Feature: Kashmir: New ‘Dystopian’ Order on Passport, Employment Verification Sparks Criticism

By Behzad Parvez

Srinagar, August 04 (KMS):  Notably, passport and employment applications have always had to go through the meat grinder of police verification in the past as well and thousands of people whose relatives were militants or had connection with militant outfits were denied clarification. In 2007, as Indian Express reported , around 60, 000 Kashmiri families were on a security blacklist. Many would get reprieve after moving the High Court.

But the new directives, experts say, have a purpose of further shrinking the space for public protests by deploying a psychological pressure tactic on the people conveying them that dissent has consequences.

“The youngsters are the categories the government has enumerated. They remain in the forefront of such public upheavals. So this is a sort of keeping pressure on people and preempting any possible eruption which they anticipate,” said Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a professor of Law.

The government is coming up with these directives “just to keep a pressure on the population which they feel has got immune to whatever pressure they had exerted in 2019”.

Otherwise, he said, “Whenever we applied for a passport, for employment, CID verification was always there.”  And any sort of involvement created impediment in delivery of passports as well as in employment opportunities.

Echoing similar sentiments, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said these ‘coercive orders’ are against the interests of Kashmiri people and to ‘deny’ them jobs and other employment opportunities.

Mirwaiz, who continues to be under house detention since August 5, 2019, told Clarion India that the government has been extending laws to Kashmir since “unilateral decision” of 2019. Such laws, he said, are not only ‘anti-Kashmir’ but also ‘un-democratic.’

He said the latest diktat is aimed at making ‘our sentiments and our political aspirations a criminal act’. “It is another step in India’s attempt to ensure oppression in every sphere of Kashmiri life.”

In February this year, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said those ‘using children for stone-pelting and other illegal activities’ will now face ‘rigorous imprisonment’ of up to seven years. He said using or inducing children to stone pelting was not only a crime in the eyes of law but was also a crime against humanity.

Although there have been isolated incidents of stone pelting in the last few months, such incidents have seen a dip since August 2019 after a persistent lockdown, mass incarcerations, increased surveillance and frequent use of preventive detention laws.

In 2019, there were 1,999 incidents of stone-pelting, of which 1,193 took place after the government of India announced abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that year in August.

In January, this year, J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh informed that there was a 87.13 per cent dip in incidents of stone-pelting last year as compared to 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There have been 255 stone-pelting incidents in 2020 as compared to the incidents in 2019 and the year (2020), witnessed a 87.31 per cent decline,” he said.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Verification of Character and Antecedents) Instructions, 1997, the CID is tasked with verifying the character and antecedents of candidates in J&K who have passed the qualifying exams for government employment.

The J&K administration amended rules regarding the appointment of new employees on June 21 this year. Instruction 2 was inserted into the J&K Civil Services Instructions, 1997 which made CID verification mandatory for government employees.

“The appointing authorities, on the receipt of attestation forms from the candidates shall forward these forms with a covering letter (sealed and marked secret) in the form prescribed to this Government Order directly to the CID Headquarter for conducting the verification of the Character and Antecedents of the selectees,” the order said.

The political parties are also unhappy with the “harsh” order. Peoples Conference led by former separatist turned unionist Sajad Lone condemned the “stringent” order and said the order not only gives “arbitrary powers” to the sleuths of the Special Branch of the police, but also appoints them as “judge, jury and executioner to pulverise career prospects of Kashmiri youth and to push them away from the mainstream of the country.”

5,362 employees under scanner

The police circular comes amid reports that the CID has identified 5,362 employees in J&K who have recently entered government service without getting the mandatory security clearance.

The employees were recruited under the previous PDP-BJP government, which collapsed in 2018, and they are already withdrawing salaries and other allowances, sources in the government said.

Invoking Article 311 of the Indian constitution, the J&K administration has so far terminated nearly two dozen employees for their involvement in ‘anti-national’ activities. An assistant professor and two teachers were also terminated.

Commenting on the situation emerging in Kashmir after the latest circular, a Kashmir University student said that “no fundamental rights exist in Kashmir anymore”.

“There is no right to protest, no right to dissent, no right to ask for freedom and liberty. And then harming career job prospects for thousands of youngsters is a part of that plan.”

Courtesy : South Asian Wire


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