Budgam, Apr 22: Government of Indias Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, Thursday said that Kashmiri youth were angry and resorting to stone-pelting, as they were sceptical about the state government.
The problem in Kashmir is that the people here feel that New Delhi installs hand-picked governments in the state. The Government of India has committed mistakes on Kashmir (in the past), Wajahat said at a daylong seminar on Right to Information Act in this central Kashmir district.
Kashmiri youth are pelting stones. There is a need to know why they are doing so. They feel this government is not theirs. They have grievances about the functioning of the system, he said and added that if the angry youth could be made to realize that the government was listening to their grievances, may be they may not resort to stone pelting. Wajahat has, earlier, worked at different positions in the state
government as Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, and Deputy Commissioner in early 90s.
A 1968 batch Jammu and Kashmir cadre IAS officer is heading the Central Information Commission since October 2005 and is due to retire later this year. Earlier, he was tipped to be the Chief Information Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir, but couldnt take up the responsibility as he was not relieved by the Centre.
Wajahat said he had felt the impact of the Act at the centre in past five years and that was the reason that he was intending to return to Kashmir.
The dark days have passed in Kashmir and future is waiting. We have to remove the bottlenecks to overcome the dark period for which implementation of the RTI is necessary. It was my dream but dreams often dont turn to be a reality. I am sad, he admitted candidly.
Wajahat was recently in the news for recommending name of the infamous government gunman, Ghulam Muhammad Mir alias Muma Kanna for Padma Shree award, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
The law, Wajahat said had more significance in JK, which has its own constitution, and was even stronger than the legislation implemented at the centre and some other states.
But it required setting up of the State Information Commission fully and setting up the Panchayat system in the state. Though the law has been implemented in the state but it is virtually defunct for want of the SCIC.
The District Development Commissioner, Muhammad Rafi said RTI act was not an enemy but friend of people and the government. The access to information related to government functioning would ultimately lead to peoples participation in the development works and ensure transparency in the system, Rafi said.
The RTI activists have right to seek information but it is not a forum to audit the government functionaries, the DC said.
The RTI movement Convenor, Dr Muzaffar Bhat said their aim was to spread awareness about the law under which the government functionaries were accountable before people.
RTI is the best tool to ensure transparency in the system, and strengthening of the institutions, he said.
Karen Jodha Fischer who is working on development of eco-tourism in the districts Khag area hoped that the government officials would work in tandem with RTI activists to address the grievances of people.
SPAR AT SEMINAR
Budgam, Apr 22: A verbal duel broke out between the RTI activists and the district administration including the Deputy Commissioner here on Thursday at a seminar with former levelling the allegation that the government officials were not cooperating to provide information under the Right to Information Act.
The trouble began when an RTI activist, Ghulam Rasool Dar, who is also a government employee, while addressing the audience including various district officials alleged that they (officials) were not cooperating and should change their mindset as the law was now in vogue.
However the DC who was among the invitees interrupted Dar. Dont cross your limits. Dont dictate terms to us. You are a government employee (Assistant Surgeon, Health Department).
The officials and employees who were sitting among the audience came on the dais and started criticizing Dar. You are levelling allegations without proof. I would not tolerate it, the DC yelled. The commotion continued for almost 10 minutes after which Dar shared the dais with the DC. You are riding on two horses. Better choose one, the DC told Dar.
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