This is ‘public shaming’, say beneficiaries
Anantnag: The Social Welfare department has resorted to the defacement of walls, in some places the walls of graveyards as well, to publicise the names of beneficiaries under various schemes of the department.
The beneficiaries, though, are calling the move “public shaming” while local people, in general, are furious at the defacement of walls, including walls of graveyards and of public parks.
This is a recent phenomenon and the orders seem to have come from the administrative department, as one of our sources in the Social Welfare department said.
“Yes, we understand how the social fabric is woven in Kashmir, but then we have received the orders from the higher-ups and we have to implement the orders in letter and spirit,” the source in the social welfare department told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the painters given the job might have acted on a whim at some places but the orders were to paint walls of government buildings. “Graveyards should have been left alone,” he said.
Kashmir Reader talked to some beneficiaries, whose names have appeared on the list, and they say they are crestfallen. “No one knew how I was keeping my family together. The amount I got from the social welfare department is not much but helps me keep things afloat. But now every single person in our locality knows that I am in penury,” a beneficiary from Bijbehara town told Kashmir Reader.
Her name has appeared in a list painted on a graveyard wall, which has also left the residents fuming. “This is not something the government has constructed. This is a graveyard wall we pay for out of our pockets. Besides, they should know how to respect the dead even if it was government property,” the residents of the town told Kashmir Reader.
Only in December last year, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag, Dr Piyush Singla, invoked Section-144 and ordered that the walls and other public property should be cleared of any advertisements, which amounted to defacement.
The social welfare department, however, has not kept the concerns of either the district administration or the beneficiaries of schemes in consideration and has gone ahead with the defacement of property and “public shaming” of the beneficiaries.
Kashmir Reader talked to Director Social Welfare, Bashir Ahmad Dar, who said that this was being done to bring transparency to the working of the department. “There have been complaints that some of the beneficiaries of our schemes are blue-eyed, non-deserving people. That is a perception we wanted to change,” Dar said.
Asked about the defacement of public property, Dar said that only government property, including parks and buildings, is to be used. “And I don’t think this is shaming anyone. The only intention was to bring transparency,” he said.
He said that the order to do so has come from the administrative department and the Social Welfare Department was implementing the same.