An audit by the government of India’s Rural Development Ministry has found several loopholes in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Act, guaranteeing 100 days of wage employment in a fiscal to every rural household whose adults opt for unskilled manual work, has J&K figuring in almost “all instances of negligence” in the last three fiscals.
As per the ministry’s National Level Monitoring (NLM) report, in 2016-17 fiscal, work was not provided within the stipulated time to the workers in 73 per cent of the villages audited in the state.
Wage disbursal, the NLM report said, was delayed by “more than a month” in 72 percent of the screened villages.
The report pointed out a “lack of adequate efforts to create awareness under MGNREGA” in J&K, while one-third of the job-card holders in the state did not actually possess the cards.
Many wage seekers in J&K, the report added, were not aware of the “provision of the acknowledgement receipt”.
“None of the wage seekers were aware of the entitlements about unemployment allowance in majority of the sample villages in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Uttarakhand states,” read the report.
The J&K’s dismal performance continues simultaneously to hundreds of crores rupees given to it by the government of India each year.
As per the official figures, the state received over Rs 3,000 crore since 2013 including Rs 646.03 crore in 2017-18, Rs 756.26 crore in 2016-17, Rs 545.04 crore in 2015-16, Rs 404.56 crore in 2014-15, and Rs 672.53 crore in 2013-14.
As part of effective implementation of MGNREGA, J&K’s Rural Development Department was supposed to set up an independent Social Audit Unit (SAU), which is, however, yet to be constituted.
The team is supposed to “ensure that the appropriate action, including initiating criminal and civil proceedings or termination of services, is initiated against an individual or class of individuals or persons who miss-utilise or embezzle the amount meant for the schemes under the Act”.
Also, J&K is among the few states yet to appoint ombudsmen, who would have a suo moto authority to look into complaints under MGNREGA.
Commissioner Secretary J&K Rural Development Department, Nirmal Sharma, told The Kashmir Monitor that they have filed their report to the Government of India in response to the NLM report.
On setting up of SAU, she said that the department has prepared a Memorandum of Association and sent it to the Law Department for approval.
“Once they approve it, we will register SAU as a society. I understand that we cannot delay it each year. We have already appointed the district coordinators for the SAU,” she said.
Kulbhushan Jadhav case: ICJ to deliver verdict today
New Delhi, Jul 16: The International Court of Justice will deliver on Wednesday its verdict in a case relating to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, whose death sentence by a Pakistani military court based on an “extracted confession” has been questioned by India.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017.
His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India. The ICJ, in a statement early this month, said a public sitting will take place at 3 pm (6.30 pm IST) on July 17 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which top judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will read out the verdict.
Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Muhammad Faisal last week said his country cannot “prejudge” the decision of the ICJ in the Jadhav’s case. “We cannot prejudge the judgment,” he said. He, however, said that Pakistan has fully contested the case before the ICJ.
India moved the ICJ in May 8, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.
A 10-member bench of the ICJ, which was set up after World War II to resolve international disputes, on May 18, 2017 had restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
A four-day public hearing in the high-profile case took place in February amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the deadliest militant attacks in J&K by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group that killed at least 40 CRPF soldiers on February 14. During the hearing in ICJ, both India and Pakistan submitted their detailed pleas and responses.
India based its case on two broad issues — breach of Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution. Harish Salve, who was representing India in the case, questioned the functioning of Pakistan’s notorious military courts and urged the top UN court to annul Jadhav’s death sentence, which is based on an “extracted confession”. In his submission in the ICJ on the last day of the hearing, Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi said, “India’s claim for relief must be dismissed or declared inadmissible.”
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
Pakistan had rejected India’s plea for consular access to Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wants the access to get the information gathered by its “spy”. However, Pakistan facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on December 25, 2017.
Kashmiri Sikhs hope for Kartarpur-like corridor to PaK Gurdwaras
Srinagar, Jul 16: Voices are growing for LoC corridor to allow Kashmiri Sikhs to visit historic Gurudwaras in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) akin to Kartapur sahib.
All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC), an apex body of Kashmiri Sikhs, said there are several Gurudwaras in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur, which are held in high reverence by Sikhs across the globe.
“One such Gurudwara of Guru Hargobind Singh, the sixth Sikh Guru, is located in Naluchi in the neighborhood of Muzaffarabad,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina, Chairman APSCC.
Raina said the Gurudwara has remained closed for the last 70 years and was partly damaged in October 2005 earth quake. “The Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara of Naluchi has been famous before partition when Sikhs in huge numbers from different parts of Kashmir used to go on a pilgrimage. Unfortunately, the Gurudwara has remained shut for the last 70 years and has now been converted into a police station,” he said.
Chairman APSCC said the Sikh community has asked Union Home Ministry to extend cross LoC Karvan-e-Aman bus up to Naluchi exclusively for the Sikh pilgrimage to the Gurudwara.
“We have written to MHA that people of different faiths live in Kashmir. A demand was made to allow Sikhs to go on a pilgrimage to PaK Gurudwaras,” Raina said.
The APSCC chairman said the Sikh body contacted Prime Minister of Muzaffarabad’s office in February and suggested 15 people who intend to undertake a pilgrimage to restore Gurudwara to its pristine glory.
“A journalist friend of mine helped us to take up the matter with the office of Prime Minister of Muzaffarabad. We later sent copies of 15 passports to Muzaffarabad PM’s office. We are following it up. We hope the pilgrimage will be allowed from Uri and Poonch side,” he said.
Ajit Singh Mastana who is one of 15 people who has enlisted for the pilgrimage, said sixth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Singh had stayed in Naluchi after visiting Kashmir’s Uri area.
“Chatti Padshahi Gurudwaras are built at a place where our sixth Guru Hargobind Singh Ji rested during his visit to Kashmir. At present we have Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara in Srinagar, Baramulla and Uri in Kashmir,” he said.
Mastana who heads Punjabi Sahitiya Sabha said many Sikhs families are yearning to go on a pilgrimage to the historic Gurudwaras in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. “The yatra should be allowed on the pattern of Kartapur,” he said.
JK has stronger case of non-application: Masoodi on NIA Bill
Srinagar, Jul 16: National Conference has opposed the NIA Amendment bill 2019 in the Parliament, saying the proposed amendment bill “infringes upon” the people’s right to liberty and life.
Participating in the debate Member of Parliament from Anantnag Hasnain Masoodi said the Parent Act of 2008 was not in tune with fundamental right of life and personal liberty.
“The amendment suffers from the same flaw. The Article 21 while guaranteeing right to life and personal liberty provides that a person can be deprived of life and personal liberty in accordance with procedure established by law and such procedure must be just, fair and reasonable,” he said.
Masoodi added: “The three fundamental principles are to be taken care of at the stage of investigation, trial as also sentence and its mode of execution. In case of NIA Act wide and unbridled powers were given to the Central Government to constitute the special court as per its choice. The wide and unguided powers under NIA Act have prompted selective use of the Act and setting up of Special Courts as per choice and in an arbitrary manner. Resultantly, the Act leaves scope for violation of right of access to justice, an integral part of right to life and personal liberty.”
Kashmir, Masoodi said, is a ready example of such violation, where people who are prosecuted find it very difficult to get access to justice.
“There is no court and justice seekers from far flung areas are left without access to justice. While in case of other states NIA Act is said to trespass State list. In case of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no State list and all powers except those given by it to Centre belonged to State, there is a stronger case of non-application of NIA Act to State,” he said while participating in the debate.
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