A canteen owner waits for justice

As J-K CM plans to set-up a 24x7 call centre to address the people's grievances,a canteen owner – a victim of harassment by the officials at the IMPA– waits for a response to his complaint.

Written by MEHRAJ D LONE | Srinagar | Published:February 10, 2009 12:34 pm

As J-K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah plans to set-up a 24×7 call centre to address the grievances of the people,a canteen owner – a victim of harassment by the officials at the Institute Of Management and Public Administration (IMPA) – is waiting for a response to his complaint from the Chief Minster and the Divisional Commissioner.

Farooq Ahmad Lone,an unemployed person,had set up a canteen at the Institute Of Management and Public Administration (IMPA) in June last year after securing the bid for the tender. According to the terms of the tender,Lone was awarded the contract for a year.

“I got permission to run the canteen in IMPA after going through proper official procedures. I spent three lakh rupees on the tenders and other procedures. I put all my resources into setting up the canteen. I sold jewellery and also took loans,” says Lone.

The canteen was doing well and Lone was happy. “I thought I had finally overcome the frustration of unemployment,” he says. Then on October 10 last year,Lone received a notice from the Deputy Director of IMPA,ordering him to shut shop.

“The Committee has not recommended the extension of the canteen in your favour on the basis of poor-performance,un-satisfactory service and irresponsible behaviour from you for making arrangement for the programme conducted by the Indian Red Cross Society recently at IMPA campus,” the notice read,to Lone’s shock. “You are therefore,directed to vacate the IMPA premises immediately by 13-10-2008 positively”.

“I had successfully completed three month trial period required for confirming the one-year contract. So when I received the notice I was shocked,” Lone says. He approached the officials of the IMPA but to no avail.

Lone then wrote a letter to the Divisional Commissioner,Kashmir in which he alleged that he is being harassed and victimized “because an official at the IMPA,Abdul Sattar Laway is trying to accommodate one of his relatives to set up a canteen there. His high handedness,favouritism and policy of nepotism is evident from the record”.

The letter,however,drew no response. Lone then knocked the doors of the court and got a stay order against the IMPA order asking him to vacate. And when the new government took office in the state promising clean and transparent administration,Lone sent a letter to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah demanding action against the guilty officials.

“I am still waiting for a response to my letter,” Lone says. And now the officials at the IMPA,he says,have found new ways of harassing hum. “They order refreshment from outside and don’t buy anything from me. My canteen has become useless and I am suffering huge losses,” he says.

And it has hit Lone hard. “I am a poor man and earn my living from the canteen. But Laway is all set to snatch this living from me. He has already incurred me a loss of Rs 10 lakh by harassing me though different means. Even the payment that is with IMPA is not being released,” he says.

Iqbal Khanday,who took over as Director General of IMPA recently said he had “no idea or knowledge about this case”. The outgoing Director General,Pramod Jain,on the other hand,refused to comment. “I have left IMPA. I can’t say anything”.

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