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.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Great Rip-Off

Yet another story of endemic corruption in the State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC)

Rs 43 Cr CP Fund Embezzled

Rashid Paul (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: The contributory provident fund (CP) of employees of State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) amounting to Rs 43 crores has been “embezzled” as the contribution from workforce has not been deposited with the concerned government agencies.

A senior official at the labor commissioner’s office confirmed to Rising Kashmir that CP fund of nearly 4000 SRTC employees approximating Rs 43 crores from financial year 2000 onwards has not been deposited with the commissioner’s office.

Pleading not to be named he said “clarification has been sought from 14 unit officers of SRTC for not crediting the amount with the government. The money has simply been embezzled,” he said.
‘A CP fund @ 8.33 per cent of the total salary of each employee was being deducted every month but never deposited with the labor commissioner’s office,” said Shakeel Ahmed Kuchey, chairman of SRTC workers union. The procedure stipulates that the employer has also to make equal contribution towards the employee’s provident fund. But neither the contribution from the employees nor the employer’s share has been credited. The amount has been usurped by the SRTC management, Shakeel alleged.

He said an employee who wishes to withdraw his C P fund has to return empty handed. “They are forced to avail bank loans at exorbitant interest rates. Since the wages are not paid regularly, most of loanees have ended up as defaulters,” Shakeel said.

Altaf Ahmed, a senior SRTC employee said that he applied for withdrawal of his CP fund to arrange the marriage of his daughter. “I was denied and bluntly told that there is nothing I can pull out. I opted for a consumer loan at 14 percent interest,” Altaf said.

Ghulam Mohidin, another senior employee at the corporation said that hundreds of employees who retired over the past few years were also deprived of their life time savings. “Some of them expired while following their case. Now it is their widows who are lost in the maze of the corridors of power,” Mohidin said

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