August 2004 News

Graft In J&K Keeps Militancy In Business

18 August 2004
The Statesman

Kolkata: Surprisingly comprehensive reports of Jammu and Kashmir government monitor on rampant corruption in the official establishment occasions no surprises, for Revenue Minister maintains that corruption 'has always existed.' It would, however, be close to shocking if those calling shots in Srinagar and New Delhi do not recognise as confirmation, what has been suspected - a vested interest in the perpetuation of militancy. In a probe conducted over a one-year period, the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) came up with a black-list of over 300 officers and also identified the worst departments. No prize for guessing that the cops took the top spot, but that it was followed by the works and forests departments has a specific significance in the context of the continuing militancy. Policemen are notorious for exploiting troubled conditions, and the climate in J&K is ideal for extortion and harassment. But it is public works and forests departments that provide a feast. Crores are expended on 'developmental' projects, but little is achieved on the ground. It has become customary to claim that steel, cement and other building material disappeared because militants brought construction to a halt - in reality orders were placed, and fictitious deliveries were made for bills to be paid. It is commonly known that militant outfits have their contractor 'fronts' which are in tandem with the official works department to bleed the exchequer. No wonder that 75 executive engineers are on the SVO's black list. The past decade has witnessed the rape of forests to yield precious timber. These, are subjected to fake encounters of another kind, illegal logging is unpreventable ostensibly due to militant activity!. The economy of J&K has sustained a series of body-blows ever since the gun ruled supreme. But at no stage, not even during the height of the violence, did construction activity come to a halt. Indeed several new houses came up during that period. Gossip was that new construction pointed to an inflow of foreign money, but insiders confessed that it was a reflection of the end-use of public funds that had been siphoned off. Mufti Mohd. Sayeed may lay emphasis on his healing touch, his daughter would want security forces to go slow, accusing fingers are pointed across the LoC: there are no dearth of causes identified and solutions offered to restore peace to the Valley. But there will be no results until the link between corruption and militancy is snapped. They feed off each other.


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