There are two ways of confusing and scuttling any corrective action, howsoever well intended it is. Take, for instance, the action against illegal constructions in the city which have come up in violation of the Srinagar Master Plan. First is to ‘make it look indiscriminate while maintaining a careful selectivity’, so that besides those who merit punitive action, others people also attract some amount of wrath. This will turn them against the initiative and they will bring down enough pressure to stall the process. Second, the scope of the initiative is made so wide and broad that it automatically becomes impossible to govern and regulate it. Once it is expanded beyond a certain point, it ceases to operate in fair and just manner. And once the labels of injustice and unfairness are attracted, those at the political helm have no option but to shelve the process.
In Kashmir, the rich and the powerful, the bold and the beautiful of the golden triangle of politics, bureaucracy and the business, have a visible vested interest and a known stake in whatever wrongs have plagued this society under the garb of “unfavourable political situation”. The fact is that no violation of the Master Plan would have taken place if it were not for the open complicity and patronage of the concerned officials. So, those who could, paid their way through all hitches and hassles and got away with everything. The nexus of the politicians, the bureaucrats and the business enjoyed and still enjoys a virtual free run while the sun of unaccountability shines hot and bright over the state. This gave birth to a culture of loot and scoot, and everybody among the ‘haves’ benefited by it. The residential colonies were turned into commercial places much to the dismay and discomfort of those who wanted their residential areas to remain free from the noise and hustle of commerce as the officials accorded their patronage and protection to the unscrupulous who paid for their favours. All those who were opposed to this transformation (violation of Master Plan) were silenced not only through overt official inertia and corruption, but also through covert coercion.
Today when the changed political winds are pushing the official machinery into acting against the violations, the civic bodies are using every possible tactic to thwart the process. Directly they can’t do it for the fear of being held for it, but covertly they are doing everything to save their partners in the sleazy trade. This is why we see corrective measures suddenly getting shelved whenever there are indications that the officials may finally act against the violations. Indeed even in this ‘blow hot blow cold’ tactics, the civic authorities and others have evolved a way to mind some quick buck. The violators are simply threatened of action then made to pay for buying fresh favours to stop that ‘action’.
There are widespread allegations of selectivity wherein some violators are handpicked for so-called action while certain others are not even frowned at. For instance, while action has been initiated against some violators elsewhere, those in Karan Nagar, Hyderpora, and Jawaharnagar, Gogji Bagh, Munawarabad, Amirakadal, Raj Bagh and scores of other localities are spared. Do we need to count and identify the violations in these areas, and spell out the political lineage and influence of the violators? This selectivity of punitive action against the violations is making the process look, and it certainly is, unfair and unjust. This again is not happening by default; there is a well-thought out design behind it.