Nothing is free

Nothing is free

Not even peace and peace-keepers

Just as the turmoil of 2016 was at its peak with roads, lanes and by-lanes unmanageable by the local police, something had to be done to somehow turn the tide for the better. Wasn’t our local police force enough in number to handle the crisis? No, perhaps they were not; the numbers were far less than what was required to keep the situation under control. So to tackle the uprising, in were rushed paramilitary forces, the SSB and CRPF from various quarters of India and within sometime they laid their web across the state to slowly control the events. It took them some time but it did happen and they still continue to be part of the normalcy holding exercise in the state. Along with many other measures, the paramilitary forces did the job, not free, but at a price. In Kashmir, the process of normalcy is not free; it is very costly in terms of its drain on the local budget and the local police force. Let me further my view.

The additional forces got from outside, be it SSB or CRPF or any other like, come here to perform in unusual circumstances and hence besides their own salaries, they are to be paid allowances like the hardship/tough duty allowances which are borne by our state rather than the centre. And if I am right in my calculations, their daily shift to the point of duty and their TA which may start from as low as a hundred rupee for a sainik to hundreds for the officer all adds up to a huge sum which may amount to  the “a, b, c” of our state budget. Besides the accommodation and also the facilities like electricity, heating arrangements and other paraphernalia they require, add up to “ d,e, f” on the state exchequer.

The vigil doesn’t stop at the roads but innumerable government establishments need to be kept away from the dubious. The secretariat, AG office, DC office, Radio Kashmir, Doordarshan Kendre,  to name a  few, are  heavily fortified and guarded at the state expenditure which may amount to  “g, h, i” of our budget. 

Securing the states ‘who is who’, there being so many, from political highs to a local Sarpanch, from the top working bureaucrat to a bank official, from an activist to a literary figure, is a big task. It incurs huge manpower and consumes most of the local police and hence comes at a cost that may sum up to “j, k, l”  of the budget. Even those who have a contrary view to that of the government’s viewpoint are secured by the local police even when they are kept inside their homes and this too may amount to m, n,”   of our budget. Also all move employees during their stay either way, need to be secured during their tenure in the valley, this consumes “ o, p, q”   of the expenses. We also have a large retired brigade to be kept safe, retired legislators, bureaucrats, civil servants by a line of policemen dressed in civvies and barely laden with arms. A huge incur considering the number involved and this may be eating on “r, s, t” of the budget.

Last but not the least many dignitaries who come from outside the state (on a governmental or personal visit) are guarded and  their visit secured  with the expenses incurred,  levied by  the state,  which may be amounting to “u,v, w”  fraction of the state budget.

I am not contesting the important aspect of securing our people, officials and lawmakers as well as the institutions of ours but what also is important to know and worry about is the percentage of the local police required as well as the monetary requirements this whole exercise incurs.  What we are left with seems to be a far less local force to tackle the urgencies as well as lose “a  to w” of the total budget to be left with just the x, y, z amount of our budget to have  the two ends meet. Losing so much of either, is a huge expense both in terms of manpower and money, all for the sake of peace of the state and also for the peace of a select few . Some of this money could at least have been utilized for something concrete. 

(Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani is Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Soura)