Elderly man, too poor to pay power bill, wants line cut; PDD men ‘refuse unless bribed’

Elderly man, too poor to pay power bill, wants line cut; PDD men ‘refuse unless bribed’
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BARAMULLA: Officials of the Power Development Department (PDD) are allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a poor, aged man, to disconnect his power connection in Brandub village of Rafiabad in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Mohammad Sulaiman Khan, 65, son of Sikander Khan of Kamar Brandub village of Rafiabad, Baramulla, said on Monday that he had paid all his pending electricity dues in the month of April. “Then I approached Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE), Watergam, where I requested the officer on chair to disconnect my power supply because I have no more money to pay in future.”
Khan said, “The officer marked and forwarded my application to the Junior Engineer (JE) of the area to check my locality etc. Later, the JE assured me that they will disconnect my power supply line and he wrote to the inspector of the area for further ground reports. The inspector, Mohammad Maqbool Wani, visited the area and assured me that the department will disconnect my electricity line within days. However a month has passed, and the inspector has still not visited my home to disconnect my power supply.”
Continuing, Khan said, “A few days back, the inspector met me outside the village where I requested him to disconnect my electricity line and give my any document so that department will not claim further electricity fee from me in future. The irony is that when inspector Mohammad Maqbool Wani demanded Rs 2,000 from me as bribe for JE and AEE for disconnection of power supply, I pleaded before him that I am so poor that I cannot pay electricity fee, where can I arrange Rs 2,000 more, but he left the station and warned me that if I cannot arrange the money, his officials cannot allow me disconnect my power line.”
Khan said that he had been unable to pay the electricity charges for a long time. “I can’t pay electricity fee, and it had accumulated to Rs 27,000. I sold my cow in the month of April and later paid all the pending bills. From that date, I am requesting officials to disconnect my service line because I cannot arrange the fees in future,” Khan said with tearful eyes.
On Monday, the elderly Khan reached the office of the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla for the solution of his problem. In his written application to DC and ADC Baramulla, Khan appealed to the officers to look into the matter and put pressure on the officials to disconnect his power supply.
When contacted, the Watergam AEE, PDD, Farooq Ahmad, wondered, “I request you to send this person into my office and I will see who demanded Rs 2,000 as bribe from this poor man,” he said. “I will take strict action against the officer if found guilty.”