Srinagar: The government’s job announcement for Kashmiri Pandits, wherein it has created above one thousand posts in various public departments, has caused strong resentment in Kashmir. Political leaders and civil society members say that while low-rung jobs in police are kept reserved for Kashmiri Muslims, Pandits are being given comfortable, creamy jobs in government departments.
The Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board (SSB) has advertised 1,140 posts under the special Prime Minister’s package for migrated Kashmiri Pandits of Jammu and Kashmir. Out of this number, 127 posts are of junior engineers, and others are in departments of Education, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Water and Power Supply.
“If Kashmiris have to find jobs, it is only the police department for them,” said a group of engineers protesting in Srinagar against the announcement of engineering jobs to Pandits. “When we ask them to advertise posts for us, they tell us that there is job scarcity. Now how come there are jobs for the Pandits? If they have to give jobs to Pandits, give them in the police, as SPOs and constables. Or are the creamy jobs reserved only for Pandits? They have the same degrees as we do.”
Additional general secretary of the National Conference, Mustafa Kamal, said it has been the hallmark of Government of India (GOI) to relegate Kashmiri Muslims to low-grade jobs.
“There is a clear bias when it comes to jobs. The Kashmiri Muslims have been treated as second-class citizens vis a vis Kashmiri Pandits,” Kamal said.
“The recently announced jobs by the government are unjustified. We are suffering on account of such a bias for quite long. Kashmiri Pandits, who form two percent of the population, can’t be given what they do not deserve while the 70 percent of Muslims have to be satisfied with low-grade jobs such as SPOs and so on,” Kamal said.
He said that Kashmiri Pandits were hiding behind the pretence that they are suffering, while the truth is that 30,000 Kashmiri Pandits are running major businesses in Kashmir.
“The Pandits have been given the cake while Muslims have to be satisfied with crumbs,” Kamal said.
The NC leader said the GOI has been providing high-end jobs to Pandits since decades.
“This policy was covert and now it has become overt,” Kamal said. “In the initial years, after their engineered exodus from Kashmir, more than 30,000 Pandits were given central governments jobs in Jammu, which even agitated the Dogras, the Sikhs, and the Muslims of Jammu region.”
In the past decade, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has emerged as the major source of employment for youth of Kashmir. In the year 2009, 6,000 personnel were recruited in the police department, taking its total strength to around 85,000. At the same time, 20,000 Special Police Officers (SPOs) were working in the department. In January 2017, the government told the legislative assembly that 3,836 candidates were recruited under different cadres in the police during the years 2015 and 2016.
In 2016-2017, the police recruited 10,000 SPOs. Another recruitment process is on to recruit 6,000 more personnel in the police force, which includes 500 sub-inspectors. The bulk of the SPOs and constables will be inducted from Kashmir region.
Last month, the state Director General of Police (DGP) said that recruitment of youth in Jammu and Kashmir Police will be of great help in facing the challenge of militancy.
Shakeel Qalandar, who heads the civil society group ‘Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS)’, complained against the discrimination of providing the small number of Kashmiri Pandits with a large chunk of government jobs.
“The government has reserved six-thousand jobs for the Pandits. It is a huge number, if you compare it to their population,” Qalandar said.
He said both the GOI and the state government continue with the policy of discrimination against Muslims and other religious groups of the state.
Qalandar said that jobs to Pandits have been provided on the condition that they return to Kashmir, but they never do.
“Former prime minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 1800-crore rehabilitation package for Pandits during his rule. The second step was providing money to Pandits to renovate or build their houses, so that they could move back to their native places. The latest step is to provide them with these jobs,” Qalandar said. “But they took the jobs only; they never returned to Kashmir. Even now, if so much as a small stone is hurled, the Pandits who are employed here take out processions that they wish to migrate to Jammu. Their return has been a complete failure.”
According to the new plan, Qalandar said, the GOI will bear the salary bills of Pandits employed under the migrant rehabilitation package for a period of four years. “After four years, the salary has to be paid from the state coffers. As not a single family has returned, providing jobs to Pandits again makes no sense. This whole policy is a failure,” Qalandar said.
He said that the present dispensation in New Delhi has gone to such extent of providing benefits to Kashmiri Pandits that they have kept the budget for them open-ended. “This means Pandits can utilise as much benefits as they can,” he said.