Srinagar: A dangerous betrayal is what newly elected corporators of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) have got from the government, which promised them secure accommodation during the elections, then reneged when the elections were over.
In elections widely boycotted by people, 74 candidates were declared elected in their respective municipal constituencies in October last year. The government had at the time provided them secure, and secret, accommodation in Srinagar, with the promise that these facilities would continue even after the elections.
Now, the elected corporators say, only a third of them are still enjoying accommodation in official MLA quarters in Srinagar. “We are facing life threats. We, along with our children, are living in rented houses. We haven’t even visited our constituencies yet. The government is not taking our concerns seriously. Instead of providing us safe accommodation, the government has left us in the lurch. If they couldn’t provide safe accommodation to us, why were we encouraged to fight those elections?” asked a group of female corporators.
They said they have had to manage accommodation on their own. “Having no option, we ourselves arranged accommodation for which we had to pay Rs 7,000 as rent,” they said.
“We approached many times the deputy commissioner and the mayor, but till date nothing has been done,” they further said.
More than a dozen corporators, including females, are staying either in their relatives’ home or in hotels or in rented houses, they said.
Muhammad Lateef Mir, another corporator, told Kashmir Reader, “Neither are they giving us good salary, nor are they providing us safe accommodation. We cannot risk our life. We cannot work under threat.”
Mir said that despite threats from militants, he and others contested the elections just to be able to work for people. “However, the way the government is treating us, we don’t feel we would be to deliver anything on the ground. If we are not ourselves secure, how can we secure our people? When many big parties boycotted the election, we participated independently. But we cannot sell short our life; they must provide us accommodation as soon as possible,” he said.
SMC Commissioner Peerzadah Hfeezullah said that he cannot do anything about this issue.
Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Matoo told Kashmir Reader, “We have already requested the government to provide permanent accommodation and security to the corporators. We are repeating this request and hopefully they will act on it soon.”
He added that 50% of the corporators have been provided accommodation in MLA quarters, while the rest are staying in hotels.