During the past twenty-five years there has been an alarming increase in the number of VIPs in Kashmir. Anybody who contests a municipal election becomes a VIP and a liability on state exchequer. The government provides him accommodation in a hotel, a couple of PSOs and a vehicle from security wing of the Home Department. They become ever-lasting parasites for our society. These parasites at times act as pimps for the politicians and bureaucrats. They also extort money from the gullible people on the promise of providing a government job. Some of them are involved in serious criminal cases.
Last week in response to a question in the Legislative Assembly, the fact came to fore that there were 1472 protected persons in Jammu and Kashmir and the state government spends a whopping Rs 516.40 crore on their security. It was further said that the security wing as a part of security cover has provided 708 vehicles to 481 political activists. The reply further stated that the security wing provides secured hotel accommodation to the political activists and as on date, 440 political activists including 294 uncategorized political activists have been provided secured hotel accommodation. In reply to a question on expenditure borne on above mentioned account during the past 5 years and also in the current year, the Home Department stated that a huge amount of Rs 958.67 lakhs has been spent as expenditure borne by the Estates Department on accommodation including ministerial bungalows which include Rs. 137.02 lacs (2010-11), 232.72 lacs (2011-2012), 190.97 lacs (2012-2013), 215.64 lacs (2013-2014) & 182.32 lacs (2014-2015). Srinagar district with 207 protected persons tops the list of number of protected persons, followed by Jammu district with 191, Doda 173, Baramulla 98, Kupwara 82, Anantnag 114, with Samba district of Jammu province at the bottom with only 13 protected persons preceded by Leh with 15 and Kargil 16 protected persons.
The government needs to take a decision on the issue. In the last Assembly election of New Delhi, AAP party made VIP culture as one of the main issues. Here the VIP culture is flourishing and given patronage. The protected persons, by and large are parasites on the state exchequer. Our state is cash starved we cannot afford such luxurious. The government in a bid to promote tourism has been urging the Armed Forces to vacate all the hotels they have occupied. The so-called VIPs must also be made to vacate hotel accommodations. The government cannot do democracy a favour by grooming unscrupulous elements.