December 27, 2017 5:50:50 am
THE JAMMU and Kashmir government on Tuesday barred its employees from posting anything against the government on social media. In an order amending the Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees Conduct Rules, the government also ruled that employees cannot “endorse posts, tweets or blogs” of any political figure, or use their personal social media accounts for “any political activity”.
Calling it an order “against freedom of expression”, the state’s largest government employees’ association said that it will formulate a “strategy to counter it”.
The order states: “No government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immortal or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the government. They (government staff) shall not use personal social media accounts for any political activity or endorse posts or tweets or blogs of any political figure and also shall not use their accounts in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that the government endorses or sanctions their personal activities…”
The Service Rules Order (SRO) 525 also states, “They (employees) shall also not post inflammatory, extraneous messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response…”
The move comes two months after the government suspended an employee for his Facebook post criticising the PDP-BJP coalition government. Ajaz Parray, an employee of Rural Development Department, was suspended for his Facebook post calling the state government a “failure” after the braid-chopping incidents in the Valley. Parray was accused of “levelling baseless allegations against the government while being a government employee himself”.
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Trying to play down Tuesday’s order, state Cabinet spokesperson and senior minister Naeem Akhtar said that government employees must conduct themselves properly. “Personally, I feel that social media is a reality and there can be no blanket ban on it,” Akhtar said. “But civil servants should conduct themselves in accordance with conduct rules.”
Stating that the order “cannot be justified”, Abdul Qayoom Wani, president of Employees Joint Action Committee, the largest association of government employees in the state, said, “Everyone — whether a government employee or not — has a right to express himself/herself, she/he has a right to raise voice against corruption, nepotism or failure of the government. After all, a government employee is part of the society.”
He said there are about 5 lakh government employees in the state. “They are all well-educated. If they cannot put up their concerns, suggestions and grievances, who will do that?”
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