Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir received Rs.1.19 crore, an NGO was paid Rs.2.38 crore, the mobile phones of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah were tapped by the Technical Support Division (TDS) that directly reported to Gen. Singh: these are the allegations doing the rounds in political and public circles in the state after the former army chief's interview was telecast on Times Now TV channel.
The import of these revelations have far more serious implications than meets the eye.
Even when Gen. Singh clarified that the funds were paid not as bribes but for helping the "stabilizing process" in Kashmir, no one can justify army payoffs for anything other than carrying out counter-insurgency operations, least of all payments to ministers for "doing the good work" which, in a democratic set-up, is the sole prerogative of an elected government.
Interestingly, Gen. Singh said the funds were given directly by the army and not through the state government because of rampant corruption in Kashmir.
He has miserably failed to justify how the civilian administration and anti-graft organizations surrendered their anti-corruption task to the army.
Gen. Singh's statement has come as music to the ears of the separatist leaders, who have said he had only provided formal confirmation of "India continuing its occupation of Kashmir by using ministers and other institutions as stooges to give a democratic face to its occupation".
Most embarrassed are the mainstream politicians, especially those belonging to the ruling National Conference (NC) and the Congress.
The NC has warned Gen. Singh of legal action unless he reveals which ministers, other than Ghulam Hassan Mir, have been receiving the army's secret funds.
The NC has been shying away from dropping Mir from the cabinet, although Omar Abdullah has the power to seek any minister's resignation or ask the state governor to drop a minister from the cabinet.
NC provincial presidents Devender Rana and Nasir Aslam Wani have said Mir is the Congress nominee in the cabinet and it is for him and the party to decide his fate.
Sources close to Omar Abdullah have told IANS he would shortly be writing to the prime minister or the defence minister seeking a probe into Gen. Singh's allegations, as also reports that the chief minister's phones were tapped.
A newspaper report said Mir had been paid from a secret fund to topple the state government in 2010, when the Valley reeled under the summer unrest in which 110 people were killed in clashes between the security forces and unruly mobs.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister and senior NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar has said "innocent people were killed by the security forces as part of the toppling game played by the army".
Former chief minister and union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Sources Farooq Abdullah and union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have demanded a CBI probe into Gen. Singh's allegations.
While a debate rages whether Gen. Singh or those who selectively leaked a highly confidential document that formed the basis of the newspaper report should be booked under the Official Secrets Act, the fact remains that Mir's political career has hit a dead end.
Nobody receives secret funds from the army or any other intelligence agency for whatever reason without becoming a hate figure in Kashmir.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 27-09-2013)