SRINAGAR: Four health officers, who are facing an inquiry into a recruitment scam, have been posted as block medical officers (BMOs) in various medical blocks of south Kashmir.
Dr Gowhar Abbas, Dr AR Matoo, Dr Abid Bashir and Dr Iqbal Bachoo, who were serving as BMOs, and then chief medical officer (now retired) Dr Nazir Ahmad Hakim, were charged with recruiting scores of employees illegally in 2011 after taking bribes.
The previous government had constituted an inquiry team headed by then director health services Dr Saleem-ul-Rehman to investigate into the charges. The five officers were removed from their postings and ‘attached’ with the health directorate.
A separate inquiry carried out by the finance department into the scam had revealed that the accused officers had withdrawn a huge amount of money as arrears in favour of the fraudulently appointed employees.
The government later announced a high-level fresh investigation into the scam and had appointed then under secretary health and medical education as inquiry officer.
While the investigation is yet to be completed, director health services Sameer Matoo last week issued orders posting Dr Gowhar as BMO Achabal, Dr Iqbal as BMO Shangas, Dr Matoo and Dr Abid as BMOs of Quimoo and Keeri respectively.
It was learnt that the officers were posted to these places because they enjoy the patronage of a top PDP leader from south Kashmir.
“The officers were attached with the office of the directorate for more than two years. All of a sudden they manage postings. How? Under a proper monetary deal with a political leader they managed to get themselves posted to places of their choice,” an official in the health department said, requesting anonymity.
The tainted officers, according to the official, had even been recommended for dismissal, but political intervention saved them.
The rehabilitation of the tainted officers comes months after the PDP-BJP coalition terminated services of about a hundred corrupt officials, while pledging to provide corruption-free administration.
While the tainted officers have got postings, salaries of about 131 employees appointed by them have been stopped since 2012. Recently, these employees locked the office of Anantnag chief medical officer for two weeks, demanding pending salaries.
Some of these aggrieved employees told Kashmir Reader that many illegally recruited employees paid evens more bribes to get salaries regularly.
Director health services Sameer Matoo said the four officers had “been sitting idle in the office of the directorate for several years” and the government decided to utilize their services.
Asked why they were given administrative powers if they have been found involved in misusing their official positions earlier, the director said, “Since we have a dearth of experienced administrative officers, the government decided to appoint them as BMOs to overcome the shortage.”
Matoo said that the postings does not exonerate these officers and they will be dealt with according to the inquiry report once the investigation is completed.