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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dental surgeon among 1,000 appointed fraudulently in J&K Health Department

Anantnag leads but fake appointment scam spread over 12 districts; Bribe money worth Rs 1.00 Lakh to 2.00 Lakh collected from each ‘appointee’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 10: Over a dozen senior and middle-rung officers of Department of Health Services, including Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and Block Medical Officers (BMOs), have fraudulently appointed nearly one thousand men and women in at least 12 districts of Jammu & Kashmir in the last four years against bribe money ranging between Rs 1.00 Lakh to Rs 2.00 Lakh from each beneficiary. Those appointed fraudulently include a lady dental surgeon and hundreds of women appointed or “regularized” on Class 3rd and Class 4th vacancies.

Well-placed authoritative sources today revealed exclusively to Early Times that that it was, in fact, “wrong distribution” of the bribe money collected from the beneficiaries that led to exposure of the state’s largest recruitment scandal, next only to the one previously exposed and hushed up in Local Bodies. Insiders, consequently, flashed substantive complaints to higher authorities. Still, the inquiries and their findings have been hushed up more than three times at District level as well as Directorate level after the potential sufferers coughed up more money.

Dozens of officials from Department of Accounts and Treasuries have been key actors in the network, alongside the officers of Health Services, in making these “appointments” and drawing salaries of the “appointees” regularly from different treasuries. Even as all of them are still untouched but unlikely to escape Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s wrath, Government has on Monday ordered attachment of seven senior and middle-rung officials of the Health Department.

Those attached last evening include Dr Nazir Ahmad Hakeem Dy Director, Kashmir (Schemes), Dr A R Matoo, in-charge Dy CMO Anantnag), Dr Altaf Beigh, CMO Kulgam, Dr G M Shaksaaz, Medical Superintendent, JLNM Hospital, Srinagar, Dr Bashir Ahmed Najar, BMO Larnoo and Dr. Gowhar Abbas, BMO Mattan. Another BMO, Dr Iqbal Bichoo, had been already attached to the office of CMO, Anantnag, on the charge of having fraudulently appointed his own wife. Sources said that over a dozen more junior officials, including head assistants, senior and junior assistants of Department of Health Services Kashmir had also been identified as key actors in the appointment scandal by the inquiry committee and all of them were likely to be attached or suspended within next 48 hours.

The appointment and regularization scandal, running through 2008 to 2011 period, according to sources, was no secret in Department of Health Services. Finally, it was earlier this year that Minister of Health, Sham Lal Sharma, and Director Health Services Kashmir (DHK), Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, decided to identify all the actors involved in the scam, besides the illegitimate beneficiaries, by way of a thorough investigation. An inquiry, headed by Deputy Director (Dentistry) at Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Abdul Rashid Shah, has identified nearly 200 of the appointed beneficiaries and more than 24 of the Health Department’s officials involved in the scandal. However, actual number of the fraudulently appointed or regularized men and women was believed to be nearly 1,000 in Kashmir division alone. Most of them have been engaged from the year 2008 to 2011.

Sources said that Anantnag district in South Kashmir was leading in the appointment scandal but a large number of beneficiaries had also been identified in Pulwama, Budgam, Shopian, Kulgam and Baramulla district in Valley besides six more districts in Jammu division. Sources said that Minister of Health, Sham Lal Sharma, today called Director Health Services Jammu, Dr Madhu Khullar, to his office in Srinagar and directed her to also conduct similar inquiry in six districts of Jammu division. Significantly, six of the seven attached officers are said to be residents of twin districts of Anantnag and Kulgam.

Copies of the fraudulently made ‘appointment orders’, exclusively in possession of Early Times, indicate that the incumbents have been appointed even against gazetted vacancies of Dental Surgeons. For example, Dr Samina Akhtar D/o Ghulam Rasool Shapoo of Duru, Anantnag, has been appointed as Dental Surgeon by then CMO Anantnag and now Deputy Director (Schemes), Dr Nazir Ahmad Hakeem, at PHC Shangus, without any authority and competence.

Letter No: Estt-3/Gaz/DHSK/1-33 Dated 18-11-2008, addressed by Deputy Director Health Services (Headquarters) Kashmir, to CMO Anantnag claims that Dr Samina Akhtar had been “duly recommended” by then MoS Health and Medical Education (Pir Mohammad Hussain) for her contractual appointment as Dental Surgeon. Deputy Director has purportedly written to CMO Anantnag Dr Nazir Hakeem that Dr Samina be accordingly appointed and engaged as Dental Surgeon on contractual basis. Under rules, none other than Deputy Commissioner of a district was authorized to make such contractual engagement subject to availability of substantive vacancy and competition, giving chance of appearing in the interview to all the aspirant candidates.

Copy of the letter has been sent to BMO Shangus for “information and favour of further necessary action”. A copy of same has also been sent purportedly to private secretary of then MOS Health. Subsequently, then CMO Anantnag, Dr Nazir Hakeem, has directed BMO Shangus vide No: Est/Gaz/CMO/Ang/4880-81 dated 27-11-2008, to appoint Dr Samina “with the remarks that services of the Dental Surgeon may be utilized at PHC Shangus as desired by the DHS Srinagar”. Dr Samina has joined in November 2008 and she has been continuously paid her monthly salary without any objection by Accounts Officers and Treasury Officers. Interestingly, PDP-Congress coalition of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had ended in first week of July 2008 and there was no MOS Health in the subsequent Governor’s rule in November 2008.

During the course of investigation, former MoS Health and PDP’s MLA Shangus, Pir Mohammad Hussain, is understood to have categorically denied having issued any such written or verbal orders to DHS Kashmir or CMO Anantnag. He had, in fact, ceased to be MLA and Minister in the first week of July 2008. It has been further found by the inquiry that the letter from Deputy Director Headquarters was totally fake and it carried only the forged/scanned signatures of then Deputy Director (Headquarters), Dr Auvtar Krishen Pir.

[To be continued…..]


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