SINCE THE terror strike in Pulwama last week, state government employees from Kashmir have been facing sporadic attacks in Jammu — from stone pelting on their quarters to a ‘petrol bomb’ being hurled on Sunday night. Protesting against this, many of them refused to attend office on Monday, leaving Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration paralysed.
According to sources, in view of the curfew restrictions and the prevailing tension, the administration had deployed State Road Transport Corporation Buses buses to bring these employees to the Civil Secretariat. However, most of them refused to board the vehicles, saying they could not leave their families in view of the attacks on their quarters.
Commissioner-Secretary (General Administration Department) Hilal Ahmad Parray admitted that attendance was thin, affecting normal functioning of the Secretariat.
Ghulam Rasool, president of the All Civil Secretariat Employees Union, said some Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) officers who turned up at the Secretariat also did not attend office. They assembled outside, demanding adequate security for their families, he said.
While the government quarters at Subash Nagar and Janipura have reported incidents of stone pelting since Thursday, a vehicle caught fire when a ‘petrol bomb’ was hurled in Subash Nagar on Sunday night.
This led to tension in the area, as the government employees raised slogans, provoking counter-slogans by the residents. SSP (Jammu) Tejinder Singh said initial investigations ruled out the possibility of a petrol bomb, saying the fire would not have remained confined to the bonnet of a vehicle only.
“How can such incidents take place when there is curfew in the area,” asked Wajahat Hussain, a senior SRTC Union leader and vice-president of the Jammu and Kashmir Employees Joint Action Committee. The attacks are the handiwork of some miscreants who want to disrupt communal harmony, he said.
“We want the Governor’s administration to ensure foolproof security to the Kashmiri employees and their families in Jammu. If it cannot do so, it should close the Civil Secretariat for a week and send us back to the Valley. We will return to Jammu and resume our duties once the situation is normal,’’ said another union leader.
Of the nearly 5,000 employees at the Civil Secretariat, about 3,000 are from Kashmir. Those from Jammu have left their government quarters and returned to their homes.
Meanwhile, other minority-dominated areas in Jammu have also been targeted over the last few days. Zahoor Hussain, chairman of the United Muslim Front and president of the Markezi Jamia Masjid, said two processions passed through Talab Khatian on Friday — the first was led by local political leaders and the second by lawyers. He alleged that when the second procession was passing through the area, “some miscreants pelted stones at us, although we were waving the national flag and raising pro-India slogans”.
In Gujjar Nagar, nearly 30 vehicles were torched and another 30 damaged on Friday, including some belonging to Army and police personnel. One of the police officers affected is spearheading anti-militancy operations in Shopian district of Kashmir.
In Bagh-e-Bahu area, a 17-year-old Kashmiri girl was reported missing on Friday. Police have registered a case.
So far, nearly two dozen people have been arrested for stone pelting. Meanwhile, curfew was relaxed for three hours in some areas on Monday.