J&K government cracks whip on employees over unrest

Srinagar, Oct 20 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir government has sacked over a dozen of its employees for “anti-national activities” and fomenting an ongoing street unrest in the Kashmir Valley, an official said on Thursday, sparking a stir threat from an employees’ group in the state.

The official said that “reports on their (sacked employees) anti-national activities prepared by the police were forwarded to the Chief Secretary, who then directed respective heads of departments to issue orders terminating their services”.

The dismissed employees include an assistant registrar of Kashmir University. The others are from education, revenue, public health engineering, power, consumer affairs and public distribution departments.

“The state government invoked Article 126 of the state Constitution to carry out the action,” the official added.

Some of the dismissed employees have already been arrested while others were said to have gone in hiding.

The authorities have slapped the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) against some of the arrested employees. The act allows the police to arrest anybody on a mere suspicion of a threat to public safety. The suspect can be jailed for two years without any charges or trial.

The dismissal of the employees sparked angry reaction from the Employees’ Joint Action Committee (EJAC) that threatened to “hit the roads if the government does not re-consider its decision”.

The union’s president, Abdul Qayoom Wani, said the number of sacked employees was around 40.

“The incumbent government has crossed all limits of suppression. All the sacked are lower rung employees and we will protect their interest at any cost. EJAC will provide legal assistance to these employees,” Wani said, adding that the termination orders violated the employee protection laws.

“How can you sack an employee without following a proper procedure? It is harassment and a move to cow down the employees who are part and parcel of the society,” Wani said.

The sacking of employees appears to be part of the government strategy to crack down on alleged troublemakers in the valley where normal life has been disrupted for over three months now since the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

At least 91 persons have been killed, over 12,000 injured and thousands have been arrested in the last 104 days of the ongoing unrest — the bloodiest the valley has seen in six years.