Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: Over a decade back, when the so-called Chief Minister’s Grievance Cell was set up to address the peoples’ governance and developmental complaints in a fast track course, grievances from the public flooded in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat. In the absence of a proper, scientific mechanism to check veracity of the complaints against the public servants, coupled with the absence of an organised follow-up system, the Grievance Cell became defunct not only in the three Chief Ministers’ successive regimes but also during long spells of the Governor’s and the President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir.Consequently, many smart guys discovered the lucrative business of promoting and demoting the careers and postings of selective officials and officers by way of misusing the Grievance Cell. On one occasion, there was a ‘direction’ to the then Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam to (selectively) bring down residential houses and commercial structures of certain individuals. Soon it became clear that the complaint had been filed as a part of mischief by the then opposition party selectively against the then ruling party supporters.A few self pro claimed leaders misused the cell for their vested interest by lodging false complaints in a bid to blackmail their targeted adversaries. Most of their complaints were vague and fake. No serious effort has been made to evaluate the veracity of the complaints.A lady Minister of the then ruling party saw through the mischief and warned the DC against demolishing the “unauthorised” structures selectively. She raised questions as to why there was no mention in the complaint about the equal number of the “unauthorised” structures raised by the activists of an opposition party. The Minister had to put in considerable efforts to fail the opposition’s mischief.In Budgam district, a senior official of the Planning Department applied for fresh passports for himself and his two sons and a daughter in the age group of 18-23 years. One of two of the family’s applicants had already taken passports which had expired after 10 years. During the Police verification, the local CID office reported that the officer’s “step cousin” had worked as a “militant” for 15 days and surrendered in 1992. On account of this “adverse report”, all passports to the family were denied as there was not “necessary clearance” from the Police Department.After the Planning Department officer’s multiple efforts to get a passport for Hajj and an integrated pilgrimage failed, he submitted a formal grievance to CM’s Grievance Cell. He narrated that he and his family had no links to the 1992-brand 15-day “militant” who accidentally happened to be his “step cousin”. He submitted that he and his family had migrated to a different town and had been living there continuously since the days none of his children had been born. He mentioned that his son had been duly issued Police verification and given a Passport over a decade back and thus denying him fresh passport was violation of the fundamental right.The helpless officer also pointed out the boy enlisted as a “militant” had himself been recruited into the government service and he had been issued character verification from the Police and CID upon entering the public service. Nobody listened to him. Contrarily, there were extraneous questions from CM’s Grievance Cell.Fortunately, the Planning Officer had served a term in Budgam when the IG CID of Mr Omar Abdullah’s government had served as SSP in the same district.
Both knew each other till years later. It was only after the Planning Officer met with the IG CID and explained to him the whole tribulation that his case was processed. It was just his good luck of acquaintance that the CID headquarters released clearance in favour of all his family members and subsequently the Regional Passport Office Kashmir issued their Passports.It was a matter of public knowledge that professional mischief mongers and blackmailers, who had been masquerading either as ‘journalists’ or ‘RTI activists’, abused so-called CM’s Grievance Cell for years. They were known to be blackmailing officers and extorting money from them. All the stories in the media fell on deaf ears of the successive regimes.As regards the genuine and factual complaints, unfortunately again, there was no fact checking, follow-up or action taken report submission system in place. Because of this sham of the grievance redress cell, people in general failed to develop any faith for the system. For years, these cells were reduced to dumping grounds of unwanted officials. It was because of these mischiefs that some hardworking officers of high integrity were dumped in cells on complaints and communications from CM’s Secretariat. On the other hand, unscrupulous corrupt officers managed to grab prize postings.Lieutenant Governor’s Grievance Cell is bound to meet the same fate if a proper, transparent mechanism to first check facts and veracity of the complaints and applications is not checked. LG Manoj Sinha has learned at dozens of meetings with mediapersons, civil society and social activists that there was near-total disconnect between the government and the people. He has assured everybody that his officers and bureaucrats would be forced to be accessible and responsive to the public.In case there is any seriousness in hearing and redressing the peoples’ complaints and grievances, the LG’s government should set up a team of officers, drawn from Department of Information, Cyber Cell, CID, ACB and Crime Branch, who should be made responsible for taking cognizance and holding preliminary verifications of not only the written complaints, particularly the anonymous ones, but also reports carried by different newspapers, news agencies and TV channels. This team of officers in LG’s Grievance Cell should also take cognizance of the Tweets and Facebook posts of responsible persons-particularly senior journalists, lawyers, social activists, retired public servants and judges-put out in the public interest.Each complaint and well-founded input must be properly logged and every follow-up action must be entered in the movement register. This could go a long way in getting the peoples’ genuine grievances redressed.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui on playing different shades of lower middle class men: It makes me feel rich
‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ is timeless: Kajol on film’s 25th anniversary
Aamir Khan, Renuka Shahane and others pay tributes to India’s first Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya
Sarah Shahi to star in ‘Black Adam’
Akshay Kumar starts filming YRF’s Prithviraj’
© 2020 State Times Daily Newspaper