J&K is gradually inching forward on the scam graph of the country. We are not still even at the tip of the iceberg of these scams. As it may not be possible to deploy CBI for probing all alleged scams in the State, we apprehend that many scandals and scams within the State will go unnoticed. This is despite the fact that we have reinforced anti-corruption institutions at our command. The more recent scam that has come to surface is about 1600 kanals of Defence Ministry’s land at a sensitive locality in Srinagar close to the international airport. The scam is reported to be of more than 800 crore rupees. Involved in the alleged scam are three officials of Defence Estate Office, State Revenue officials, some property dealers and private persons. The volume of the fraud is likely to be bigger than what has been revealed so far and informed sources think this could be the biggest land scam in the history of Defence Ministry’s Estates Department. Once the layers of the scam are unraveled we may come across startling things and naturally these would give rise to some interesting questions.
The entire basis of this land scam rests on No Objection Certificate NOC) from the Ministry of Defence to the transfer of its land, technically called alienation of land. Under existing rules, no institution or ministry has the authority to issue this kind of NOC; it is only the Union Cabinet which can order issuance of the NOC. How the accused persons managed to obtain as many as 70 NOCs that enabled them to transact the land deal? How did State Revenue Department officials make wrong entries in revenue records and thus facilitated land grabbers to straighten the papers for the land deal? Is it not possible that senior officers in the Defence Ministry and in State Revenue Department at that time were all involved in the conspiracy? Who issued NOC and how were the rules circumvented? As we go on raising questions, it appears that the scope of a large number of officials involved in the big scam increases to bigger dimensions. The hunch is that big guns in Srinagar, Jammu, Delhi and other cities are directly or indirectly involved in a fraudulent deal that has generated big money.
Incidentally, this mega scam was first unearthed by an anti-corruption team of BJP which, after preliminary study of the case on spot, had submitted a report to the Defence Ministry. Convinced by the preliminary report ordered by the defence ministry that prima facie there was a case of corruption, the Defence Ministry handed it over to the CBI for investigation. It was only then that CBI went on scratching the surface to arrive at the roots of the big fraud. But according to CBI revelations, probing continues and although some documents including laptops and pen drives and printed material have been confiscated and are likely to throw more light on the hidden aspects of the scam, there still remains a lot of probing to be done. The CBI seems to have taken up the matter seriously and is conducting investigation according to the rules and professional efficiency.
Indications are that there is every possibility of NOCs being declared null and void and the bargains struck clandestinely will be declared illegal. In that case entire land, to the tune of 1600 kanals, will have to be returned to the Defence Estates Department. This land is very close to very sensitive and strategic place, namely the International Airport of Srinagar. When new airports are built, the planners invariably take into account the topography of the site and try to keep it as far away from civilian habitats as possible. This is a security measure in essence. For Srinagar airport, which is very sensitive in terms of security, extraordinary precautions had to be taken to ensure that security parameters are fully met. How come the Defence Estate Office of the Defence Ministry overlooked the decision of the planners and created a nexus for grabbing the land belonging to the Defence Estates. The matter is simple. A nexus has come into being in which top personalities are involved. In public interest, CBI should make known fullest details of the alleged scam so that people in know of the dimensions of the fraud volunteer to reveal whatever they know about it. Declaring the sale deals as null and void and restituting the land to the Defence Estate Department will prove big set back to land mafia in the State. Recently in these columns we had reported the story of illegal land grabbing cases in Jammu.
Practice of dowry is a tradition in which gifts in cash or kind are offered from bride given to bride taker. However, in some cultural societies the process of giving and taking takes place in the opposite direction.
Practice of dowry is a social fact and cannot be seperated from the culture of a society. Due to increased flow of money during the last decade or so, practice of dowry has assumed alarming dimension. There are plethora of other social evils that have cropped up because of dowry menace.
Practice of dowry has given birth to corruption. Both the practices have entered into a dialectical relation. People indulge in corrupt activities to earn wealth to showcase their status during marriage ceremony of their daughters. Conversely, to make the marriage ceremonies, a grand show, huge amount of money is needed and hence the corruption.
Practice of dowry has resulted in the break down of the sacred institutions of marriage. Brides are humiliated or are tortured for not offering dowry as demanded by the groom’s side.
In this worsening scenario, onus lies on the youth of today who have to think rationally. They should select their spouses on merits of compatability and rise above parochial mind set. They should take the help of anti dowry act which is already in force.
Ramesh K Raina
Outdated UN Resolutions
This has reference to the news item ‘Hurriyat Conference on verge of split’ DE May 9.
The former Chairman Professor Abdul Gani Bhat has come under sharp criticism from separatists for speaking truth that UN resolutions in regard to Kashmir issue have lost relevance in view of the prevailing situation in the sub-continent and around the world.
Mr Bhat has reiterated what sometime back United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan had said.
Everybody concerned with the dispute knows that the solution to the Kashmir issue does not lie in the outdated resolutions but in accepting the fact that Kashmir is an integral part of India. The Kashmir issue got murkier only after Pakistan sponsored militancy in Kashmir by providing arms and ammunition to Kashmiri youth.
Even Pakistan knows that it is now not possible to implement the same as there are certain conditions which Pakistan can’t fulfill now, as it has occupied a major chunk of Kashmir illegally, and handed a portion of the same to China.
The separatists are not ready to accept the truth and have kept Kashmir issue alive for their vested interests.
Regularlize VDCs and SPOs
It is very strange that a time when the State Government is taking measures to facilitate the return of militants presently in Pakistan, and contemplating to rehabilitate them by providing them monetary assistance, it on the other hand has neglected the people who fought against militants at the risk of their lives. Take the case of VDCs and SPOs.
They have contributed immensely in restoring peace in the State as they fought militants at such places where security forces had no reach or their presence was very low.
These sons of the soil braved threats by militant, and chased them away from tough terrains but in return got only heart burns. Some of these VDCs were killed mercilessly by militants whenever they found an opportunity to do so. The Government too showed a cavelier attitude towards them. They were paid a meagre sum in lieu of their services. No other kind of assistance was extended to them by absorbing them in police or para-military forces. Presently, they are living a miserable life and need to be taken care of.