“It is,” he states. There, the matter is settled. No more prosecution with the saffron.
However, there may be some legal nicety. “It was always considered illegal and I am not sure it can be changed now as the issue is now between the farmers,” he informs, “not the government.”
The saffron mafia
It was the saffron mafia that started the whole story. There is a very well-established practice of farmers in Kashmir who sell saffron to some traders at a premium. These traders then sell the saffron to other farmers who would never sell to any one but the saffron mafia. In this way, not only a large part of the saffron farming population of Kashmir is made wealthy, yet they are also taking part in the corruption of the government and its institutions.
“The saffron mafia has never been very much in the public and I think they were used as a smokescreen for the real culprits…the government and its departments, officials, bureaucrats and judges of the law courts,” notes Jammu & Kashmir deputy commissioner of police Anjali Chowdhury.
She is of the opinion that it’s not the farms – it’s not even the traders who sell saffron – but the mafia behind any corruption. She says that while the real culprits are always the corrupt officials who in reality take part with the mafia in their illegal activities, in this case the mafia is also being used by the farmers with no help from the police. When the police was investigating the case, the farmers who were involved had been brought to the police station and even after being taken to the police station, the farmers were kept there. “The police was not keen to take action against the farmers because they are known in Kashmir to be involved in corruption in many ways,” asserts Chowdhury. “And the police knew that and so the police could not take action against these farmers. There is no other alternative for the police to act in this case.” She says that at one stage, a group of police officers arrived at police station to register a case and also to interrogate the farmers after which they also were sent back home.
“Some of the farmers accused in these cases in the past have been released. In fact, some of the persons accused in this case are still in judicial custody,” said Pankaj Kaul, director of the office that deals with human trafficking, who was the first to
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