A Calendar of Scandals

It was a year of scandals and corruption cases involving sitting ministers and top bureaucrats in Jammu and Kashmir. The statusquo, however, prevailed. The state government, instead of showing that it was not going to tolerate muck within its fold, clipped the wings of corruption watchdog, SAC, Bilal Handoo reports.

As They Said…

“Third Front Will Be An Initiative Of Different Political Ideologies”

Ghulam Hassan Mir, the agriculture minister told Kashmir Life in an interview.

 

While 2012 was largely peaceful on security front in Jammu and Kashmir, it was not so peaceful for a good number of bureaucrats and ministers. From the ‘examgate’ scandal that cost former J&K education minister, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed dearly, to the ‘land grab’ scandal involving PHE minister Taj Mohiuddin, scandals kept the bureaucracy and government on their toes throughout the year. In between, the scams of past resurfaced and met a sudden death.

As J&K Police’s Crime Branch concluded that there were irregularities in the answer-sheets of Peerzada’s foster son’s who passed Class 10 exam in 2009, the red-faced Congress minister said the issue has been raked up to malign his image. Though he was divested of Education ministry portfolio, he retained his berth in Abdullah’s council of ministers. The scandal got a new twist when Peerzada said his resignation was not accepted by the party high command, raising eye brows on the will of the state coalition government to punish the corrupt within their fold. At one time, under severe pressure to resign, Peerzada almost threatened the survival of the coalition government when he said, “I was nominated by the Congress party and was given education portfolio. I am answerable to the party.”

Peerzada was not an exception to the muck prevailing within the coalition government. His party mate, Taj Mohiuddin soon was accused of land grab in the autumn session of state council. A miffed Taj hurriedly convened a press conference at the sidelines of running session of assembly where he said: “The ministers have become worst than prostitutes.” Truly sir!

As the issue went viral, a desperate Taj claimed that the State Accountability Commission (SAC) which was probing charges against him, had given him a clean chit for which he was first slapped with a contempt notice and consequently charges were framed against him.

A scandal also surfaced in JK Cricket Association (JKCA) in March this year when the lid blew off from the financial irregularities taking place at the association. The scandal not only put JKCA officials in the line of fire but also threatened to drag the association’s president, Dr Farooq Abdullah into the issue who, in his usual style dismissed the allegations, “I have never handled money. I am open to any investigation.”

While scandals kept making headlines, the process of accountability suffered a severe blow when the state government submitted to judiciary to take away suo-moto powers of SAC and thus rendered it spineless. The step, many argued, was taken to shield corrupt bigwigs.

The Commission which was formed in 2004 has never been even effectively operational. The seriousness of the state government to deal with issues of corruption by empowering SAC can be gauged from the fact that from April 2008 to May 2011, the SAC was nonfunctional for the want of a chairperson.

The much vaunted scandal of the year, however, had its roots in Doordarshan Srinagar that subsequently led to the unceremonious exit former director, Shami Shair. Shair was shown the door after she was found ‘patronizing’ a woman anchoring ‘Good Morning J&K’, who was caught in an objectionable position with a former National Conference legislator. Shair, once again, brought the malaise feeding the once glorious television centre to the forefront.

Shair is being investigated by the CBI for her alleged role in five corruption cases within Doordarshan Srinagar. She also played an instrumental role in granting propaganda programs to her relatives including her niece, Naila Neelofar, who was recently suspended from BOSE services.

Besides patronizing culprits, a 26 year long investigation by State Vigilance Organization was rejected by chief minister Omar Abdullah and an FIR against the present Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir was withdrawn. A Law Minister in 1984, Mir had allegedly appointed 50 persons illegally without adhering to the norms. Surprisingly, the official communiqu? dubbed Mir’s case a more than three decades old and ‘irrelevant’. As if the scandals and cases of corruption were not enough, former divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal, who was accused in the notorious ‘Gulmarg Land Scam, joined PDP this year. Clearly, the muck is increasing by the day!

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