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Saturday, July 14, 2012

How all inquiries failed in Health appointment scam --- (4)

Brazen nepotism, corruption ruled the roost in Anantnag, Kulgam

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 13: With most of the fraudulent appointments in the Department of Health happening in the South Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Kulgam, middle-rung officials enjoyed a field day in illegally absorbing scores of their relatives in addition to hundreds others against cash payment. Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), Block Medical Officers (BMOs), Accounts Officers (AOs) and Treasury Officers, alongwith their clerks, broke all records of fraudulent appointments from 1996 to 2011. While most of the complaints fell on the deaf ears of the authorities, others were paradoxically used to blackmail the beneficiaries and extort more money from them.

Modus operandi
 Successive CMOs have been found to have issued most of the fraudulent orders under a particular pattern. In certain cases, they have simply issued transfer orders, shifting subordinate Class 3rd and Class 4th officials from one block to another. However, like in a previous appointment scandal in Department of Education, that surfaced in 1993-95 period in Anantnag district, the transferred officials had actually never been appointed into Government service. Fixed amounts of money have been collected from the clients and the fake “transfer orders” issued.

In compliance to these “orders”, the unemployed clients appeared before particular BMOs as the “transferred officials” and submitted their joining reports. Fraudulently created service books and last Pay Certificates (LPCs) followed and the “appointees” continued to project themselves as “old employees” while continuously drawing their salaries. This became possible only where the AOs, AAOs and Treasury Officers were duly roped in. Close relatives of the CMOs, BMOs, and their godfathers in politics and bureaucracy, were exempted from paying bribes but money was collected without relaxation from other clients, including distant relatives, neighbours and acquaintances.

However, in over 80% of the cases, clients were falsely shown by the CMOs as ‘Consolidate Paid Safaiwallas’ (CSWs) and “regularized” into the regular Class 4th pay scale of Rs 4440- Rs 7440 (pre-revised Rs 2550- Rs 3200). Fake dispatch numbers of the letters from Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHK) were recorded against Subject and Reference on these “orders”. These “orders” were issued and got implemented despite the fact that neither the CMOs nor successive Directors had, by law, any authority or competence to regularize even the factually engaged CSWs. Most of these “orders” from office of CMO do not carry any Order Number. Copies of these “orders” are invariably purported to have been dispatched to DHK but records at the Directorate indicate that no such documents or correspondences exist.

“In pursuance to reference quoted above in the subject, Shri Mohammad Amin Moochi S/o Jala ud-Din Moochi R/o Khannabal consolidated paid Safaiwallah of Block Mattan in hereby placed in the grade of 4440-7440 with the grade pay attached to the scale revised (2550-3200) against the available vacancy at Block Mattan. The Block Medical Officer will allow to join the candidate after proper verification of required certificates”, says the text of an “Order” issued by then CMO Anantnag, and now Deputy Director (Schemes) at DHK, Dr Nazir Ahmad Hakeem. It has been issued under endorsement No: EST/SW/4337-38 Dated 22-03-2010. Insiders insist that it could not have been possible in absence of coordination with then Director Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mohammad Amin Wani, concerned Accounts Officer and Treasury Officer.

Early Times is exclusively in possession of dozens of identically drafted, issued and implemented “Orders”, mostly issued by CMOs of Anantnag and Kulgam. Almost all blocks of the two districts, particularly Pahalgam, Mattan, Shangus, Larnoo, Sallar, Anantnag, Qazigund and Kulgam, have witnessed this free-for-all loot of the state exchequer. Competence and integrity of Finance Ministers like Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Abdul Rahim Rather, has failed to be a deterrent. Notwithstanding a deluge of complaints and so-called inquiries, not a single of the fraudulently appointed/absorbed officials has been denied salary or dismissed.

All the delinquent officials of the departments of Health and Finance, who have played key role in the Health appointment mafia, have not only retained prize postings but have also been promoted to higher positions. Although, different departments and organisations are on record to have initiated inquiries over dozens of complaints received by senior authorities, no disciplinary or criminal action has been taken against the delinquent officers or the people they have appointed through fraudulent means.

Hush up
In one particular case, a former Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag is on record to have ordered an inquiry through District Employment Officer of Anantnag. Substantial evidences of criminal conduct by then CMO were collected with regard to fraudulent regularization of seven of such appointees in Mattan Block. It was established during the inquiry that one Sr Assistant, namely Ghulam Qadir, had got a number of his clients appointed through CMO Anantnag. Gh Qadir was found to have got fraudulently appointed his own brother-in-law and some other relatives in Larnoo and Mattan blocks and also his own son in Larnoo block. The investigation was completely hushed up after the accused officials greased the palms of the officers conducting the inquiry. In connivance with AO and Treasury Officer, all of the fraudulent appointees are continuously working and drawing their salaries from the state exchequer.

Head Assistant at office of CMO Anantnag, Pir Mohammad Shafi, is known to have got fraudulently appointed his younger brother, Pir Mohammad Ashraf, as Junior Assistant on ‘adhoc basis’ in 1996 and later got him fraudulently regularized by CMO Anantnag. Same official was later promoted to the rank of Sr Assistant. In 2006, he also got similarly appointed another client, namely Rayees Ahmad, as Class 4th official. On a complaint, then Director Health Kashmir, Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, canceled the appointment but due to Shafi’s clout, Rayees is continuously working and taking his salary in block Achhabal.

Shafi also got another of his clients, namely Irshad Ahmad Dar, fraudulently appointed as a class 4th official in block Qazigund. By way of CMO’s another fraudulent order, Shafi also got his own relative, Abdul Majid Shah, appointed in Anantnag. By another CMO, he also got a Driver fraudulently regularized in block Sallar. According to the established charges, he also got a number of his clients (CSWs) “regularized” as Class 4th officials in Mattan, Achhabal and Sallar blocks in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. The siblings have been notoriously controlling Mattan, Acchabal, Sallar and Larnoo blocks.

According to the allegations, the duo has also got appointed Lateef Ahmad Narwari of Srinagar and Shabir Ahmad (brother of Sr Assistant Ghulam Rasool) in block Shangus, Jr Assistant of Shangus Block, Nasir Ahmad, alongwith his wife, Ishrat, then CMO Dr Nazir Hakeem’s relative, Samir Ahmad Nawab, besides one Imran against Class 4th vacancies by the CMO who had no authority or competence by law. An Accounts Officer conducted another inquiry and most of the charges were proved during the process. However, he too hushed up the inquiry fully after the Health officers appointed two of his brothers against Class 4th vacancies in Shopian district. A huge amount of money was additionally paid to the AO as bribe money. Records indicate that Vigilance Organisation too initiated preliminary verifications in at least three matters in South Kashmir but the investigation did not progress to its logical conclusion---allegedly due to payment of bribe money.

Political will?
Now that the number of the accused officers is running into dozens and those of the illegal appointees into hundreds, in at least 12 districts of J&K, unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats have begun to scuttle the whole process with their hackneyed argument---‘it could lead to unrest among hundreds of families ahead of the 2014 elections’! Would Minister of Health, Sham Lal Sharma, still proceed against the guilty and terminate the services of all the 1000-odd illegal appointees in absence of the coalition government’s political will? It is a big question mark.



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