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news details
Even in lockdown construction mafia called shots
Videos, audio clips of employees being abused by contractors go viral
6/5/2020 12:04:07 PM

Early Times Report

Jammu, June 4: Extraction, lifting and transportation of construction material from the stone crushers continued unabated during the first two months of nationwide lockdown despite authorities imposing a complete ban on all such activities.
In some of the video messages, which are in possession of Early Times, some contractors or drivers are seen abusing an employee of the concerned department who had objected to their activities. He is seen running to save himself from the contractors.

According to the audio and video messages circulated on social networking sites, which are reportedly two months old, a conversation between an employee of the department and the contractor has gone viral. “The contractor is heard abusing the department and the employee. The employee accepts that he has taken Rs 1500/ as bribe from the contractor for allowing dumpers to pass through some areas in Kathua district”, the audio conversation reveals.

According to sources, the conversation is around two months old and the person abusing the department’s employee, is a contractor from Jammu. “In connivance with the staff members, they (contractors) had been lifting construction material from stone crushers located in Keerian Gandial and other areas of Kathua district. Some of these stone crushers were actually sealed by the department even before the lockdown and during the lockdown, there was total ban on lifting and transportation of construction material”, an official said, adding that but the construction material was actually transported from the stone crushers in Kathua district and was reaching Jammu through National Highway but no naka party was stopping these dumpers.

In the audio conversation, the contractor is heard threatening the department’s employee chowkidar, for stopping the vehicles. He tells him that another employee, who had stopped the vehicle some other day in Kathua, was transferred immediately for doing the same.

Sources said that the vehicle was caught transporting construction material and was seized in Kathua town by the employee. A FIR was also reportedly registered by the department against the contractors in Kathua, as the mining in River Ravi had been banned for the last over eight months and the stone crushers were also seized from where the construction material was transported, sources said.

Though the contractor could be heard abusing the employee and even threatening to teach him a lesson but in return the Chowkidar can be heard pacifying the contractor and showing his willingness to allow the transportation of material, even during the lockdown.

“The power of the construction mafia could be gauged from the audio tape that, the contractor has been openly threatening to teach a lesson but in return the employee could not say anything”, sources said, adding that the contractor mafia is so powerful that their vehicles had been transporting material from Kathua to Jammu but neither Police, nor any other department could muster courage to stop them, as they are well connected.

Sources said that the Chowkidar in the audio as well as a video, has been working as Mineral Guard for the last few months. “The same Chowkidar was placed under suspension by the then Deputy Commissioner Kathua on 28/9/2018 and was attached to DC Office Kathua but later he was reinstated after he had tendered a written apology”, sources said, adding that the conversation between the contractor and the employee is just tip of an iceberg. It exposes the pathetic situation in which Department’s employees have been working and mafia has been running the affairs, which had getting the construction material transported even during the lockdown.

DMO Kathua Devinder Singh said that he had only joined Kathua a month back but the video or audio mentioned, were reportedly few months old, when he was posted in Jammu. He further said that the department has already sought details from the crusher owners to know about their inventories of the construction material.

Asked about a Chowkidar working as Mineral Guard, the DMO further said that as the department has been facing shortage of employees so employees have been assigned duties as per the requirement of the department to run the affairs. He said that some of the employees were also deputed at quarantine centres.
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