‘Government sidelining us; no graduates shortlisted for social welfare jobs’
Srinagar: Graduates in Social Work from Kashmir University on Saturday staged a silent sit in to protest the “apathy of concerned government officials towards them”. The graduates alleged that several government departments didn’t recognise their course.
Protesters threatened a hunger strike and other desperate measures if their demands were not immediately met.
The protesters, who had assembled inside Pratab-Park in Lal Chowk, carried placards some of which read ‘nepotism ruined our career, we want justice, don’t mix politics with education and employment’.
The protesters said that Kashmir University started the Social Work Graduate course in 2003 and fourteen batches so students have got the degree since. The candidates are not eligible for “relevant positions” in government as the course is not recognized by various state departments.
Adil Farooq, a protester from Anantnag, said that social work degree holders are professionally trained to engage with social issues but the Social Welfare Department was “sidelining” the graduates in various welfare schemes launched from time to time.
A female protester said that the department had issued advertisement to fill the positions of protection officers, social workers, and counsellors in 2016 where the “department gave preference to people not suitable for those jobs”. She said, “The irony was that no candidate with a degree in social work was shortlisted for the interview. Instead, candidates from academic background in Physics, Biology and Zoology were shortlisted,” she said.
Protesters demanded that the PG course in Social Work (MSW) should be made eligibility for the posts of social workers, protection officers, and counsellors and mental health workers. “In other states of India, professional social work degree holders are given preference for these kinds of jobs because they are the ones who are trained professionally. In our state we are being ignored,” Sabahat Bashir, another protester, said.
Sabahat said that she got her degree in 2014 and has since been unemployed because of the “apathy” of the department. “Social issues in Kashmir are increasing and people who have been selected (for the jobs) cannot deal with (issues) unrelated to their academic background,” she said.
Another protester Toibah Rashid said that many government departments rejected their degree certificates saying the course was not recognized. “First Kashmir University introduced this degree and now IGNU and Central University of Jammu is also offer the same degree. We appeal government to either stop offering it or do justice with us,” Toibah said. ““We will be compelled to take extreme measures if our demands are not met. We cannot remain silent on such issues.”