Omar's Janata Darbar Offers A Ray Of Hope For The Needy18 May 2011
Srinagar: From tearful requests for funds for marriage of daughters to passionate pleas for financial help for treatment of a cancer afflicted boy, people from Kashmir Valley queued up before daybreak here today to meet Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. People flocked to the private office of the Chief Minister in the hope that Omar's interaction with the 'Aam Aadmi' in his first ever 'Janata Darbar' to address the grievances of the people of the state would yield some results. The state administration shifted to the state's summer capital of Srinagar early this month. It was from 5 am, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, the newly elected Sarpanch from General Area of Sopore in North Kashmir, had lined up to seek financial assistance for a boy in his village who is suffering from cancer. By 10 am, nearly 1,000 people had lined up at the place where Omar was holding his first 'Janata Darbar' – convened with an aim to have a direct interaction with the people. The Darbar will be held every Wednesday. 'People of my area have reposed faith in me. It is my duty to get them whatever help from the government,' Lone said as he patiently waited for his turn. The Chief Minister, who started this pracatice last year in an attempt to reach out to the people at grassroots level, believes that the cases reaching him are rather exceptions. 'These cases are exceptions. The idea behind the Open House is that people have somewhere to go for redressing their grievances and that justice is done to all,' Omar said. Calling for a need to re-energise the system, he said once the Panchayti Raj institutions are in place, issues at the village level can be dealt with at the local level and the people need have to to visit the Secretariat, Ministers or even the Chief Minister. 'This is precisely the reason we were determined to go for Panchayat elections. Once the Panchayats are empowered, we will have lesser of these complaints reaching here,' he said. Omar was also candid in saying that the Janata Darbar cannot be a panacea for all the problems facing the state as no system can be perfect. 'Not everything that comes here gets acted upon. There are some (representations) which can be acted upon immediately and we do. There are some which need to be put through planning process while there are some which cannot be acted upon at all and we tell the people rightaway,' he said. As people poured in from all parts of the Valley, security personnel around the Chief Minister were having a tough time in managing the crowd. There was no particular pattern to the demands of the delegations and individuals calling on the Chief Minister. They ranged from upgrading a middle school in Kupwara district and setting up an irrigation pump in a village in Pulwama district to allowing an association of young garden photographers to ply their trade inside Srinagar's famous Mughal gardens. Hafeeza, from Nawakadal area of the city, is in tears as she narrated her story. She has two daughters who are getting married in June but has no resources for meeting the expenses. 'My husband was working as a mason but he lost one eye in a violent incident few years back. I want the Chief Minister to help me bear the expenses of the wedding so that my daughters can get married,' Hafeeza said. Manzoor Ahmed Mundoo from a village in south Kashmir Kulgam district wants the Chief Minister's intervention for getting him the possession of five marlas (1360 square feet) plot allotted to him by the Divisional Commissioner for housing purpose as he belongs to below poverty line category. Despite all the officials writing favourable reports, Mundoo's promised plot has evaded him for nearly five years. 'Omar saheb is my last hope. Agar upar ka danda nahi chalega, phir Upar walay ki laathi ka intezaar karoonga (If the pressure from the top also does not work, I will wait for the justice of the Almighty),' Mundoo said. While the Chief Minister lends a patient ear to everyone, he does not entertain anyone seeking job or those wanting to discuss politics and matters relating to his National Conference. 'The party matters have to be dealt by Farooq (Abdullah) Sahib (NC president) and Shiekh Nazir (General Secretary),' he told a delegation from his Ganderbal Assembly constituency.