Food supply department of Jammu and Kashmir did seem some reforms during the previous tenure of Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) Zulfikar Choudhary but these reforms failed to address issue of deep-rooted corruption in the department. Those involved know well how to loot. They know well how the modern gadgetry could be bypassed to ensure loot continues unabated.
After having remained out of business for about two months, Zulfikar is back in-command of the department. Now is the time to initiate serious corrective measures for bringing transparency and accountability in the department. Government should start by initiating action against all those officials who have cases against them. A few were declared deadwood during the tenure of late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
But there was general consensus that those declared deadwood were small fishes and that the big sharks had been left out. The new dispensation should start its anti-corruption crusade from the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) department. Those who have embezzled ration meant for people of the state especially those living Below Poverty Line (BPL) should be taken to task. Their mode for building palatial bungalows and purchasing costly cars should be probed.
How they are living lavish life should be probed. More importantly, the two departments i.e. Crime Branch and State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) should be asked to speed-up their probe reports. They should be told strictly to adhere to a timeline and conclude cases against those thugs of CAPD who looted the department brazenly, were never taken to task, were booked but not penalized and are still enjoying prize postings.
Government needs to come out of the ‘deterrent’ mindset which keenly pursues lodging FIR against the accused but cares little about ensuring that the accused is penalized and put behind the bars. Policy should be not to only lodge FIR but initiate recovery of embezzled funds. The officers should be made to pay for having deceived the commoners and looted the state exchequer. If those who chant anti-national slogans can be booked under sedition, what stops the government from booking these Sarkari thugs under the same act since they play with the lives of the people.
SVO and Crime Branch officials should be strictly told not to show any laxity towards these corrupt and nepotist elements who have virtually destroyed the food supply department. None should be given any relief. The department should call for details of the postings of these corrupt officials and find out who is shielding them and how do they manage to get postings of their choice. The new government should stop talking and start acting on the complaints without worrying about the mechanism and mode from which they are getting them.