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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mehbooba Govt terminates services of 9 J&K officials

‘It’s just eyewash as Ministers have come to rescue of over 150 government officials found involved in current turbulence’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 19: For the first time after 1995, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has terminated the services of 9 of its regular employees on the charges of posing threat to the security, sovereignty and integrity of the State.

In its issue of September 26, STATE TIMES had exclusively reported that Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP-BJP government was considering dismissal of services of the 180 employees who had been found involved in subscribing to the summer turbulence. According to highly placed official sources, these employees, who also included some officials of the Government of India’s BSNL and Project Beacon, had been found actively involved in enforcement of the separatist-sponsored shutdown, stone pelting, attacks on Police and security forces and organising protests and demonstrations.

Among the departments, most of these employees were from Education and among the districts most of them belonged to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s home district of Anantnag.

State and Central intelligence agencies, according to sources, had conducted an extensive exercise and prepared dossiers for terminating the services of the government employees allegedly involved in current turmoil. Over 90 persons have got killed and thousands injured in the 103-day-long turbulence that was triggered off by the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8.

Top level sources in the State government revealed to STATE TIMES on Wednesday that, following the Government’s decision, administrative Secretaries of 8 departments issued orders late last night, terminating the services of 9 employees. While as 2 of such employees belong to Education Department, one each belongs to Revenue, Public Health Engineering, Fire and Emergency Services, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Forest.

Even as Advocate General Jehangir Iqbal Ganai did not respond to phone calls, sources in his office said that on ‘express directions from Law Department’ necessary caveats were filed in both wings of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court so as to ensure that none of the dismissed officials gets the termination orders stayed. Principal Secretary Home, R.K. Goyal, picked up the phone. Asked about the Government’s decision and the termination orders, he said that he would call back. He didn’t until filing of this report.

Law Secretary Abdul Majid Bhat claimed that he had no knowledge of the termination orders having been issued. “About six days back, Government just sought legal opinion which we provided. This decision is at a higher level and we are not in the loop”, Mr Bhat told STATE TIMES.

However, knowledgeable sources revealed that a high level meeting on Tuesday night decided that respective administrative Secretaries would issue the termination orders separately. It had been decided by the Government that the dismissal orders would be issued under section 126-B of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir invoking the provisions of posing threat to security, sovereignty and integrity of the State. The appointing authority under this section has powers to dispense with the obligation of holding a departmental enquiry prior to taking the decision of dismissing a government employee’s service.

Section 126-C of the Constitution of J&K, according to sources, gives identical powers to the Governor. However, it had been decided that respective administrative Secretaries would issue the orders under 126-B.

Sources pointed out that today’s dismissal orders were substantially different from those issues by Omar Abdullah’s and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s governments two or three times while declaring regular employees of a particular age and service length as “dead wood” and terminating their services under Section 226 of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Rules and Regulations.

Previous dismissals

Previously, Governor KV Krishna Rao had dismissed services of 20 junior Government employees in 1995 over charges of their involvement in subversive activities, terrorism and activities inimical to the security, sovereignty and integrity of the State. However, in the wake of seriously negative reaction from the employees, Governor was forced to revoke the orders.

Prior to that, Governor Girish Chander Saxena had taken an identical action against five influential gazetted officers of J&K Government when the State was under President’s rule and V.P. Singh was Prime Minister of India in 1990. Their dismissal was revoked in less than a year as “good will gesture” under direction of Prime Minister Chander Shekhar on sustained persuasion of National Conference leaders Dr Farooq Abdullah and Saif-ud-din Soz.

Those dismissed and subsequently reinstated by Governor Saxena included then Chief Engineer of PDD and Chairman of the employees coordination committee Abdul Hamid Matoo, then DC Excise and now Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar, former Director of Handicrafts Muzaffar Ahmad Khan, Abdul Salam Bhat (who subsequently functioned as DC Udhampur and DC Srinagar) and KAS officer GM Mubarki who then functioned as RTO Kashmir and General Manager with J&K Bank.

In 1986, Governor Jagmohan had on security grounds dismissed a number of the Government employees including then Professor of Persian literature and now senior Hurriyat leader, Abdul Gani Bhat. Same year later, Prof Gani played a key role in floating Muslim United Front (MUF) — the mainstream precursor of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. Later, he served as Hurriyat’s Chairman twice.

It was not immediately clear whether Mehbooba’s Government has concluded the drastic action with the dismissal of only 9 junior employees or it has been taken up as a continuous process. Some of the official sources maintained that similar action would follow against other employees found involved in the turbulence. However, at least one well-placed source claimed that different Ministers and politicians of one political party had come to the rescue of over 150 employees in the list and they had managed to protect them from dismissal of service. “This is just eyewash”, he asserted.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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