The spark set alight by veteran social worker Anna Hazare against corruption continues to motivate activists in Kashmir. A vigil was held by dozens of social activists in Srinagar on Sunday, to put pressure on the government to get serious about the “monster called corruption”.
“The work is on to finalise the Lokpal Bill draft in the Centre. Since Kashmir has separate a constitution we want a parallel process to draft an anti-corruption legislation,” said well-known RTI activist Muzaffar Bhat, a doctor by profession, while sitting on a vigil in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area, along with other activists.
The activists demand that a joint panel of civil society and the government be formulated to draft a legislation to tackle corruption on the line of the Lokpal bill. “We demand a join panel. A retired judge from the government side with MLAs, MLCs and both ruling and opposition parties’ leaders should be the panel members. The government can also include other legislators. From the civil society, lawyers, teachers, professors and other should represent the common man,” said Bhat.
The vigil was supported by the J&K RTI Movement, the Pensioner’s Welfare Association, the Kashmir Revolutionary Student Group, the Senior Citizens Civil Society, Youth Parliament of J&K, Kashmir Economic Alliance and other civil society groups. The activists were carrying banners like ‘Enough is enough’, ‘Book corruption officials and ministers under the Public Safety Act (PSA)’.
“No more excuses from the government about anti-corruption legislation,” shouted an activists. “We are not second class citizens. We expect the same as those in the rest of India, which will benefit from the Lokpal drafting committee’s work,” said Bhat.
The activists demanded a drafting committee to comprehensively study and make recommendations for the State Vigilance Commission Act of 2011, the State Accountability Commission Act of 2003, the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act of 1946 and the the Lokpal legislation being drafted at Centre.
“Our laws are too weak to take on corrupt persons. Since we top corrupt states of India, we need a tougher legislation. Harsh PSA should be used against the corrupt. Our anti-corruption bodies should not be just recommendatory bodies but should be able to take disciplinary action,” said Bhat, who cleared that the J&K RTI movement does not intend to be part of the panel, but will help in identifying genuine people from the civil society.
“We have already written to chief minister Omar Abdullah several times. If the CM is serious to nip corruption then he should deliver now. We can also take help of anti-corruption laws in vogue in other countries to make our legislation to deliver positively,” said Bhat.
A survey on corruption has put Jammu and Kashmir on second number in India.