Probe Security related expenditure

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
After the onset of armed insurgency in  1990’s , Government of India  pumped in billions of rupees into Jammu & Kashmir , but nobody knows where this money has gone ? Right from early 90’s the focus of all the regimes in New Delhi has been on security related issues in J&K. As large amount of money continued to be released towards J&K state for maintaining peace and security, the graph of corruption on the other hand increased drastically. This unprecedented increase in corruption graph is directly related to lack of accountability and transparency of  Government institutions in J&K under the garb of security , law & order.  Even after the enactment of Right to Information Act (RTI) , Government authorities especially those who have been direct beneficiaries of  funds in the name of peace and security are reluctant to make proactive disclosure about  the utilization of this huge chunk of money.
MHA’s  report :
As per the recent report of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) around  7300  crore rupees (seven thousand three hundred crores)  have been released in favor of Jammu and Kashmir government  from 1990 onwards  under the Security RelatedExpenditure(SRE). This expenditure includes financial assistance to local police plus  relief and rehabilitation of people especially the Kashmiri Pandit migrants. The report reveals that Rs 4735.51 crores  have been reimbursed to Jammu & Kashmir Police  under SRE (P) and Rs 2472.45 under Relief and Rehabilitation – SRE (R&R) till March  2015.
The Security Related Expenditure (SRE) which is a special budgetary provision of Government of India was introduced after the outbreak of armed insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir way back 1990. The aim of this funding was to help J&K state to  fight  insurgency and  maintenance of  law and order. During last financial year alone an amount of  Rs 287.94 crore was released under SRE (P) to J&K Police and Rs 160 crore under SRE (R&R) towards Kashmiri pandit migrants under Relief and Rehabilitation. The taxpayers across India including people of  Jammu & Kashmir have been kept in total dark, as they hardly have any information as to how these funds were utilized ?  People don’t know who are the actual beneficiaries of this huge amount of money.
Pertinent to mention that Security Related Expenditure for Police ie SRE (P) is meant for supporting  the logistical requirements of J&K Police. This includes expenditure incurred on  material , supplies , carriage of constabulary, rent and accommodation hired for security forces, border posts, honorarium paid to Special Police Officials (SPO’s) , members of Village Defence Committees (VDC’s) ,  creation and maintenance of armed police battalions (IR battalions) , airlift charges, construction of alternate arrangements , security works by police department and expenditure incurred on detainees lodged in various jails.
The Security Related Expenditure for Relief & Rehabilitation ie  SRE (R&R) includes funds spent on providing financial assistance to Kashmiri pandit migrants that includes monthly cost assistance, ex-gratia payment, pension to civilians killed in militancy related violence, scholarships to orphans affected by militancy and the expenditure towards PM’s package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants.
No voluntary disclosure of SRE :
Under section 4 (1) (b) of Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act (J&K RTI Act 2009) all the public authorities in J&K state are under legal obligation  to make voluntary disclosure of various things as mandated under the said act within 120 days of enactment of RTI Act. This provision is included in central RTI Act (RTI Act 2005)  as well. The voluntary disclosure includes funding received from Government of India and details of its utilization. But the public authorities in Jammu & Kashmir have miserably failed to disclose proactively the details of Security Related Expenditure (SRE) on their official websites. Even the Governor of J&K N N Vohra had directed the Government for disclosing SRE  details voluntarily (suo-moto disclosure) on official websites of Government departments during Governors rule in Feb 2015 , but his orders have been turned down by many Government departments which includes office of the Relief Commissioner  (Migrants) , Home Department , J&K Police and offices of the Divisional Commissioner Jammu / Kashmir . These offices as per information provided by MHA have been receiving funds from Ministry of Home Affairs under Security Related Expenditure (SRE). J&K Police, DC office Ramban and Poonch  have recently uploaded some information about SRE utilization on their official websites, but complete details have not been put in public domain.
Pertinently the State Information Commission (SIC) had also repeatedly directed the J&K Government right from 2010 to ensure voluntary disclosure under section 4 (1) (b) of State RTI Act, but instead of taking SIC’s orders seriously , National Conference lead Government in August 2012 curtailed the powers of State Information Commission (SIC) by repealing J&K RTI Rules 2010. Pertinently J&K RTI Rules of 2010 gave SIC  enough autonomy and prosecution powers. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was in opposition that time had shown its great resentment over the Government’s move to curtail SIC’s powers. As the party is in power now , we hope they will restore 2010 RTI Rules as soon as possible.
It is worthwhile to mention that New Delhi based NGO , Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) had written a letter to J&K Governor in January this year about  failure of public authorities to disclose  proactively as to how SRE funds were utilized and who have been its beneficiaries in J&K ? Venkatesh Nayak from CHRI had obtained all these details under RTI  from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA ) in December 2014. Venkatesh sought details about the funds provided to J&K  during  2013 and 2014 under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) . As funding provided to state was beyond imagination (Rs 1000 crore aprox) with no accountability Nayak was compelled to write to J&K Governor at a time when J&K State was put under Governors rule (Jan – Feb 2015)  .
Conclusion  :
I have no hesitation in saying that corruption has gained unprecedented proportions in Jammu and Kashmir from the last two decades. There is no punitive, remedial or reformative action available in the system. The youth in the state are frustrated and restive. They seem to have no role models in society and feel bewildered. We hope under the leadership of  Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed things may change in Jammu & Kashmir.  The recent move of J&K Government to prematurely retire 61 corrupt and tainted Government officials is being hailed among the social circles , but this is not enough. Government has to do lot more exercise for providing corruption free and  transparent governance. CM must order an inquiry into funds provided to J&K under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) right from 1990 onwards.


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