Kashmir: Govt job aspirants in limbo after new guidelines

Kashmiri government job aspirants writing exam for a fifth-grade teaching position. Photo: Malik Nasar

Six years ago, Altaf was happy with a job in a private company in Bangalore until his father compelled him to prepare for a government job. He quit the job and started preparing for government exams.

The 27-year-old had spent years preparing. But new guidelines from the Indian government makes it near impossible for Kashmiri youth to get employed in a government posting due to unprecedented scrutiny.

“I used to believe a government job is about security in Kashmir, but with the introduction of new job policies, one feels more threatened being in the job than being without the government job,” Altaf told Maktoob  

As per new service rules, the selected candidates, besides being asked to provide information about themselves, their family members, including in-laws, have to provide information about mobile numbers used during the last five years, the registration number of vehicles owned or used, email and social media or web-based portal accounts, in addition to bank and post office account numbers among others.

Son of a labourer who earns less than 500 a day, Altaf has taken coaching classes in the past to crack any government job. He has failed in many attempts; a recent one was the exam of Panchyat account assistant.

“Competition is high and jobs are less. You have to accept the reality and prepare hard as there are family requirements and we don’t have reliable private-sector jobs,” says Altaf, who took a part-time job at a milk shop to make ends meet.

Government jobs have always been highly sought-after in Kashmir. Even highly qualified candidates are vying for positions in the government apparatus.

Sarmad who is at ground zero of Kashmiri’s desperate search for employment believes such rules and tactics yield nothing but will push youths towards more depression in conflict zones like Kashmir.

“Whatever will be the ideological belief of my blood relation I don’t need to follow that too, there is an ideological difference in every family,” says Sarmad a job aspirant from the last 10-15 years. He has appeared in many job-related exams but has missed it by “a fraction margin”.

“New verification and documentation system have hugely impacted every job aspirant. It has depressed me and I have lost the entire track. This is the big halt to the Right to Privacy, the job policy should be very simple so that unemployment rates would decrease, also, I used to pent-up my feelings on social media before but now I have to think ten times before writing anything there,” he says

“One should not judge other people by just means of social media handles, those handles are part of one’s right to liberty,” he added

Losing jobs

The recent announcement by the government to set up a special task force to identify and scrutinize the cases of employees under clause 2(C) of Article  311 of the constitution empowers the state to dismiss employees who may be a danger to state security without conducting an inquiry.

Idress Jan, 39, from Dardpora village, the frontier district Kupwara — known as the ‘village of widows’ because 300-odd women in this village whose husbands have been killed or disappeared since 1989 — was a government teacher for the last 15 years and was recently terminated from the service without any reason.

Idrees with his students. Photo: Special arrangement

“For what purpose have the officials labelled me as a national security threat? The policy was such even SHO of the concerned police station and other officials were not aware of the reason behind my dismiss,” Idress told Maktoob.

He served five months punishment in Kotbalwal jail during the uprising of 2016 when militant commander Burhan Wani was killed.

“I am not a coward, and I am not begging in front of the government. I am being punished for a crime that I never committed. I only want my right. If I had an FIR, I have served my punishment, why I am again haunted for something which happened years ago,” he questions.

Idress is the sole breadwinner for his family with two twin daughters, son and wife.

“People are sympathizing which is also a sort of enough amid these difficult political scenarios in Kashmir, but only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches, what the officials have done is a complete human rights violation.

“The new employment rules issued by the government have affected many aspirants. It may have serious repercussions,” he added.