Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Jammu Daughter writes an Open Letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

You are coming to the land of my ancestors in our beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir bringing the dream of our people to life. AIIMS, no matter how important, would have become a political game battle if not for you. But do you know that the state administration that you have trusted with this task have been defiling your name and claim in an attempt to please no one but you?

You might find it hard to believe because people in India love you and see you as a guiding force. When you broke the VIP culture with the EPI term, Every Person is IMPORTANT, you won the hearts of common man but apparently, the bureaucracy is still set on ensuring that your genuine efforts don’t reach the man on the ground.

I am a middle-class working woman from Jammu and Kashmir who has faced harrowing and torturous time at the hands of the officials who have been entrusted to serve the public on grassroot level.

AIIMS in Jammu is going to address a key shortcoming here, which is of providing quality healthcare to the people of Jammu. But how can one construct an institution meant for the benefit of people over the cost of injustice to someone?

The sole reason for me writing this letter is that while you have the best interest of people in Jammu and Kashmir in mind, your philosophy and ideology doesn’t filter down to the people who implement the policies that you give your word for.

My aunt who is a senior citizen has faced such mental strain in the past three years because of the state administration that you coming to Jammu, on her land seemed to her like a god sent. We approached every person from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Assistant Commissioner Revenue, Deputy Commissioner, Divisional Commissioner to Advisor to the Governor and even the Chief Secretary himself.

We shouted at the top of our voices to convey to these officials that a portion of the land where AIIMS is to be constructed belongs to us and because of a typological error or perhaps a willful manipulation of Khasra Number, the state didn’t give us a chance to file an objection to its compulsory acquisition.

The documents of the land are still with me. The notification of land acquisition with the wrong Khasra number is also with me. All I wanted was for the state administration to accept our rightful claim on the land that has belonged to us for ages.

All we wanted was that when AIIMS comes to Jammu, no one can claim that things didn’t happen the right way. It is a positive step in the right direction, and we are happy to contribute our meagre sum for the greater good. But don’t you believe that before constructing a building that will better the lives of people of Jammu, all bases should be clear, all disputes should be resolved?

Because that is what your man, the Hon’ble Governor told me after accepting my pleas and meeting with me to ensure I have no grievances left when I walk out the door. He said, “Centre has told to build AIIMS and not to do any injustice”. His words reinstated my beliefs that you had no idea about the injustice being done with your nation’s daughter in Jammu and Kashmir.

I spent days and nights trying to collect the documents, facing resentment of the officers, their nonchalance towards my pain, their indifference to my compulsions. I heard the same words being repeated, “Centre has told us to build AIIMS. We are doing everything that we can.”

 Like you say Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. Even after being an educated and working woman in India, I suffered badly at the hands of the bureaucrats who played mind games with me, made me wait for hours, made me compromise on my work and travel back and forth for a single piece of document. And then, despite having everything in place, refused to help solve my dispute. If that is something that I have had to face, I fail to imagine what a common man would have to go through to get any kind of work done in such a situation.

You, sir, like me, have risen from the rubble and understand what it means to be rendered completely helpless in the face of corruption which is eroding our country. And worse than that is the attitude of the officials who talk about pleasing you but forget your words of EPI (Every person is important).

These public servants who have been entrusted with such high responsibilities not only showed zero interest in getting any work done but also treated me with such arrogance, high handedness, sheer rudeness and indifference.

We have been ignored, misdirected, lied to and till date search for the right answers after wasting more than three years on issues which could have been solved with due diligence from the concerned authorities. We gave written complaints asking for the valid documents and for justice to be done. But even the thought of true justice seems like a distant dream after seeing the ground reality for three agonizing years. I think you will also agree that “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”.

We feel fortunate that our land comes under the compulsory land acquisition for such a just and noble cause and we are volunteer our support for AIIMS. But unfortunately, this development is coming at the cost of injustice to us and our hearts will be broken if the construction gets completed and we become forgotten voices in our journey of demanding justice.

We have been fighting a losing battle with the state administration. The whole process for the land acquisition for AIIMS Jammu was done very haphazardly. The guidelines duly set for land acquisition in J&K for public purposes was never followed or adhered to. From the initial Land acquisition to the Final Award, Khasra numbers were changed and no clarity was given. Whenever we questioned them, we were told that the Centre is giving a lot of pressure and they don’t have time to listen to us.

After the completion of the land acquisition, they have proudly declared it as encumbrance free, albeit our query and grievances were not addressed, and it is still going on. The khasra numbers mentioned in the initial land acquisition did not match the land particulars in the final award despite us crying hoarse that this is the case. And finally, after one year, they agreed and said it was only a Typographical error. Sir, human error is always there and is understandable, but when the land acquisition was happening how come SDM and his team failed to see a complete structure built by us on the said site altogether?

Yes, the land that you will be stepping on was not barren and plain like today. It had a small room on it which also belonged to us and which was demolished without even notifying us. We already presented them with an application with photographic & video graphic evidence of the same.

And yet all officials failed to check such a grave error or give us an acceptable explanation?

I am deeply thankful to the Hon’ble Governor for his approachability and for his helping hand. With his along with Advisor K. Vijay Kumar’s intervention, we finally saw some traction in this issue getting resolved, but not before he was empoisoned against us and we were termed as “Land Mafia”, which could probably be to only hide the incompetence of the officials. Can you empathize with me and my 60-year old aunt’s situation when we heard the term Land Mafia being used? We, the ones who have been running from pillar to post for justice for the past three years?

Sir, I ask today for your intervention in this matter. Since you are already in our state why not give this daughter of the land an audience and hear her out? Because we are at our wits end with this matter and we really do not know who else to go to and knock on their doors for an impartial and patient hearing. You, much like Hon’ble Governor are people’s Prime Minister. I hear you on Mann ki Baat and Pariksha pe Charcha interacting with the common people and addressing their issues.

Will you, along with your “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” initiative and your progressive thoughts also provide the women of this country with “Is Padhi Likhi Beti Ko Insaaf Dilao”?

You are a glimmer of hope in this saddening and darkened situation, and so far, the only person I can trust blindly. If you take it upon yourself to address this matter, these designated Administrative Officials who wish to please you will also understand that you are the Prime Minister who puts the common man of this country above all.

I hope my thoughts here reach the right audience and if nothing comes out of it, at least it could make people think about why someone would have to write an Open Letter to address issues for which we already have such designated Administrative Offices.

Your visit has filled me with Josh and strength to show the bureaucrats of Jammu and Kashmir that unlike them, our Prime Minister means business when he puts his mind to something.

Jammu Kashmir ki Beti

Rupali Vaid 



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