The Modi government pays political workers of the opposition parties in Kashmir Rs 78 crore per year, in continuation with the policy of its predecessors at the Centre.
In the last 30 years, the Central government has spent Rs 2,340 crore on three mainstream parties in Kashmir under security related expenditure.
These startling revelations have been made based on official documents obtained by an organisation, Reconciliation Return and Rehabilitation Migrants (RRRM), headed by Satish Mahaldar, under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
According to the 26-page document, 5,000 ‘political workers’ are registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Office (RRCO) based in Jammu.
The RRCO is the same government body with which displaced Kashmiris are registered and are paid relief by. The majority of the displaced members from Kashmir are Pandits, the religio-ethnic minority which was targeted and driven out from the Valley in 1990 by Islamist terrorists.
Mahaldar said in a statement that the documents show that the RRCO Jammu has been paying the workers of two regional parties, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the national party, Congress. Each political worker gets Rs 13,000 per month, the documents revealed.
Mahaldar said that “the scam” was first revealed in 2013 and was brought to the notice of the concerned officials at the time.
“In February 2020, we checked again and found that the names still exist and are being paid as usual,” he said.
The political workers/leaders of the NC, PDP and the Congress are paid even as they have been living in their homes in Kashmir while claiming to be persecuted like the forcibly displaced Kashmiri Pandits, Mahaldar said.
Calling it ironical, Mahaldar said, “We lost our houses and land because of terrorism and persecution and now the relief meant for us is also being appropriated.”
Accusing all the political parties of conniving with each other, the RRRM chairman said, “What was rightfully for the persecuted community of Kashmiri Pandits is being arrogated to the political workers in Kashmir.”
“In budgets and on papers, the government shows that it is spending this whole amount on the relief and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. But the reality is that the community has been cheated for the past 30 years, including the last six years of BJP rule. In the name of migrants, many are looting the government in Kashmir,” he added.
Lashing out at the government, Mahaldar said, “While the earlier regimes can be slammed for exploiting the plight of Kashmiri Pandits to benefit their own workers, what is the excuse of the BJP government which has been in power for the past six years? How could they let this continue under their nose?”
The BJP, on one hand, says that NC, PDP and Congress are responsible for the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, but on the other hand, they are officially giving money to the opposition political parties, whom they have often accused of running anti-national agenda, he said.
“Most of the time, the PDP and the NC have been demonising the police and the army. They have been making statements favouring the separatist agenda,” Mahaldar said.
“Why then is the hard-earned taxpayers’ money being spent for the comfort of these people? I don’t think there is precedence like this anywhere. Is this money going to stone pelters and to their supporters,” Mahaldar asked, demanding an immediate CBI probe into the ‘scam’.