SRINAGAR: It has been a month since the volunteers of National Youth Corps Association went on a hunger strike demanding continuation of their services.
The volunteers on Tuesday vowed to continue the strike “at any cost” and even threatened of taking “other steps if government doesn’t meet their demands till the upcoming assembly session”.
Over 6000 educated but un-employed youth were engaged as volunteers under ‘National Youth Corps’ scheme on an honorarium of Rs 2500 per month in 2010 for a period of two years by the government. The engagements were made in the backdrop of massive street protests in Kashmir during which more than 120 youth were killed in police and CRPF action.
The government deployed and assigned these volunteers different jobs in several departments including Health, Rural Development, Social welfare, LAWDA, Education, Traffic and Disaster management.
After the volunteers were disengaged, government, in 2014, during NC-Congress regime, issued an order to engage these NYC volunteers as contingent workers in school education department against the vacancies created in newly 800 upgraded schools. The PDP-BJP government has refused to implement the order citing financial implications, forcing the youth to go on hunger strike from September 01.
“The outcome of this hunger strike will either be the fulfillment of our demands or our death,” said Asif Ali Bhat, state president of the association.
“If government doesn’t implement the cabinet order regarding our regularisation till the upcoming assembly session, we’ll be forced to take other aggressive steps in all districts of the state,” he said.
He accused the previous government of deceiving and ruining the future of about 6000 volunteers. “Actually, schemes are meant to deceive masses. There should be a mechanism and a concrete policy of providing jobs not like those on contract basis which eventually ruins one’s career,” he said.
Bhat said they have not received any honorarium since November 2012 and are waiting for further orders from the government.
“Recently, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu visited us and assured of looking into the matter as our demands are genuine. He acknowledged that there has been injustice with us but since then no further development has taken place in this regard and we’re left here as we don’t exist,” he said.
NYC president said the administration should not adopt such an “insensitive approach towards them as indifference and discrimination drives youth towards anti-social and anti-state activities”.
“The government is worried about the educated youth joining militancy. Let me tell you, these are the reasons behind youth taking such steps,” he added.