Opposition leaders in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday demanded an investigation after a Dalit government officer alleged that he was being harassed by the Union Territory administration for flagging irregularities in a drinking water scheme.
Ashok Parmar, an Indian Administrative Services officer of the principal secretary rank, has been transferred on five occasions in the last one year. He has filed a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, NDTV reported.
In his complaint, Parmar said that he had been posted as principal secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Jal Shakti Department in May 2022. During his tenure, he had pointed out that the implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission drinking water scheme was slow because of “erroneous and faulty procedure”, The Tribune reported.
The allotment of works was being done by misinterpreting a clause that allowed a contractor to be awarded only two works at a time, Parmar claimed in his complaint.
“[Lieutenant Governor] Manoj Sinha threw me out of the meeting room on June 6, 2022, to harass and humiliate me without my fault,” he alleged.
He also claimed that within months of him flagging the alleged irregularities, he was transferred to the Department of Administrative Reforms, Inspection and Trainings. Soon after, he was shunted out to the Skill Development Department and in less than two weeks to the Bureau of Public Enterprises in Jammu and Kashmir, Parmar said in his complaint, according to NDTV.
He has also cast apprehensions that Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant General Sinha and Chief Secretary Arun Mehta “might go to any extent to damage his reputation and career by implicating him in false cases as he had pointed out many financial irregularities and acts of omission and commission of Mehta...[Advisor to Lieutenant Governor] RR Bhatnagar and others...”, reported The Statesman.
On Tuesday, National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah wrote in a tweet that the allegations were serious enough to deserve an impartial investigation. “Sadly the news media has completely ignored this story,” he wrote. “They are being kept too busy chasing Ms World & other fluff stories.”
Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that Parmar had taken “grave risks” to expose the alleged irregularities. “Instead of punishing culprits responsible for bungling of thousands of 3000 crores in the Jal Jeevan scheme, an upright officer is made to suffer,” she wrote.
Vice President of Aam Aadmi Party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit Safeer Choudhary also echoed the sentiments of the Opposition parties, saying that the officer took serious risks to confirm “the rot in the system at the very top”.
“Instead of punishing culprits responsible for bungling of 3,000 crores in the Jal Jeevan scheme, an upright officer is made to suffer,” he tweeted.