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Kashmir varsity students protest, want dismissed professor back

This is the first time the termination of a government employee allegedly for being a “threat to the security of the state” has met with protests.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: May 14, 2022 10:57:34 pm
Professor Dr Altaf Hussain Pandit. (Express/Sourced)

A day after Lt Governor Manoj Sinha terminated the services of Chemistry professor Dr Altaf Hussain Pandit, students of the University of Kashmir Saturday held a sit-in demanding he be reinstated.

This is the first time the termination of a government employee allegedly for being a “threat to the security of the state” has met with protests.

On Saturday morning, students and research scholars sat outside the varsity’s Chemistry department and held placards that read: “Black day”. They said the termination is unjustified and called for the decision to be revoked.

The students also wrote a letter to Lt Governor Sinha saying the allegations against Dr Pandit are baseless and that he is a “father figure” to them and someone with a “keen interest in scientific research and innovation”.

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While the protest went on, the university administration shut the campus gates and barred entry of journalists.

“He was the most dedicated and honest teacher we had in our department,” said a student over the phone.

“By terminating him without giving any reason, the government has snatched us of the opportunity to learn from the best. There seems to be some conspiracy in his sacking.”

On Friday, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha ordered Dr Pandit’s dismissal “with immediate effect”, declaring him a “threat to the security of the state”.

The order has cited clause 2(c) of  Article 311 of the Constitution which allows the President or the Governor to terminate services of employees without holding an inquiry.

The two others dismissed on Friday are Mohammad Maqbool Hajam, a resident of Lolab in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district who was employed as a teacher with the state’s school education department, and Ghulam Rasool, a senior grade police constable from Doda in Jammu province.

Dr Pandit is the highest ranked officer among 36 government employees terminated by the J&K government under the law in the past eight months.

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