Srinagar- Dozens of fans fitted with a public address system and seeking donations for the orphanages and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have started rolling on the roads of Srinagar and elsewhere as the fervour of the holy month of Ramazan grips Kashmir Valley.
According to officials, the number of registered NGOs, including orphanages across the Valley is around 350. However, in the month of Ramazan, they said, NGOs pop up out of nowhere and start donation drives in all major towns and districts of the Valley.
An official from the social welfare department said that there are around 120 NGOs registered with the department. However, many of these, he said, are running illegally, or at least bypassing the rules and regulations laid down by the government.
“Kashmir has witnessed an unprecedented mushroom growth of NGOs and orphanages over a few years. There are no checks on their activities, or the funds they collected,” Mohammad Muneer, a businessman said.
Muneer, who runs a shop in the bust Lal Chowk, says that he witnesses around a dozen donation vans roaming around the city centre every day.
Sources told said that these NGOs run a huge network and have ample infrastructure and trained people to run donation drives across the nook and corner of the Valley. Besides salary, they said, many of the volunteers receive incentives on their performance in collecting donations from the people.
Pertinently, two years ago, police in Pulwama district arrested two persons and sealed an NGO over illegal adoption of Covid orphans.
The government then swung into action and asked the NGOs not to operate with the registration. A fact finding committee was also constituted in order to ascertain the number of orphans/Covid orphans and their well being in all the districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Harvinder Kour, Mission Director, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) told Kashmir Observer that the department runs its own child care centers which are being funded by the Central Government.
“They might be private parties. The people need to verify their credibility before giving any donation,” Kour said.
She said the government doesn’t provide grants to every orphanage so their caretakers might be seeking the donation in the holy month.
“Out of around 150 orphanages registered in Kashmir, 60 are run by the government itself. We provide funds to a few NGOs but others might be seeking donations from people,” she added.
Director Social Welfare Kashmir, Mohammad Shafiq Chak, told Kashmir Observer that it is the job of civil society to check whether the people seeking the donations are genuine or not.
“This has become a menace. The people need to be vigilant, the government can’t be everywhere,” he said.
He further said people hear emotional appeals and give charity without knowing the background of the donation seekers.
“As a result, the deserved ones don’t get the due attention,” he added.
Mushtaq Ahmad, who collects funds for his orphanage in Sopore, maintains that official approval is sought in the donation drive and many a times Deputy Commissioner of the particular district assists the NGOs with funds.
“It is not possible to operate and seek donations on our own. Yes, there might be some people who take advantage of this auspicious month and resort to unfair fund raising,” Ahmad said.
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