Growing Intolerance Against Corruption

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Anantnag: Voters stand in long queue to cast their votes in the 4th phase of the J&K Assembly Elections at Shangus in South Kashmir on Sunday. PTI Photo (PTI12_14_2014_000055A) *** Local Caption ***

People Submitting Proof To Anti Corruption Bureau To Nab Corrupt Officers

 Bashir Assad

The political narrative of Kashmir Badal Raha Hain can be contested, and the political class would refute the narrative. But there are some indicators, physical and social, suggesting that there is growing intolerance among the masses against corruption and the corrupt.

In the recent past, the same people would accept corruption as a norm. Those who were against corruption would submit to it as fait accompli. The shift that has happened is that now, people in large numbers come forward and identify those in the system who are corrupt.

If we go by the data available on the website of Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau, the trend of laying the trap by ordinary citizens is picking up. This shows that people are no more ready to accept corruption as the norm.

There are two factors which have boosted the morale of the common man to reject corrupt practices and ask for redressal of their grievances on transparent basis. Firstly, the digitization of official records has restored the confidence of the people in holding the government officials and functionaries accountable.

The Revenue Department particularly was the most corrupt department. This is because of the immense reach of the department. A sizable part of the adult population of the union territory comprises the clientage of the department. That is why the department has been the hub of corrupt practices.

Major Impact Of Digitization Of Revenue Records 

The digitization of revenue records has to a great extent helped in reducing corruption in the revenue department. The digitization has brought down the intervention of corrupt officials in deciding the merit each case by many knots.

Citizens admit that the level of corruption has phenomenally gone down in the department because digitization has regulated the delivery system. Now, a number of cases of the common people pertaining to the Revenue Department are disposed of within a stipulated time period.

It is evident that it shall take time before the old corrupt practices of the revenue department finally end. The department was so entrenched and neck-deep in corruption despite digitization of the records, corrupt officials still find ways to harass the common citizens.

A major reason why the old corrupt practices of Revenue Department are continuing is that the important element in mutations – the Fard – is still manually handled by a Patwari. It is here that the common man is under compulsion to submit to the corrupt persons in the department.  The whole effort of bringing in transparency in the functioning of the Revenue Department gets stalled here.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see that more and more people are refusing to pay bribe. The Anti- Corruption Bureau has been active in taking action against the corrupt officials. From time to time, traps are laid for corrupt officials while accepting bribe from the common citizens for their work pertaining to the department.

People Providing Info To Corruption Watchdog

The department is able to lay these traps because more and more people are providing information to the corruption watch dog. The trend is now unmistakable that people come forward on their own to discourage corrupt practices.

In recent past, Anti Corruption Bureau has arrested dozens of corrupt officers of various departments while accepting bribes. These officers are being caught because people are no more willing to pay bribe for the resolution of their legitimate works at the concerned department.

High Awareness Among Kashmiris Regarding Eradicating Corruption

 

Sources said that the people, particularly the youth, approach ACB in large numbers on daily basis. The complaint made by most people is that the government officials demand bribe from them.

Sources added that it is highly encouraging to see youngsters coming forward in large numbers to help the state in nailing the corrupt officers. The number of cases registered against corrupt officers after laying a trap against them is quite high in Kashmir region as compare to the Jammu region. This is because there is more awareness among the masses in Kashmir as far as eradicating corruption in the system is concerned.

As per data on the official website of Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau, 49 cases against corrupt officers have been registered in Kashmir division during the first half of 2022. For the same period, only 17 cases were registered in Jammu division.

The data on the website clearly indicates that people are breaking their silence and are not ready to tolerate corruption anymore. People are fed up of being harassed for their legitimate works.

From small villages to big cities, there is high awareness among the common masses in Kashmir that they do not need to pay bribe. It is being observed that people prefer to wait to get their works done in due course of time, rather than pay bribe.

The new trend which is emerging is that in the government offices if any employee demands bribe, people are refusing to pay it. They want that their grievances should be addressed legally, and there should not be any illegal activity in the redressal.

Some departments which have high public interaction continue to harbour corrupt officials. For example, there are many corrupt officials in the Power Department, who demand bribe from the consumers. They harass particularly those consumers who have not cleared their dues, and whose billing amount has gone up.

The corrupt officials often tell these consumers with long-pending dues that if you give us a part of the amount, we shall reduce your total billing amount. The consumer, in the greed of paying a lesser amount, agrees to pay bribe. But there are also instances where the consumers have preferred to pay the full dues against them to teach a lesson to the corrupt employee that they are not ready for corrupt practices.

Mobile Phone Cameras Used To Trap Corrupt Officials

Such cases are now coming to the fore from many departments like Revenue, Rural development Departments, Municipalities and Gram Panchayats. There are instances where the commoners initially agree to pay bribe. But at the time of paying the corrupt people, they record the transaction on their mobile phone cameras and make a video of it.

ACB officers say that it is a very healthy trend that people are

 or record the conversation with the phone recorder and make it as an evidence to trap the corrupt. From last six months it has been seen that many employees including some top officials were arrested on the charges of corruption. In some villages Sarpanch who also holds the position of Drawing and Disbursing Officer were arrested on the charges of corruption and same had been caught red handed on the complaints registered by the people.

What Makes Kashmir Score Significantly Over Jammu In Registration of Anti-Corruption Cases?

Six months of 2022.

Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) registers 49 cases against corrupt officers in Kashmir, and 17 cases in Jammu.

The figure for Kashmir is three times the figure for Jammu. ACB officials admit that this is because Kashmiris have warmed up to the anti-corruption campaign at the grassroots level. More and more Kashmiris, especially the youth, are coming up with videos and other irrefutable proof of corrupt officers accepting bribe. This is enabling the department to lay the trap and catch the corrupt officials red-handed.

What is the reason for the higher popularity of the anti-corruption drive in Kashmir as compared to Jammu? What does it indicate of us as a people?

It is indicative that despite long years of turmoil and instability, Kashmiris have an innate innocence that values virtues like honesty and personal integrity.

Old timers talk of how innocent and open the Kashmir society used to be. Years of conflict have taken their toll upon our society, but our DNA remains the same. Deep down, we continue to cherish the ideals of fairness and justice. This is the reason why our youth are refusing to normalize corruption.

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