Roshni Scam: BJP Vows To Retrieve 17,000 Hectares Of ‘Grabbed’ Land

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Srinagar: Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday expressed confidence that Jammu and Kashmir will get back 17,000 hectares of land that was grabbed through the Roshni Scheme, and action will be taken against those involved in this corruption.

“Roshni Act has been struck down by High Court and (it) termed the act illegal and unconstitutional. It clearly defined why this act had been brought in…just to help a few big names whether in politics, business or bureaucracy, ” Thakur, who is the BJP’s election in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir, told reporters here.

Thakur said he was glad that the court had taken an initiative and there has been a fair inquiry into it.

“I am sure that 3.42 lakh kanal (17,000 hectares) of land will be returned to state of Jammu and Kashmir. There will be action against those who were involved in the corrupt practice, ” he added.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has filed a review petition in the high court seeking to distinguish between landless cultivators and wealthy land grabbers who had benefited from the law which has been struck down. The petition will come up for hearing on December 16.

Commenting on the ongoing District Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Thakur said the people will decide which part wins or loses.

“However, the response to the five phases of elections so far means that people have already ensured the victory of democracy. The important thing is that these polls have been free, fair and fear-free,” he said.

The union minister said there were attempts the scare the people ahead of the elections “but they (voters) were not scared. ”

On abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, Thakur said many people have benefited from it including Scheduled Tribe communities such as Gorkhas and Valmikis and West Pakistan refugees.

“Even women of Jammu and Kashmir have got their rights now,” he added.

Article-370 Allowed Rampant Corruption: Singh

Meanwhile Union minister Jitendra Singh Saturday said the now-scrapped Article 370 had paved the way for rampant corruption in Jammu and Kashmir as successive state governments used it to make their own anti-graft laws, customised allegedly for convenience.

He said the setting up of the District Development Councils (DDC) will bring further accountability, transparency and outcome-oriented approach in the working of the administration in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Article 370 had paved the way for rampant corruption in Jammu and Kashmir because it gave the successive governments in the state the right to enact their own anti-graft laws which were inadequate and tailor-made for convenience,” he told an election rally in support of BJP candidates in the DDC polls.

At the same time, Article 370 also gave the state rulers the prerogative not to allow the Centre’s Prevention of Corruption Act to be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir like the rest of the country, he said.

Singh, the Union Minister for the Prime Minister’s Office, said the Prevention of Corruption Act was implemented in Jammu and Kashmir only after the abrogation of Article 370 and the state having turned into a Union Territory.

The Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019, and subsequently the erstwhile state was divided into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Singh, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, said there was no effective curb on corruption in the past because the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had its own anti-corruption law and probes into corruption cases carried on indefinitely, allowing the officials concerned to get superannuated, or making too late to bring them to book.

“As a result, corruption in Jammu and Kashmir, both in lower as well as in higher offices, became a norm rather than an exception and the common impression was that anybody who was smart enough to get away with it, could also manage to go scot-free,” he said.

With the implementation of the Prevention of Corruption Act in Jammu and Kashmir now, the minister said, now there are timelines fixed to dispose of corruption cases and at the same time, not only the bribe-taker but also the bribe-giver is held guilty.

Singh said that in the last one year, there is a visible change in governance and the good governance practices followed by the Centre are also being gradually implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, one after the other.

“This has also led to a conspicuous change in the work culture in the government setup which was grossly lacking in the past,” he said.

The minister said the setting up of DDCs will bring further accountability, transparency and outcome-oriented approach in the working of the government.

“When the District Councillors and the District Council Chairman work in coordination with the District Deputy Commissioner and his administration, they will not only supplement each other’s efforts and initiatives, but also exercise the necessary checks and balances,” he said.

Singh said DDCs will herald a new era of democratisation with accountability in the administration and, therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to make this initiative successful. (PTI)

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