By Shafat Mir
Anantnag: The school education department has used different yardsticks to treat teachers belonging to two different communities during and after the 2016 uprising in Kashmir. In south Kashmir’s Anatnag district, scores of teachers belonging to minority Pandit community, who have been appointed under a special employment package, did not return to their duties even after the uprising ebbed. On the contrary, the teachers belonging to the majority community were called for night duty when the incidents of burning down schools occurred in several parts of the Valley.
Sources in the education department said that as many as 164 teachers belonging to the Pandit community have been posted in Mattan and Qazigund blocks of the Anantnag district. The teachers are putting up at highly fortified settlements at Mattan and Vessu, Qazigund.
Sources in the Zonal Education Office (ZEO) Mattan said that all 57 Pandit teachers in their block fled from the Valley “as soon as the situation turned ugly.” “It was understandable when the teachers left in a particular situation. But they did not return when the situation returned to normal. They remained absent from duty until the winter vacations were declared,” sources said.
Officials said that the teachers were sent reminders to return to their duties but to no avail. “We withheld the salaries, which is a normal procedure for employees remaining absent from duty but the chief education officer was directed by the higher ups to release their salaries immediately. We followed the directions from the higher-ups”, ZEO Mattan told Kashmir Reader.
In Qazigund zone, as many as 107 Pandit teachers have been recruited under Prime Minister’s Special Package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants to Kashmir Valley. These teachers also left the Valley during the uprising. They refused to return even after the situation returned to normal.
“As of now the winter vacations are on but till December 2016 not a single migrant teacher joined the designated posting. We called them on several occasions after the situation improved but they declined to come back,” ZEO Qazigund Mohammad Ismail said.
Interestingly, the teachers from the majority Muslim and minority Sikh community, who are working across the Valley, were put to hassles by the government during the uprising.
“Divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan in his video conferences would emphasise that local teachers must be deployed in their respective schools to guard the properties. The same top official was compelling the officers to release salary of the absconding Pandit employees,” said a local teacher in Anantnag, refusing to identify himself for the fear of reprisal from the authorities.
“The teachers working in same schools are being treated in two different ways,” he said. “We don’t say that the Pandit teachers must have been deployed for night duty. They did the right thing to move out when the situation was not conducive in Kashmir. However, when the situation returned to normal they should have reported to their postings to claim salaries,” he said.
One of the clauses in the recruitment order of these migrant employees reads that in case the appointee migrates from Kashmir Valley at any time during his/her service tenure, for any reason whatsoever, his/her appointment/service shall stand terminated without any notice by itself by the action of his/her migration. “Going by this clause, the appointments must be terminated,” the teacher said.
The district level officers refused to comment saying that the issue pertained to the entire Kashmir division and it was the prerogative of the top level officers to decide over the fate of these teachers. Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan asked to verify the number of teachers from the directorate of education but refused to comment on the salary issue.
Directorate of school education spokesman Ghulam Nabi Shakir denied that the migrant teachers did not rejoin their duties after the reopening of schools.
“Before winter vacation, almost all the teachers joined their duties. Some teachers have been found absent but they have submitted leave applications,” Shakir said.