Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Indian Express
Last year in April, Arun*(name changed) was thrilled. A loan of Rs 5 lakh was sanctioned to him which he had applied for renovating his house. He had cleared the first phase of the IBPS PO examination for JK Bank with satisfactory grades and was prepping for the second. Future seemed promising. After teaching students at a private institute, Arun would dedicate the rest of his time to prepare for the entrance. For him, clearing JK Bank examination was paramount. The responsibilities had shifted in his life. His father was to retire and he had to take up charge. The frugal amount he earned, from teaching students at an institute, was not enough for his family.
One year later, Arun is still teaching his students but, now, online with a lagging 2G network. He is paying the interest on the loan and is also engaged in some random jobs, including fixing taps and bulbs at the neighbourhood, to keep his family running. The JK Bank post that he was relying upon to feed his family, stands scrapped.
A notification by the administration in February 2020, informed applicants of the decision to scrap the ongoing JK Bank recruitment process. The decision sparked protests across Jammu and Kashmir, with aspirants coming out on the streets to protest against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Lt Governor GC Murmu. The protesters have been demanding rollback of the decision but there has been no response. Instead, fresh recruitment on fast-track basis through the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) were announced.
Arun was one of the aspirants.
“The decision came as a shocker. For last one year, we have been asking the administration to declare results but there has been no response. We were asked to wait. And now they are saying the recruitment process stands scrapped and we don’t know where to go,”he said.
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The administration had cited “legal infirmities” in the recruitment process, which was initiated in 2018, for filling the posts of 250 probationary officers and 1,200 banking associates in J&K. “I was very sure that I would make it through. I also qualified the first phase but now I am disappointed,” Arun added. Many aspirants said that they had left their jobs to prepare for the entrance examination and have ended up jobless amid a pandemic.
Flawed Job Policies
Unprecedented delay in conducting the examinations, flawed job policies, irregularities in the recruitment process and terminations are only a few of the raging issues in Jammu. For instance, in case of JK Bank recruitment, it took two years to conduct the three-phase examination and now the administration has declared the process as null and void. In another case, the post of Naib Tehsildar and Patwari by Jammu Kashmir Service Selection Board (JKSSB), issued in 2015-16, concluded recently in 2019- 20. Not just that, KAS examination in 2016 witnessed irregularities and consequently, the Answer Keys of the preliminary examinations were delayed by two years. The examination process of KAS 2018 is still pending and is expected to conclude in 2021.
In the latest, the technical employees employed under SRO 24 have been terminated. As per the notification issued on January 10, 2019, the administration had issued J&K Medical and Dental Education (Appointment on Academic Arrangement Basis) Rules, 2019. As per the notification, the nurses, OT technicians, and other technical employees were appointed across the medical colleges in Jammu and Kashmir. The employees were selected on academic basis initially for a period of one year extendable up to maximum six years.
The SRO 24 was framed to engage contractual employees in five new Government Medical Colleges(GMCs) including Kathua, Doda, Rajouri, Anantnag and Baramulla. In April, the employees were terminated without any reason being provided. “This is the use and throw policy of the government. We were working here based on our academic performance and after proper selection. We had been promised extension and now, without giving any reason they have terminated us,” said Anuradha, who was working under SRO 20 at GMC Kathua.
“Instead of opening new avenues for employment, the administration is terminating the already employed and that too amid a pandemic when the requirement of the paramedical staff is high,” said Amrish Jastoria, president, Global Youth Movement.
The terminated employees have been protesting since April outside the hospitals but there has been no response. The lack of acknowledgment of the ground realities has pushed the youth to disillusionment. There is a growing resentment against BJP in Jammu. The party which once witnessed an overwhelming support from Jammu is now losing its ground for the reasons of non-deliverance and false promises.
Yesterday, the administration amended SRO 202 by reducing the probation period from five years to two years. The Special Recruitment Rule, 2015, that is SRO 202 made it mandatory for the recruited employees to spend the probation period of five years at a meagre salary and with no increments and service benefits. The amendment came in the wake of the unflinching resistance displayed by the youth across Jammu putting immense pressure on the BJP to save its face. Now, as the SRO 202 stands abolished, BJP is not leaving any chance to bank on it for its political gains.
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“The recent amendment in SRO 202 attributes to the strong resistance put up by the youth of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The youth unitedly stood against the unconstitutional, discriminatory and unethical policy of SRO 202. And they had to amend as we stood strong. Sadly, it took five years for the administration to realise that this policy was fundamentally wrong,” said an activist, Kanwal Singh.
Kanwal Singh, an independent activist from Jammu who has been at the forefront of many youth protests, explained the reason behind the changing realities on the ground. “Every policy from SRO 202 to 24, have been anti-youth. Special provisions that used to benefit the youth of Jammu and Kashmir have been untimely scrapped. More than one lakh JK Bank aspirants were given false assurances on the timely declaration of the result. The youth are not only feeling disappointed but betrayed because Article 370 and 35 A were scrapped on the pretext of unemployment and development,” said Singh.
The politics of the right-wing party in Jammu has reportedly revolved around hyperboles and an aggressive campaign attempting to divide Hindu and Muslim voters. The ground realities have been ignored, false promises have been made. The much-hailed abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A has not resulted in development but unemployment. With the growing resentment and protests against the anti-youth policies, BJP has now started feeling the heat of exploiting the aspirations of the youth.