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Centre, JK agree to defer Panchayat polls, again?

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 26: Long-due Panchayat polls expected to be held next month have once again been postponed, official sources revealed to The Kashmir Monitor.
The deferment, sources say, has come after PDP-BJP coalition “mutually agreed that delaying the polls was necessary to avoid deteriorating the situation ahead of the 2018 summer”.
“The Chief Minister has already informed New Delhi about it. The issue was also discussed on Sunday, when BJP’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav, met with J&K Governor, NN Vohra,” a source said.
Interestingly, the decision has come weeks after the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had earlier informed the governor that the elections were going to be held from February 15.
Sources said the shift was a result of the “general goodwill that the government believes to have developed with the budget”.
“The budget, more or less, has received a positive feedback. The alliance does not want to spoil it by conducting the elections, which, given the recent experience, can become a major law and order issue,” they say.
Sources added that the CM, during her recent visit to New Delhi, apprised Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, of the same, and both of them agreed on deferring the polls.
The meeting, sources said, was followed by BJP’s point-man rushing to Jammu to convey the same to the governor, who had, in November last year, spoken against any further delay in the polls.
The second reason for delaying the polls, sources say, was the issue of the security of the candidates expected to be in the fray.
Opposition as well as the Panchayat members of the state recently expressed their apprehensions following separatists’ call for a boycott of the polls and warning by militants.
Earlier this month, an audio clip of a purported conversation between two Hizb militants went viral on social media, in which a commander of the outfit asked the cadres to pour acid into the eyes of the candidates.
Corroborating the sources, Shafiq Mir, chairman of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), told The Kashmir Monitor that given the “lack of preparedness from the government, it did not seem that they were in a mood to conduct the elections”.
“They should have come out with the notification by now, which they have not,” he said.
Mir added they were “ready” for the polls.
However, he said, it was the responsibility of the government to provide a secure environment for it.
“If they can’t create a suitable environment for it, they should not be in power. Deferring it again means the political system of the state does not want a parallel institution that may curtail its own powers. So, in garb of security situation, they, time and again, delay the polls,” he said.
The panchayat elections in J&K have already been delayed since 2016.
Not forming an ideal precedent to it, the April 2017 Srinagar Lok Sabha election, with eight civilian casualties and over 200 incidents of protest, proved enough bloody to cancel a similar one in Anantnag.


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Govt directs DCs, SSPs to provide security to Panchayat members

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 22: Waking up to militant threats, Jammu and Kashmir government has directed district development commissioners and district police chiefs to provide security cover to Panches and Sarpanches during their visit to respective constituencies. 

The Kashmir Monitor had broken the story about Panchayat members’ reluctance to visit their constituencies due to alleged militant threats.

A top source in the divisional commissioner Kashmir’s office said Sarpanches and Panches have told government that they are scared to visit their constituencies.

 

“They have told the government they live under constant fear and are unable to review the developmental works,” he said.

Sensing danger, the government directed district development commissioners and district police chiefs to make adequate security plan for Panches and Sarpanches during their visit to constituencies.

“Prior to their visit, they have to inform the concerned SHOs so that necessary security arrangements are put in place,” the source added.

Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, and Security, Munir Ahmad Khan, said directives have gone to DCs and SSPs to ensure security of Panches and Sarpanches.

“Wherever they (Panches and Sarpanches) need security, they can approach concerned SSPs and DCs. They have been assured of security cover when they intend to visit their respective constituencies,” Khan told The Kashmir Monitor.

Centre has announced to release Rs 3700 crore for Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, of which around Rs 1000 crore stand released so far.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently stressed for empowerment of Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir.

 Panchayats, in addition to being involved in the selection of eligible beneficiaries for various government welfare schemes, can get Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh per year for implementation of key national schemes such as the National Health Mission, Samagra Shiksha, etc.

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ACB registers 60 cases in 2019: Top babus, politicians under investigation for graft

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 22:  Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has gone whole hog against corrupt politicians and government officials and registered 60 cases under different anti-graft laws in 2019 across Jammu and Kashmir.

Official details accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that the ACB has registered 29 cases in Kashmir and 31 in Jammu in 2019 so far. Some of the cases have been registered against top politicians and bureaucrats in the state.

Cases were registered against deputy mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, J&K Bank and government officials for “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama”.

 

The anti-graft has also registered a case against former chairman of the bank for allegedly misusing his position. A case has also been registered against former Director Archives and Archaeology Department for allegedly misusing his position by ordering enhancement of consolidated wages without authorization.  

A case has also been registered against former directors of Rural Development Department Jammu for allegedly misusing official position and causing loss to state exchequer. The anti-graft body has also registered a case against former Managing Director JAKFED for misuse of official position.  It has registered a case against a Naib Tehsildar in Srinagar for allegedly misuse of official position.

The anti-graft body has registered a case against former senior town planner and former commissioner municipal corporation Jammu.  They have been booked for alleged criminal misconduct, abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants.

The ACB has also booked Divisional Manager of State Forest Corporation (SFC) Udhampur in a graft case. A case has also been registered against former Assistant Commissioner Development, Rajouri on corruption charges.

Last year, Governor Administration set up ACB to combat corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.  Later The ACB was given more teeth to take on highly influential people.

An official of ACB said that there are complaints against several top government officials for their involvement in corruption. “Some are still at an initial stage and action would be taken in next few weeks,” he said

Governor Satya Pal Malik had said that “Anti-Corruption Bureau won’t spare anyone even those who are part of big political parties.”

Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam had said the establishment of ACB would do away with the shortcomings and multiplicity of roles in the existing anti-corruption mechanism operational in the state.

“The ACB has been empowered. It is as powerful as CBI. The government has strengthened the ACB so it acts against powerful people,” he had said.

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Govt employees of UTs of J&K, Ladakh to get all 7th CPC allowances from October 31

Monitor News Bureau

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SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 22: The Union government on Tuesday issued orders announcing that the employees of the new Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — will get salaries and other benefits as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission from October 31.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has approved the proposal of payment of all 7th CPC allowances to the government employees of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, which shall come into existence from October 31, 2019.

The move will benefit 4.5 lakh government employees who are working in the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir and will become the employees of UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh from 31 October 2019.

 

The annual financial implications of 7th CPC allowances like Children Education Allowance, Hostel Allowance, Transport Allowance, LTC, Fixed Medical Allowance etc in respect of 4.5 lakh government employees of existing State of J&K shall be Rs 4800 crore tentatively.

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