SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday sacked four more of its employees for allegedly having links with separatists. This is the latest in a series of moves by the government to terminate the services of the employees “in the interest of the nation”.
Pursuing a tough policy against what it sees as their anti-national activities, their being in the government service a threat to the security and integrity of the country or their violating Government Servants Conduct Rules, the J&K government has in the past three years dismissed dozens of its employees including teachers, revenue officials, engineers and policemen.
In one such spell, two sons of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Muhammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin were with nine others terminated “in the interest of the nation as per the Constitutional provision” in July last year.
On Saturday, the Hizb’s chief another son Syed Abdul Mueed working as an IT manager in J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) was with wife of former Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) commander Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, a scientist and a professor at the University of Kashmir fired “in the interest of the security of the state” under Article 311 of the Constitution of India.
Dar’s spouse Assabah-ul-Arjamand Khan was a Jammu Kashmir Administrative Services (JKAS) officer posted as a DPO (Publicity) at the Directorate of Rural Development, Kashmir. Dar who is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail after his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an alleged terror funding case is accused also of slaying many members of the minority Kashmiri Pandit community in the initial days of militancy in the Valley.
An identical order issued by the government to sack Mueed, Khan and Dr. Muheet Ahmad Bhat, Scientist-D in Post-Graduate Department of Computer Science and Majid Hussain Qadri, Senior Assistant Professor, Department of Management Studies at University of Kashmir states that Lieutenant Governor is satisfied after considering the facts and circumstances of the case(s) and on the basis of the information available, that the activities of these officials are such as to warrant their dismissal from service. The order further says that under sub-clause (c) of the proviso to clause (2) of Article 311 of the Constitution of India that in the interest of the security of the state, it is not expedient to hold an enquiry in the case(s)”.
Reacting to their dismissal, former minister and People’s Conference (PC) chairman, Sajad Gani Lone, tweeted. “Every citizen of India has his or her own rights. A son cannot be held responsible for his father or wife for her husband or a father for his son. Sad - that kinship is used as a justification to sack people. This simply is not good. In all humility I register my disagreement”.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have also in the past criticised the government over such dismissals. Ms. Mufti had after five government officials were fired over similar allegations earlier this year said that these actions are at aimed “offsetting the balance in the administration and disempowering locals”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had informed the Parliament in March that “no new rules” have been notified by the J&K administration under which employees can be dismissed from service if they or their family members are found to be “sympathetic” to people accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA).
Minister Of State in the MHA, Nityanand Rai, had while responding to a written query in Rajya Sabha on whether the J&K administration has notified new rules under which employees can be dismissed from service if they or their family members are found to be “sympathetic” to people accused under the UAPA and the PSA said, “The Government of J&K has not notified any new rules in this regard.”
The J&K government under Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, had in April 2020 constituted a Special Task Force (STF) for identifying and scrutinizing its employees involved in any activity detrimental to the security of the country or deemed as anti-national, evoking sharp criticism from various political parties, employees’ trade unions and human rights activists.
The J&K government had subsequently designated a separate official committee responsible for scrutinizing and recommending cases under Article 311(2)(c) of the Constitution.