The police in Jammu have used excessive force, including the lathi charge, on protesting JKSSB (Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board) aspirants on Wednesday.
The aspirants have been demonstrating against the hiring of Aptech company for conducting the examination and the functioning of the JKSSB selection board. The outrage is because APTECH has been blocked in several states for allegedly tampering with exams and violating the norms of fairness and transparency.
The protest has now entered its third day in Kashmir, where the aspirants have continued their demonstration against the authorities.
According to reports, many candidates gathered in Press Enclave and demanded that the company’s contract be terminated because they claimed it had engaged in misconduct.
The aspirants have been demanding transparency in the recruitment process and have alleged that the selection board has favoured the Aptech company unfairly.
One of the aspirants, NR Khan, stated, “We have been protesting for the past nine months. Since the JKSSB began recruiting here, they have only engaged in fraud and scams. Our case is sub-judicial. But to protect themselves from the legal probe, JSSB once again issued a directive that they would begin taking our exam on January 16 through this forbidden firm, which has been placed on every state’s list of blacklisted businesses.”
Sajad Shah, another aspirant, added, “The agreement with Aptech should be terminated. It is unacceptable for us to participate in exams run by a corrupt organisation. We don’t trust it since it already choked out the life of “justice.” He claimed that they are baffled as to why this corrupt business was rehired and its nefarious goals.”
On Wednesday, a top JKSSB officer stated that the protest was unjustified because the case involving the hiring of Aptech was “sub-judice”. The aspirants, however, are not happy with this reply and ask that their issues be resolved.
All significant political parties have denounced the administration’s use of force against the protestors.
The administration was criticised on Twitter by Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister and vice president of the JKNC. Mehbooba Mufti, the leader of the PDP, spoke to the media in Shopian and denounced the use of lathi on job applicants in Jammu. Chairman of the Jammu Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC), Sajad Lone, also condemned the police action
Former J&K chief minister and Democratic Azad Party (DAP) leader Ghulam Nabi Azad tweeted, “It is disappointing to learn about the use of violence against #JKSSB aspirants in J and K who were peacefully demonstrating for their future. I vehemently condemn such conduct and implore the government to appropriately safeguard students’ access to an education without fear of reprisal.”
Several student organisations have also denounced the police action and urged the LG administration to consider the concerns of job applicants about the hiring of APTECH Limited by JKSSB.
Fahim Mattoo and Sadaf Shabir are journalists based in Kashmir.