Srinagar: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) have demanded a rollback of the administration’s “unfair” and “arbitrary” decision to readvertise technical posts in several departments through the Service Selections Board.
Thousands of youths recruited under Rehbar-e-Taleem, Rehbar-e-Zirat, Rehbar-e-Janglat and National Youth Corps during the erstwhile Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government in 2017 stand terminated after working on a “meagre” honorarium. The employees staged a protest at the Press Enclave, at Lal Chowk, here on Sunday.
A day after the protest and the demand for rolling back the decision, the Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K, tweeted a clarification saying that the government “has no plans to disengage employees who are working under Rehber-e-Khel, Rehbar-e-Janglaat and NYC scheme”.
Earlier, an employee of the forest department said that scores of them, including PhDs in forestry, were recruited after more than a decade of struggle. These employees were expecting regularisation coming August after the completion of five years.
The Employee Joint Action Committee (EJAC) termed the government’s decision as “backstabbing”. EJAC president Rafiq Ahmad Rather warned of a stir against the move, which “has put thousands of families at risk”.
Terming the decision “malicious”, PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged that the administration’s objective is to engineer a change within the departments by replacing locals with non-residents.
“Terminating services of Rehbar e Khel, Janglat, Zirat, NYCs & referring these posts to SSRB afresh is a malicious move to destroy careers of these youngsters by ensuring non residents are given jobs at the cost of locals. LG should immediately rollback this absurd order (sic),” Mufti tweeted on Sunday.
Mufti’s fears were echoed by the National Conference, which denounced the decision. The party’s state spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar termed it a “grave injustice” against thousands of professionally trained youth who worked on meagre salaries just relying on the hope of regularisation after the stipulated timeframe of five to seven years.
“Undoing the decisions taken up by democratically elected governments by a bureaucrat set-up is unfair and unjust. Such decisions have no parallel in democracies and nowhere has this happened that a few bureaucrats have usurped a decision duly approved by the state cabinet and the sanction of the people of J&K. This makeshift administration has completely disregarded the decision, which had people’s mandate,” Dar said.
Questioning the decision, Dar said that behind the “fig leaf of promoting transparency, it seems that the administration is working on a plan to engage outsiders in J&K and keep the youths out of such job opportunities”.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami argued that the schemes were framed in view of the rising unemployment for technically qualified youth launched by the successive governments.
“These youths had been appointed on merit basis through proper recruitment procedure. Most of them have now crossed the age limit and are not in a position to compete at this stage with the fresh pass outs in their respective fields,” Tarigami said.
The government order comes at a time when tens of thousands of youths in Kashmir are unemployed. In March, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation published the Periodic Labour Force Survey, which showed that unemployment among educated youths in J&K has reached a staggering 46.3%, the second-highest in the country.
“Schemes like Rehbar-e-Janglat, Rehbar-e-Zirat, and Rehbar-e-Khel were framed to address the alarming rate of unemployment in J&K and more so because youths with professional degrees in these sectors were alienated for want of jobs in the government sector. And the recruitment for these posts took place under proper Cabinet decisions and through a transparent selection mechanism,” Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari said.
Alleging that the decision is a “complete breach of the commitments made by the erstwhile governments of J&K”, Bukhari said, “Today, this administration decided to de-freeze and abolish these posts. Tomorrow, another government may come and rescind this decision! This is not how a government works in a democracy. Such decisions brutally trample the will of the people thus making a mockery of the whole system of governance.”
The People’s Conference denounced the decision as well and said that the administration is making a mockery of the established societal, political and governmental norms and traditions.
“We are totally against this decision. Governments are about consistency and continuity. The soul and essence of governments in any democratic set-up is a continuous chain of decisions which are carried on by new governments in the interest of the people. If every government is to challenge and undo the actions and decisions of the previous governments, it would certainly be a recipe for disaster,” party spokesperson Adnan Ashraf Mir said in a statement.
(With PTI inputs)