Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How is corruption in Kashmir these days? Glad you asked ...

Three related news items emanating from the J&K State Assembly exemplify how corruption is eating into vitals of the Kashmiri ethos. Transparency International (TI) has stated that J&K is the second most corrupt state in India.

1. Suffocated Baig offers to quit


Jammu, Jan 14: Confessing that deep-rooted corruption in the state was suffocating him, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig said he was contemplating to bid farewell to the his high profile office. This is how it was until late Monday after his emotional speech to the House minutes before Chief Minister’s address who vowed to carry on his fight against corruption.

Muzaffar Baig left the House dumb struck when he disclosed at the conclusion of the debate on the charges of corruption leveled against a minister in the State Legislative Assembly that he feels to quit.

“I feel asphyxiated in this system which has been so rotten and deep rooted that we can not change it despite best efforts,” said Baig after seeking permission of the speaker to speak before the Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. “It may be a feeling of defeat and inadequacy, but I confess that I feel so lonely and helpless,” said Baig.

“May be I do not have the kind of resilience that the Chief Minister has, but is it the responsibility of an individual alone to fight this termite out from our society? Aren't we all responsible?" he carried on.

“One CM, one Cabinet can not change this system,” lamented Baigh.

“Our society values only money. We are all falling prey to this rotten system,” said Beig expressing regret. Quoting from Upanishads, Baig said that however bright the fire may be, it is bound to emit smoke. “When shall corruption end, we do not know, but we shall have to initiate a beginning.”

He confessed that he was in deep anguish as he stood in the House. "I am not ready to sit here if I can not make a difference" he said.

“It is easy to ask for eradication of corruption but very difficult to weed it out and cut the tentacles of monster. “Rashvat kay khilaf bolna alag hai aur rashvat ki lash ko kanday per utha kar dafan kar nay kay liye zameen doondna alag baat hai.”

2. ‘Clean’ Govt’s mantri took bribe of Rs 40,000

Jehangir Rashid (The Daily Etalaat)

Jammu, Jan 15: Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed resigned on Tuesday following charges by an independent legislator, Shoaib Lone that he took a bribe of Rs 40,000 from him. Peerzada called on the CM and submitted the resignation to him. "The Minister has resigned to pave way for an independent inquiry into the matter,"

Azad told the Legislative Assembly while speaking on the motion of thanks on the Governor's address to both Houses of the Legislature. Azad said the resignation letter has been forwarded to the Governor for acceptance. He said that investigations would be carried out on the allegations leveled against the Education Minister.

Shoaib Lone, who represents Sangrama constituency in the Houses, hinted on Monday that it was Peerzada who had taken a bribe of Rs 40,000 from him to do his sister’s work.

Azad informed the House that he has accepted the minister’s resignation, but without naming Peerzada he added that it has been sent to Governor for his approval.

Earlier on Monday night, Peerzada, who also heads the state unit of the Congress, told reporters here that he would resign as his name had figured in the corruption charges levelled by Shoaib.

"I have no idea as to what he (Shoaib) is talking about, but since my public image has been targeted, I would quit the Ministry till inquiry comes out with its findings," the PTI quoted Peerzada as saying."I, however, want the inquiry should be fair and just," he said suspecting there was a "big political conspiracy (being hatched) against me by my rivals within the party (the Congress) and outside of it.”

Peerzada’s resignation came after the Kashmir police arrested his driver for allegedly making threatening calls to Shoaib's mother. The caller had allegedly asked that either Shoaib takes back his corruption allegations or he will be killed.

The Opposition had raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly on Monday and demanded the sacking of the Education Minister.

3. Handwara resident offers arrest for bribing MLC - “I paid Rs 60,000 to MLC M S Panditpuri to get a job for my son”

Ashiq Hussain

Handwara, Jan 17: Encouraged by what happened to Education Minister and State Congress chief Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed after the expose of his alleged involvement in bribery, one person staged a sit-in in front of police station in Handwara today demanding he be arrested for having bribed the MLC, M S Panditpuri. “If both who give and take bribe are criminal, then I also deserve to be arrested,” is the argument Sahaullah Mir of Batagund Handwara puts forth.

Mir says Member Legislative Council, M S Panditpuri, had demanded a graft of Rs 60,000 from him for getting his son Ashiq Hussain Mir and son-in-law Feroz Ahmed Ganaie appointed in government service.

According to Mir he had paid RS 60,000 to Panditpuri in presence of two witnesses Ghulam Ahmed War and Saif-ud-din Mir on January 26, 2001.

However, neither have my son and son-in-law been provided jobs nor money returned to me, Mir says, adding that he had even taken the case to the State Accountability Commission (SAC).

After hearing the case registered under number 3/2005, SAC, he said had written to the State Governor for action against Panditpuri and also recommended that Mir be returned double the amount that had been claimed from him as graft.

However, until now neither has any action been taken against Panditpuri not has the money been returned to me, said Mir.

And enthused by what happened to Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed following his alleged complicity in bribery, Sahaullah Mir of Batagund Handwara came to the Police Station Handwara Thursday morning and asked the cops there to arrest him.

“Arrest me, please arrest me as I have been involved in bribery and am liable to be punished,” Mir told the policemen. However, the cops there “denied him the privilege” and pushed him out, following which Mir staged a sit-in outside the police station demanding he be arrested.

“Chief Minister says besides those who demand and accept bribe even the people who give bribe are criminal and must be punished; therefore I deserve to be arrested and punished,” says Mir.

With police in no mood to put him behind bars despite his “public confession”, Mir has threatened that “in case action was not initiated against him”, he will bring his family along on Friday and they will together “commit suicide outside the police station”.

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