SMC Mayor’s tweet opens a Pandora’s Box

SMC Mayor’s tweet opens a Pandora’s Box

Audio clips put a question mark over Corporators’ integrity

Abrar Mattoo

SRINAGAR, Sep 28: The disclosure of purported audio calls of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) corporators coupled with confidential documents have  put a big question mark on the integrity of Srinagar’s Deputy Mayor and many of his associates.

A document in possession of Kashmir Despatch reveals that ‘a bribe amount of Rs. 9,00,000 (Nine Lakhs) was paid by some Abid Ahmad Dar, a resident of Khulhama Srinagar, into the personal bank account of the incumbent Deputy Mayor Srinagar to facilitate the regularisation of the illegal construction of a reputed School in the city.”

Soon after these audio clips surfaced and became viral, the conduct of Srinagar’s Deputy Mayor and many of his associates came under the scanner of the general public.

Reliable sources revealed to Kashmir Despatch that the Deputy Mayor Srinagar has a disproportionate number of assets amassed since last one year without stating the legal sources of income to the government.

In one of the audio calls accessed by Kashmir Despatch, an SMC corporator named Majid Tantray is speaking with a person on the phone and allegedly carrying out a deal of Rs. 1,50,000 to facilitate an illegal construction in Srinagar.

The SMC corporator assures the man that he has personally handed over his case to Concerned Building Inspector and Srinagar’s Deputy Mayor.

The corporator informs him that no action will be taken against the illegal construction and that if anyone questions him, he should “tell them I have already spoken with the Deputy Mayor Parvaiz Qadri and call him to confirm.”

In this audio, the corporator and the man are planning to meet in the presence of the local ward officer from the Municipal Corporation Srinagar and seal the deal. According to sources, the location of this illegal construction is Rangpora, Srinagar.

In yet another recorded audio, Parvaiz Qadri seems to be confessing that he has taken a cash payment of Rs. 5 lakhs to allegedly allot a piece of land at Nowpora, Srinagar, which was found to be a property of the Department of R&B Srinagar afterwards and not Municipal Corporation Srinagar.

According to reliable sources, the incidents of corruption perpetrated by the Deputy Mayor and many of the corporators in SMC have already been brought to the notice of the higher authorities at the Corporation, but efforts are being allegedly made to shield the involved officials.

Veracity and the looming tension over such recordings were confirmed on September 22, 2022 when Junaid Azim Mattoo, Mayor of Srinagar, took to this micro blogging site Twitter handle and write that multiple incidents have been brought to his notice, ‘where citizens were being asked to deposit money by an elected representative in SMC into his private account to allegedly facilitate building permissions.’

The Mayor further wrote that some deposits were as high as Rs. 2 lakh and that the case has been handed over to the police.

The fact remains that even after such startling revelations all of the people accused in this nexus continue to serve in their respective positions and enjoy all protections and privileges that come with them. At face value, no substantial action seems to have been taken against the corrupt officials.

One of the employees at Srinagar Municipal Corporation said on condition of anonymity that “the rot of corruption in SMC is rather serious and almost everyone, from the highest to the lowest post, is involved in this menace. “The Touts, who are often elected representatives of SMC, employees, and even some journalists, function as brokers between the officials and the people to facilitate corruption and bribes in lieu of illicit constructions.”

This correspondent was denied an audience and access in the office of Mayor Srinagar, Junaid Azim Mattoo and similarly, the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation Srinagar, Athar Amir Khan, was also not available for his comments.

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