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Friday, July 1, 2011

RTI fails to get info on Jammu-Samba land grabbing Police officers

DGP on Feb 24th: I have asked Div Comm Jammu to conduct probe
Div Comm Jammu on April 18th: DGP has never asked for such probe

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 1: Whether J&K Police Headquarters have deliberately suppressed information on the Police officers involved in land grabbing in Jammu and Samba districts or it is a matter of routine red-tapism in the organisation is not clear at this stage but there is conclusive evidence to suggest that Jammu Police have conveniently slept over many FIRs filed against Police officials. Police Headquarters have ignored to provide the information under RTI in the last four months even after the applicant was made to submit a bank draft in the month of May this year.

In the months of January and February, land grabbing by a mafia of influential police officials, bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen in Jammu and Samba districts dominated front pages of most of the newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir. When a newspaper published names of a number of senior Police officials, including SSPs and DIGs, who had allegedly grabbed huge chunks of the state land, Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, told media that involvement of Police officials in such criminal matters would not be condoned.

In its February 25th issue, The Tribune reported:
With the names of certain senior state police officers figuring in the land grab case, the Director-General of Police (DGP), Kuldeep Khoda, has asked the Divisional Commissioner (Jammu), Pawan Kotwal, to initiate an inquiry.
“After reading reports in this regard, I wrote to the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, to find out the truth,” said the DGP. He added: “If the involvement of any police officer is established in the inquiry report, I will suspend the officer concerned.”
He admitted corruption in the department. “Though we can’t stop corruption, we can keep a check on it. I am ready to take strict action against all those who are found involved in corruption,” Khoda maintained. The case came to light after reports that senior officers, including some belonging to the KPS and the IPS, had allegedly grabbed government land near the National Highway in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
It was also alleged that there was a police officer-land grabber nexus in Jammu. (end)

However, when two months later a citizen desired to know the status of the investigation DGP claimed to have initiated, he learned from Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Pawan Kotwal, that no such probe had ever been sought by the Police headquarters. On the direction of Divisional Commissioner, Public Information Officer (PIO) and Additional Commissioner of Jammu wrote to the RTI applicant vide No: 601/RA/RTI/33 Dated 18-04-2011: “I am directed to intimate you that no such communication has been received by this office from Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu”.

The applicant’s question to Divisional Commissioner Jammu, on March 7th, 2011, was unambiguous: ‘Whether it is a fact that DGP J&K has requested your goodself to enquire into the allegations of land grabbing attributed to certain Police officers which came to be highlighted by Daily Excelsior in the month of February 2011?”

Same citizen submitted another application under the state’s RTI Act to IGP Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, on April 2nd, 2011, seeking details of all the all “land grabbing encroachment of State/Forest/private land cases registered in various Police Stations of Jammu and Samba districts during last five years”.

Zonal Police headquarters in Jammu lost little time in collecting necessary information from SSP Jammu, Basant Rath, and SSP Samba, Israr Khan. SSP Jammu submitted the information to IGP Jammu vide No: Legal/J/RTI/11/118 Dated 6-5-2011. SSP Samba submitted it to IGP vide No: CB/2011/3736-37/DPOS Dated 4-5-2011. Since the DGP, contrary to the spirit of the RTI Act in vogue, has directed all of his subordinate officials not to provide any information under RTI without his “knowledge and consent”, IGP Jammu forwarded the information to Police headquarters vide No: ZPHQ/RTI-Cell/2011/11365-66 Dated 6-5-2011.

Under RTI Act, PIO at Zonal Police Headquarters in Jammu was bound to provide the information to the applicant before 2-5-2011.

After further delay of eight days, Director of Prosecution at Police Headquarters in Srinagar wrote to the applicant that the information sought by him was spread over 167 pages. He was directed to deposit the stipulated fee of Rs 1670 at the rate of Rs 10 per page. The applicant, accordingly, made a bank draft of Rs 1670 [ No: 878933 dated 30-5-2011] at High Court branch of J&K Bank Ltd in Jammu and submitted it to Police Headquarters on 1-6-2011.

Failing to get the information from 2-4-2011 to 1-7-2011, the citizen today mailed a petition to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, with copies to MoS Home Nasir Aslam Wani and Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, asking why a law was claimed to be in force in Jammu and Kashmir which was being treated with contempt by the executive. As a ‘Food For Thought’ for Chief Information Commissioner, Ghulam Rasool Sofi, the citizen has detailed how J&K Police have suppressed the information for 90 days that was supposed to be delivered on him within 30 days.