poor students.
Take the case of DPS Dhar Public School Trust. There was just one building at the time of starting the school. Today there are no fewer than ten structures plus heating system, computer education and the paraphernalia of sports activities including a swimming pool. Education is imparted up 12th class. I personally know that some seats are reserved for the poor students and orphans. Despite all this, many people have been raising their finger on this institution and the local bureaucracy resorts to harassing the DPS administration intermittently.
I have to say it with some pain that there are some people in Kashmir who are multi-milliners possessing thousands of kanals of land. They earn millions of rupees by selling the products of their factories to the people of Kashmir. But it is unfortunate that they never think of giving charities to the poor and deserving. Wealthy people in different parts of the world do lots of public work like providing shelters, dispensaries, delivery centers, clinics and hospitals. These institutions are raised to provide help and support to the poor and the destitute so that their children donít suffer lack of education. Such activities are totally absent in Jammu and Kashmir. What a sad commentary.
It is not out of context to say that in both India and Pakistan, a conspiracy has been hatched to deprive the people of regular livelihood and arrest progress and development. On both sides J&K has been made a consumer state. Therefore our problems cannot be solved unless both countries and the people of the state take an objective view of the situation. Kashmiris need to change their mindset. We sincerely want to convey to the chief minister what the opinion of people about National Conference and about his person is. He should try to know it from outside the circle of his sycophants.
Before closing this write-up, I feel it unavoidable to speak a word about the problems of poor and oppressed classes of society. I am speaking about the lepers and their children. They are living in kacha houses in terribly wretched conditions. These houses can collapse at any time. They receive no medical treatment. Some construction had been started for their residential accommodation but since 2012 the work on construction has been topped for unknown reasons. Why have they been left to their fate is not understandable. They need clean atmosphere and accommodation and elementary requirements. They should have been provided medical assistance on priority basis. Leprosy is not incurable. Further, there is the need of opening schools for the blind in every district so that this segment is able to fend for them.

(Hashim Qureshi is Chairman JKDLP Blog: hashimqureshi-jkdlp.blogspot.com Website: www.jkdlp.org)

Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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