There may be many divergent views on the J&K government’s recent sacking of four employees by invoking Article 311 (2) (c) of the Indian Constitution that allows termination of service without holding an inquiry “in the interest of the security of the State”. However, while some legal eagles, members of civil society and rights activists may not be happy with this decision, the same has been very well received by the masses.
The four whose services have been terminated include Syed Abdul Mueed, the son of Pakistan based United Jihad Council [UJC] chief Syed Salahuddin and 2019 batch JKAS cadre officer Assabah Arzoom Khan, [wife of dreaded JKLF terrorist and self-confessed mass murderer Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitte Karate] posted in Kashmir Rural Development Department’s Publicity Wing. The other two are Dr Muheet Ahmad Bhat, and Majid Hussain Qadri who were working at Kashmir University’s Departments of Computer Science and Management Studies respectively.
On condition of anonymity, government officials have given the following reasons for J&K Governor Manoj Sinha’s assent to terminate their services under provisions of Article 311:
· Mueed’s 2012 appointment as an IT consultant in Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute [JKEDI] has been marred in controversy, right from the initial selection on contractual basis by a panel that had three terrorist sympathisers, to his appointment being made permanent without mandatory CID verification. Besides evidence of him indoctrinating students in JKEDI, intelligence agencies have also discovered that he provided terrorists with information and logistical support to facilitate attacks against security forces in and around the JKEDI complex. [Interestingly, three such terrorist attacks have taken place between 2013 and 2019!]
· Ms Khan secured a job in Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology in 2003 through irregular means and was sacked in 2007 for prolonged absence due to her frequent foreign trips to funnel funds for terrorist activities in J&K. A 2019 batch JKAS officer, she till her termination, was working in Kashmir Rural Development Department’s Publicity Wing and is “a diehard secessionist having deep ties with terrorist outfits and ISI.”
· The services of KU professors Dr Bhat and Qadri have been terminated as they were openly “propagating secessionist-terrorist agenda in the university by radicalising students for advancing the programme and agenda of Pakistan and its proxies.”
The pro Pakistan lobby in J&K headed by Hurriyat may try to portray these terminations as a sob-sob vendetta story of innocents being penalised for their beliefs or actions of their fathers/husbands. It’ll also contend that absence of any public outcry against irregular appointment of family members of terrorist leaders and separatists is proof that nothing of this sort has been happening. However, everyone knows that it’s primarily due to fear of retribution that Kashmiris choose not to air their seething anger on seeing the kith and kin those responsible for supporting Pakistan’s proxy war and turning Kashmir Valley into a veritable battle zone, securing plum posts in various government departments.
Nevertheless, whenever allegations of rules being disregarded in order to facilitate selection of family members of terrorists and separatists makes news, terrorist groups and separatist organisations invariably claim that these jobs were secured purely on merit. In his book ‘Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years’ released in 2015, former RAW chief AS Dulat has revealed that it was on Hizbul Mujahideen [HM] chief Syed Salahuddin’s discreet request that a seat in medical college was allotted to this terrorist leader’s son.
While both HM and Hurriyat have firmly rejected this claim and furthered the ‘merit’ explanation, two extremely pertinent questions arise. One, why would a highly respected former sleuth known for his integrity make a brazenly false accusation which could well erode his own credibility? Two, if Dulat’s assertion is true, then it’s obvious that such an irregular seat ‘allotment’ in a Jammu medical college couldn’t have been made without the ‘blessings’ of the then J&K Chief Minister, Farook Abdullah. So, if Dulat’s claim is false, then why didn’t Abdullah outrightly rubbish this accusation that portrays him as who pandered to the whims and fancy of terrorists?
It’s possible that family members of terrorists and separatists could have secured government jobs on merit. However, what makes things appear quite odd and raises genuine doubts is the astounding streak of brilliance that seems to “run uniformly in certain families of terrorists and separatists. An example- according to media reports, HM supremo Salahuddin has six sons, and while one is a doctor [with a controversial medical school admission that’s been discussed above] and is working in a government hospital, all the other five too have worked in various government jobs.
Whereas the service of his son Syed Abdul Mueed working as an IT manager in JKEDI has been terminated now, Salahuddin’s two other sons named Ahmad Shakeel and Shahid Yousuf had earlier lost their jobs under Article 311. The media has quoted an unnamed source as revealing that this drastic action was necessary because all the three siblings were “inducted in the government system in the 2000s in brazen violation of norms and after circumventing the vetting process.” The remaining two sons of the HM supremo are reportedly still employed in J&K administration. Few fathers can boast of such a stupendous achievement!
Similarly, in 2016, Hurriyat heavyweight Late SAS Geelani’s grandson Anees-ul-Islam was appointed as a ‘research officer’ at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC). This happened when Mehbooba Mufti was J&K Chief Minister and considering her penchant for keeping terrorists and separatists in good humour, Islam’s direct selection to a gazetted grade equivalent position in the government was understandably highly suspicious. Many believe that coming in wake of the 2016 summer agitation, this was Mufti’s quid pro quo seeking Geelani’s indulgence for quick return of normalcy in the Valley. However, the fact that he was leading a group that used to covertly fly drones and after recording scenes of clashes between law enforcement agencies and unruly mobs, shared such footage with Pakistan based ISI operatives for propaganda purposes.
So, when the then US Ambassador to India David Mulford in his 2006 cable to Washington wrote that “Kashmir politics is as filthy as Dal Lake”, and that “corruption cuts across party lines and most Kashmiris take it as an article of faith that politically-connected Kashmiris take money from both India and Pakistan”, he wasn’t exaggerating. Similarly, JKLF chief Yasin Malik too was absolutely truthful in telling a US official that “Kashmiri politics is no longer about ideology, it’s all a money game”. This is precisely why the determined attempt of J&K’s present dispensation to stem this rot through hard decisions that puts the pro-Pakistan lobby in its place is praiseworthy and merits due appreciation!