12 J&K govt workers sacked for ‘taking part in protests’

This is the first time in 26 years that the government has sacked its employees for “taking part” in protests.

Written by Basharaat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: October 21, 2016 4:39 pm

FOR THE first time since 1990, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday terminated the services of 12 employees for “questioning the sovereignty and integrity” of India and “violating the rules governing conduct of employees” in the state. According to the government, these employees either “instigated” or were “part of” the protests triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

“The law has taken its course,” J&K government spokesman and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar told The Indian Express. “These are only the worst cases”.

The Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC), which has over four lakh members, said the government action was “unjustified and one-sided”.

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This is the first time in 26 years that the government has sacked its employees for “taking part” in protests. In 1990, five government employees were dismissed for “anti-national” activities, triggering a three-month shutdown by government workers. Education Minister Akhtar was one of the five sacked in 1990.

While the government has not revealed the names of the employees, sources said they are lower-rung officials, and include two officials of the education department, one from public health engineering, and a revenue official. There is no gazetted officer in the list, according to these sources.

“This is unjustified,” said Qayoom Wani, president of the employees union. “How can you terminate somebody without an inquiry? How can you terminate someone without issuing a showcause notice,” he said.

Wani said the government order was arbitrary and they would fight it both “legally as well as at the organisational level”.

“It is a one-sided decision. You cannot act against an employee just on the basis of personal enmity or a police FIR. If the government had any complaint against these employees, they should have called them, listened to their side of the story. They could have suspended them pending an inquiry. It (termination) is like slitting their throats,” he said. “We stand behind these employees and will fight for them. This is a government attempt to harass the employees of the state”.

Meanwhile, the government has filed a caveat in court to prevent the workers from seeking a stay on its order.

The dismissal order followed a report by the J&K Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). A month ago, the investigating agency of the state police had prepared a list of about 150 government employees, including some gazetted officers, who were allegedly “involved in protests”. This list was sent to the government for action.