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J&K Youth Dies by Suicide Saying Father’s Salary Withheld, Political Parties Call for Probe

The 24-year-old in a video claimed that his family was living in dire straits as the authorities had been withholding the salary of his father, who is a government school teacher.
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File Photo.

Srinagar: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are calling for an investigation into the alleged suicide of a youth from South Kashmir’s Kulgam district after the victim’s video surfaced pointing towards his family’s economic plight as a reason behind him taking the extreme step.

The 24-year-old in the video claimed that his family was living in dire straits and battling to survive as the authorities had been withholding the salary of his father – who is a government school teacher – for two years. The youth claimed that he was sacrificing himself for all the teachers whose salaries have been withheld for years.

The police have filed a case in the incident and launched an investigation to ascertain the facts. The incident, however, has sent shock waves across the region and led to strong condemnation against the administration.

The victim’s father, a government school teacher in Kulgam, was put under a list of adverse employees for being a former militant in the 1990s and subsequently, his salary was withheld.

Former J&K chief minister and People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti said on Twitter, “A man sacrificed his life to highlight the plight of teachers like his father whose salaries have been stopped since 2018. J&K admin should be held accountable for his death & plunging such families into dire straits.Hope new CS adopts a more humane approach unlike his predecessor.”

The Congress party termed the incident as “extremely shocking and unfortunate.” The party spokesperson, in a statement, said the incident was bound to draw the attention of the government to the attitude of the officials, which was “disappointing and inhuman.”

“There should be action against the officials responsible and those found involved in this particular case deserve to be prosecuted for provoking and forcing son of the teacher to commit suicide,” the statement read.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who has served as the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Kulgam between 1996 to 2018, also demanded a “time-bound probe and fixing of responsibility into the incident.”

“Even if reports of his father being a former militant are true, it should have been verified before he entered into service...Why are such people and their families being punished for it now? If somebody has shunned the path of violence 20 years back and returned to the mainstream, he should be allowed to live peacefully,” Tarigami said.

The Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari also urged that the officers responsible for stopping the teacher’s salary must be “booked for abetment in suicide case”.

“This is a highly ab-horrible incident that depicts an appalling picture of the level of mental stress and trauma of the families whose salaries have been withheld by an apathetic bureaucratic set-up even in the pressing times of Covid-19 pandemic. I hope the incident acts as an eye opener and a wake-up call for the government,” Bukhari was quoted as saying.

Bukhari also appealed the UT administration to adopt a “humanitarian approach” and refrain from adding to the already existing alienation among masses.

“The pandemic has already proven disastrous and has brought economic depravity to the people and the those at the helms should not draw sadistic pleasures from the miseries of the people in such circumstances,” he said.

Since the armed insurgency broke out in the region in the late 1980s, many who were part of it or were accused of being associated with the militancy, have tried hard to distance themselves from the insurgency. Thye have been since trying to lead normal lives as businessmen, workers, labourers and some have even joined government services. Hundreds also joined the state backed militia – known as the Ikhwan -- and carried out gross human rights violations to fight back the insurgency.

Pertinently, at least five government employees or teachers have been fired by the UT administration since May this year on charges of being adversarial to “national security”, a claim denied by the former.

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