Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir union territory government has sparked a controversy by constituting a team of senior police and administrative officials to investigate government employees involved in cases that they believe could endanger national security.
An order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) of the J&K UT read that a Special Task Force (STF) has been constituted to scrutinise cases of the government employees. The team will be led by Additional Director General of Police (CID) as Chairman of the committee; the Inspector General of Police, Jammu/Kashmir, Representative of Home Department, Representative of Department of Law, Justice Member and Parliamentary Affairs will be its members.
The task force, according to the fresh order, will also engage with members of what the government calls a Terror Monitoring Group (TMG) to identify employees they believe are involved in hostile activities. The group will engage other agencies and departments to identify such employees.
“The Special Task Force shall speedily scrutinise such cases in a time-bound manner and shall be serviced by the Criminal Investigation Department,” the GAD order said.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while questioning the timing of the order termed the it as part of “thought policing” in the region. “Ironic! When dealing with pandemic needs whole of the government approach, it seems to be busy with thought policing, choreographing normalcy junkets and focusing on information blockade,” a PDP spokesperson tweeted.
Senior politician M Y Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) told NewsClick that the decision to constitute an STF against the government employees was “arbitrary” and “draconian”.
“There are already enough provisions in the law to take action against those employees who are found violating service rules and there was no need to issue new orders on the account. The latest order can serve as a tool to the government and bureaucrats to suppress their subordinates. A sword of uncertainty has been kept on the heads of employees, which can also be exploited by their superiors,” Tarigami added.
The government order comes after the UT administration tweaked Jammu and Kashmir civil service regulations and introduced changes allowing the authorities to retire any public servant after he has completed 22 years of service or attained 48 years of age. A decision that drew flak from political and social circles of the region was seen as a ‘politically driven decision’ against the local employees.
“The government’s decision is purely unfair and can be easily misused by any senior official. It can also lead to corruption in the departments. Seems like there is no trust,” a government employee said wishing anonymity.
In July 2016, as the entire valley was caught in massive protests against the government following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, the authorities – then under the PDP-BJP coalition government – terminated services of at least a dozen employees for their alleged role in “anti-national activities”. The employees were dismissed from various departments including revenue, rural development and education after the administration prepared detailed dossiers against them.