SRINAGAR: A group of journalists scoffed at the Jammu and Kashmir Education minister, Naeem Akhtar, during a press conference convened in Srinagar by the state government to release the list of 'civil servants' terminated from services.

The much anticipated list, which was expected to crack the whip on corrupt babus and politicians, turned into a damp squib with just a dozen senior bureaucrats and officers figuring in the list of the 63 terminated from services,most of whom belong to the state's Revenue Department.

The termination of state employees, which Akhtar described as the first step towards a "corruption-free government", was approved on the recommendations of an inquiry committee headed by the chief secretary, Iqbal Khandey, which was tasked to look into graft and other charges against employees within the administration.

Although some of the top bureaucrats and politicians, including former ministers, are facing serious graft charges in the state, the axe, however, seems to have fallen on low-rung employees including junior assistants, head constables and patwaris.

Soon after Akhtar began to read out names of police officers terminated from services, beginning with the names of two head constables, a group of journalists attending the press conference broke into laughter. Akhtar asked the journalists, "Why are you laughing? This list has been prepared by a committee of government" but it didn't stop them, as smiles began to spread in the conference hall.

Later, hitting out at the state government, independent legislator from J&K's Langate, Engineer Rashid, accused the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of providing "political asylum" to "most corrupt bureaucrats" in his party, the PDP.

"Asgar Ali, Khurshid Alam, Mehboob Iqbal and many others have graft charges against them but Mufti inducted them into the party and designated many of them as MLCs, which has become a rehabilitation centre for politicians rejected by people and retired blue-eyed bureaucrats,” he said.

"If Mufti is so keen to eradicate corruption, why doesn’t he dare to take action against Dr Farooq Abdullah and Aslam Goni in the cricket scam. How come Dilawar Mir is still in his party? How did Raja Aijaz Ali whom PDP termed as main accused in Syed Yousuf murder case become a clean man after joining the party?" he said.

NC president, Dr Abdullah, has been reportedly named as accused No 5 in an FIR filed by the J&K Police in a multi-million scam that hit the Jammu Kashmir Cricket Association while senior PDP leader, Dilawar Mir was sentenced to three years by a Delhi court in a case related to wrongful release of Rs 30 lakh and contract for sale of urea to his firm by public sector National Fertilizers Limited in 1993-1996.

Training guns at the BJP, Rashid said the right-wing party must also explain its malpractices in the state, "Why were the six MLAs allowed to rejoin the party who had, as per BJPs own claims, taken a bribe of Rs 5 crore from previous coalition government to cross during MLC elections. Why no formal FIR was lodged against the accused MLAs and the one who gave them money?," Rashid asked.

He regretted that the senior leaders in the PDP, Congress and National Conference, many of who have been reportedly indicted by State Accountability Commission, didn't figure in the list. "When it comes to politicians, they all bail out each other,” he said.