“In our hospital, people pay and employees take bribe to prepare a false medical certificate,” says a Facebook (FB) update.
“I took bribe for giving marks certificates to students,” says another FB update.
In the country’s second most corrupt state, Jammu and Kashmir, webpage Kashmir Corruption Watch (KCW) on social networking site Facebook is opening up a window for people to share corrupt practices. Buoyed by the response, the initiative is fast turning into a movement with its members starting essay competition for schoolchildren.
“We confront corrupt practices from morning to evening, from safaiwalla’s work to professional exams. So our initiative is aimed at weeding out the practice, which is fast becoming part of normal life and a social value,” says Dr Rubina Lone, assistant professor at Sher-i-Kashmir Medical Sciences College in Srinagar, and also administrator of the page.
A foreign trip to United Kingdom motivated Lone to start the initiative last year. “I went to London and realized how brutal our societies are turning because of corruption. Merit is damned to darkness and only crooked with corrupt tendencies make it big,” said Lone adding, “it’s start of a downfall of our society”.
The online initiative has given a hope to anti-corruption champions in the valley. “Our page has become confession box for people. I was surprised to see people sharing their corrupt practices. Though one of doctors faced official and colleagues’ wrath when he wrote about corruption in his hospital,” says Lone.
Buoyed by 2,400 members in just one year, the KCW has attracted valley’s known professionals and civil society members, which actively debate day-to-day corrupt practices eating into vital institutions of the state. Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s media advisor Farooq Nazki is among the members, besides doctors, students, businessmen and media persons.
After carrying out an on-line survey on corrupt practices, the KCW is aiming at catching people young to make a change. “We are in touch with the valley’s known schools. The process to hold an essay competition on various aspects of corruption is on. We are getting a good feed back. The best essays will get prize money, raised by the members only,” says Lone.
On May 15, the members plan to do a candle-lit vigil on the banks of the Dal lake to highlight against corruption.
With 2012 throwing up scam after scam in the state, the KCW, according to Lone, has become “a space to given vent to frustration and helplessness”.
“But from social space, the initiative is fast turning into a social movement,” says Lone.
The popularity of the group, which is spiteful at times in comments on corrupt politicians and institutions, has come under police scanner too.
“I was grilled by a police officer at my residence. First my mother, who was alone was, she was pestered. The police enquired about me and my family credentials,” alleged Lone.
But, Lone said, she will go ahead with her initiative and keep campaigning against corruption in the state.