Srinagar: In a major jolt to Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in the state, the J&K Government has revoked its earlier order of appointing child rights specialist Hilal Ahmad Bhat as Mission Director of the scheme.
Bhat, who has worked with the UNICEF and Save the Children organisation, was also the Technical Advisor to the J&K Government on Child Protection and Juvenile Justice for the last few years.
On 27-10-2017, the J&K Government appointed a Mission Director ICPS for implementation of Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2013. An order No 340-SW of 2017, issued by the Social Welfare Department states: “In supersession to all previous orders on the subject, Mr Hilal Ahmad Bhat, Technical Advisor to Government of J&K on Child Protection and Juvenile Justice, is hereby appointed as Mission Director, ICPS J&K, till further orders, to roll out ICPS in the state.”
Bhat, according to the order, was asked to relinquish his assignment with the UNICEF upon his joining as the Mission Director ICPS. Bhat joined as Director, ICPS in the last week of October. However, making a mockery of the procedures, on November 13, General Administration Department (GAD) under order No 1425 posted Rubeena Kounsar (KAS) as Mission Director ICPS.
Bhat was virtually demoted to the post of the state coordinator of the scheme. Interestingly, Kounser joined the new assignment as soon as the order was issued.
“Bhat’s expertise working with United Nations assignment makes him the best and the most suitable candidate for the post. He is the only specialist in the state in ICPS. But, unfortunately, he became the victim of petty politics in the state,” a senior official in the Civil Secretariat told KNS.
“The appointment of Bhat with more than six years of experience working with the UNICEF and seven years of experience working with the Save The Children was done with a view to inculcate a culture of child rights in the state. But, unfortunately politicians in the state want to make a mockery of the system. They don’t want to implement the scheme professionally and it is the only reason that a professional like Bhat has been shown the door,” the official added.
The officer said that dozens of back door appointments are made in various government departments every month.
“Nobody raises voice against them. But when a meritorious person from UNICEF was appointed as Mission Director ICPS, some vested interests in the Government ganged up against it and ensured the order is revoked,” he added.
The integrated child protection scheme (ICPS) is a centrally-sponsored scheme aimed at building a protective environment for children through government-civil society partnership.
Commissioner Secretary General Administration Department Khurshid Ahmad Shah told KNS that the earlier order was issued by the Social Welfare Department. “The orders for appointment of Head of Departments are usually issued by the GAD. In this particular case it was not done.”
(With inputs from KNS)