Epilogue Blog Writer
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says that he does not intend to create an anti-graft hullabaloo campaign but will not tolerate corruption defaming name of Jammu and Kashmir State at national level.
A strong critic of the regimes of his predecessors Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad when Jammu and Kashmir “clinched top positions on corruption”, Omar said corruption has to be eradicated in a systemic manner with apolitical approach and means. He asked officials to ensure that the state does not get the ignominy of being named the most corrupt.
The Chief Minister asked officers of the State Vigilance Commission, the anti-graft agency in the state, not to allow that day to appear in Jammu and Kashmir's calendar.
Omar Abdullah, who during his role as president of the then opposition National Conference had criticized the Peoples Democratic Party-Congress rule for its failure to check corruption in the state. Transparency International listed the state as number two among the most corrupt states, and Abdullah was equally ruthless in denouncing this tag at a conference of vigilance officers in Jammu.
"The fact of the matter is that Jammu and Kashmir has been listed as number two among the most corrupt 22 states in India and I am afraid that if this trend continues that day is not far off when J&K would be on the top of the list."
"That is not acceptable to me at all," the chief minister said in a stern tone.
Omar chose the occasion of the Vigilance Officers' Conference to give vent to his feelings, as reports continue to pour in of corrupt practices of officers and some ministers.
As president of the ruling National Conference and in his role as the main opposition voice, he had been severely critical of the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad governments for allowing corruption to peak.
Issuing a wake-up call to vigilance officers, the chief minister said firmly Thursday that corruption needs to be checked effectively and the Vigilance Commission needed to gear itself to the task.
Asserting that eradication of corruption is on the top of his agenda, Chief Minister said that whether it is a question of issuing minor license, ration cards, state subject certificates or execution of small or mega works, the corrupt elements use all these public-oriented works as the means of their corruption. ‘I will be happier when big trap is executed where high profile corrupt elements are caught red handed while receiving lakhs of rupees under the table/. He said he as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State will ensure that no political patronage is given to any such corrupt person.
The Chief Minister said that corrupt elements are being charged and suspended, but later on they maneuver their return back to their position. However, he said that law is required to be amended in such a manner that from the first day of charge against them they do no find any entry back in the services. He lamented that in case it is true that some transfers in some departments take place after paying bribe then it is time for the Vigilance Department to apprehend such persons without any delay.
Omar advised Vigilance Department to remain highly alert on this account and detect such people without any hesitation adding that they will have full support from his side for apprehending such persons.
The Chief Minister said that one should realize that the person is innocent till proved guilty and added that mere allegations are not proof against a person to declare him corrupt one. Therefore, Vigilance Officers have to make thorough probe meticulously in depth, study in all cases of corruption and ensure that their cases are strong enough, based on full-proofs so that the State is able to prove its case in the judiciary and succeed in penalizing such persons through judicial practices and seize the benefits and property accumulated by them through corrupt process.
The Chief Minister said that on every last Thursday of January and last Thursday of July DVOs Conference should be held so that substantive progress made during the period should be discussed and highlighted. He said that involvement of mass media has also become necessary as battle against corruption can be fought on pages of newspapers and small screen of TVs and channels as well so that people start hating corruption as well as corrupt elements.