SRINAGAR: The casual employees manning the news unit of Radio Kashmir Srinagar have alleged that they have not been paid their dues for last six months.
Apart from three permanent employees the news unit is largely manned by around 100 casual assignees.
The staffers who spoke to Kashmir Reader said that in the absence of salaries to casual employees, rumours were rife that the administration intends to shift the news unit to New Delhi like it was in the early 90s after the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir.
“The rumors are gaining weight because of the fact that from the last six months we haven’t been paid a penny despite repeated requests and representations to the officials here (in Srinagar) and in New Delhi. We are being ignored even though we risked our lives to keep station running during toughest time during the last fifteen years,” one of the casual assignee said wishing not to be named.
He said that the news unit has around 100 people running the daily responsibilities of news bulletins and of them only three are permanent while the rest are casual assignees.
“It is for the first time during the last two decades that such situation has arisen. We received initial signals of shifting news unit to Delhi when two years ago the present regional news unit head, M A Tantray sacked nine copyists and news monitors who were working with news unit since 1993, without any reason. Later, two program narrators were also shown the door,” the staffers said.
They alleged that the unit head also decreased the remuneration for news readers other than Urdu and Kashmiri languages, like Pahari, Gojri and Balti from Rs 1600 to Rs 1100 “without any formal notice in this regard”.
“They have been repeatedly demanding that they be shown a notice if it is genuine, but till date he (unit head) has not. Now they have decided to boycott their duties from March 1,” they said.
Tantray, however, told Kashmir Reader that there was no plan to shift the news unit to New Delhi. “These are just rumours. There is no plan like that,” he said.
He said that there has been some delay in release of funds from New Delhi leading to delay in payments to casual assignees.
“We wrote many times to higher officials in Delhi but we got cold response from them. We have now doubled our efforts for early release of their remuneration. Whatever is upto me as a head, I am doing that and rest can be explained by the higher officials in Delhi why there has been so much of delay,” he said.
About sacking of nine casual employees, he said, “During militancy there was liberal funding from New Delhi and disproportionate staff was hired here. Now we are relieving the extra staff.”