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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rotten to the Core

Firdous laments on corruption in high places

(Mr. Firdous Syed, 43, was born in Bhaderwah, Doda, and had his schooling in Jammu. He is currently the Chairman of the "Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies," and associated with the J&K National Conference. Between 1989 and 1991, he led the Moslem Janbaaz Force, a militant group, and was jailed from 1991 through 1994. In 1996, he publicly renounced the gun culture, and is an active member of the Kashmir civil society.)

Corruption Everywhere

Few days ago, five police officers including SSP Jammu were suspended for destruction of evidence in a murder case. This incident is too stunning to be taken lightly. Disciplinary action by the administration indicates some intolerance towards delinquency. Nevertheless it highlights spread of decay to the inner most core. Suspension of SSP Jammu, SP City (South), SDPO, SHO, Sub Inspector and a Havaldar-cum-Munshi, allegedly involved in a criminal conspiracy, come as a rude shock. It only happens in Bollywood movies, wherein notorious characters buy entire police station to cover-up their crime. What happened in Jammu is bizarre. It is difficult to believe whether it is a real life incident or reel life drama. Infamous contractor backed by his ill-gotten wealth could purchase entire chain of police command; to save his son accused in a murder case is worrisome. This is a crude reminder that nowadays everybody and anybody, is buyable and has a prize tag attached. Brazenly police and criminals ganged-up to subvert long arm of the law. But more alarming is the fact that police officers had no fear of the system they were serving.

It is high profile case. Son of an ex-MLC was killed in broad day light just outside his home by son of an influential contractor; it was allover in the press. Even then police officers could think of destroying the evidence for huge monetary considerations, only shows the spread of corruption and to the levels it has seeped. So called custodian of law can stoop so low? The Lawyer and former politician had the resources to knock the doors of high-ups for justice; she could jolt the system. But what happens to the people, having no access to the higher echelons of the administration is not difficult to envisage. The short shrift common man gets at the hands of callous and corrupt officials is a matter of routine. People have lost touch with the justice delivery system; rather they want to maintain a safe distance with the court and the police. It is cliché, nevertheless worth repeating, does police and police station invoke a sense of security within a law abiding citizen or feelings of terrible anxiety?

Corruption has virtually rendered criminal justice system ineffective; it has almost lost its relevance. Investigation, prosecution and judiciary are main pillars of justice delivery system. If these institutions are not plagued with corruption, then why there is huge backlog of the cases in the courts? Why most of the time prosecution fails to prove the charges? Why moneyed is able to avoid the dragnet of law invariably. Money clubbed with muscle has become a lethal combination; hardly any rich criminal gets convicted. Only poor who cannot grease palms of police and clerks rot behind the bars, rich and influential go scot-free. An honest judge and committed police officer can insure delivery of justice; in the process also create fear in the minds of criminals. Perhaps both have lost their character? As a result corruption has become a way of life. It is typical case of fence eating the crop. When lawmakers and dispensers of justice become lawbreakers and begin shielding criminals, it is but natural for the lawbreakers to not fear punitive justice system. Corrupt have emboldened, they can subvert the system at their will. Wide spread corruption is sickening, but frightening is unabashed behavior of the corrupt.

Earlier individuals were dishonest, now entire system is corrupt. Previously, corrupt practices used to be an exception, it’s standard behavior now. Honest are in minority, therefore misfit in this crooked system. Very few in present set-up are left with some integrity; most have lost their moral fiber. Day in and day out, newspapers are full of reports pertaining to collapsed overhead tanks, sinking of large stretch of roads, bridges falling, dams bursts and grid stations malfunctioning. But how many times, we get to hear about corrupt engineers losing their job, and contractors put behind bars.

Generally roads all over valley, are in depilated condition. Owing to greater wear and tear and some negligence also, roads in Srinagar were in much worse shape. Driven by vote bank politics, present dispensation with much hullabaloo initiated macadamisation of roads in both capital cities, at a whopping cost of half a billion Rupees. Some roads may have been paved and blacktopped. But actually engineers and contractors are the real beneficiaries. The kind of inferior raw materiel being used in the macadamisation of the roads is for every body to see; R&B minister even suspended some engineers. Besides all the roads have been macadamized below/under specifications, these are ill built to withstand heavy traffic of the city. If the newly surfaced roads will not crumble due to growing traffic pressure, they will collapse under harsh weather conditions. These roads are not fit to bear the burnt of even first snowfall. Let winter come potholes will sure resurface, therefore defeating very idea of better roads. Only roads do not deteriorate beforehand, every building and bridge crumbles well before their estimated time span.

Government each year allocates crores of Rupees to PHE, for expansion of water supply schemes and distribution of potable water to the people. Most of the time PHE supplies its consumer’s raw water (if not muddy), unfit for human consumption. This untreated/semi treated water supply is common for everybody; Chief Minster to down below, man on the street. How come an engineer can supply untreated water, without any fear of reprisal? It is not only engineering departments which are badly inflicted by corruption; each and every segment of the administration is swarmed by wrongdoers. Rural development is the most corrupt department. Only twenty to twenty five Pisa of a Rupee allocated for a scheme sees light of the day, the rest is pocketed by the officers and politicians. There is huge forest department, yet forest cover is decreasing with each passing day? In the presence of forest protection force, why forests are being cut indiscriminately by smugglers? Dull protection is most talked about; despite hundreds of crores of allocation, why Dull is shrinking fast? Do not we know spurious/inferior medicines are supplied to hospitals? Is it a secret that bureaucrats live beyond their legitimate means and have disproportionate assets? Forget, bureaucrat, engineer and police officer, even teacher here does not lag behind. Is it not a fact that midday meal meant for school children ends at a provisional store? It is a free for all, corruption is not only rampant it is blatant.

Thieves use to decamp with the booty silently in the middle of the night; they had some fear and were also ashamed of their actions. Modern-day dacoits plunder during the day as matter of right, having little or no regard for any authority. Why it happens? Simply because everybody in the system has become corrupt and is on a treasure hunt. In the past corruption was confined to Patwri, Thanedar, Overseer, and petty clerk. Latter on, engineer, high ranking bureaucrat and police officer joined the party. Politicians relatively were less corrupt, but now they have crossed all the limits of decency. Politics has become so murky and costly an affair that it is next to impossible for an honest politician to survive and flourish as well. Situation has reached such surpass that even Judges are accused of making money through unfair means. It is nexus between politician, bureaucrat and police, you scratch my back; I scratch yours. Everybody is busy in pillage; no body is interested in probity. In such a bleak scenario, if somebody claims fighting the corruption, either he is boasting or simply lying. It is a rotten system it cannot be reformed, it is to be changed only.

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