Kaiser Majeed / Junaid Manzoor
Srinagar: A group of government servants sacked during the 2016 uprising demanded on Wednesday that they be reinstated as the courts have given them a clean chit in the cases slapped against them.
Holding a protest in Srinagar, the employees told Kashmir Reader that they were ‘arbitrarily’ terminated from service without any departmental inquiry being held against them. Most of them were on duty when they were arrested and later slapped with charges under the Public Safety Act (PSA), they said.
The employees said their termination orders were served to them in October 2016 while they were still behind bars.
Kashmir witnessed a mass uprising last year beginning after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. In the five-month-long shutdown that followed, more than 90 civilians were shot dead while over 15,000 people were injured. Apart from these, the government brought more than 700 PSA cases against pro-freedom leaders, activists and protesters to quell the protests.
The employees alleged that the government had terminated them from service without holding any departmental or formal enquiry. Most were on duty when they were arrested. Their termination orders were served to them while they were behind bars.
Bilal Ahmad Wani, 39, of Shopian’s Hirpora village, worked as an assistant store keeper at the Consumer and Public Affairs department and was on duty when the concerned Station House Officer called him to the police station. He was arrested and slapped with PSA on charges of instigating people and working for the Hurriyat Conference. He has two FIRs registered against him.
“I was in police custody for 11 days and later on they shifted me to Kathua jail, where I was jailed for six months. Finally, the PSA was quashed by the High Court this year,” he said.
Similarly, another employee, Mohammad Ramzan Nayak, 58, of Shopian’s Bapora village, was working as a mechanic at the department of Public Health engineering. He said that he was arrested when he was attending an official meeting in the office. He has too has two FIRs registered against him and was imprisoned for a month.
Nayak said all the charges against him are baseless and hold no ground. “I am nearing my retirement and at such an old age, I can’t look for another job. I have a family and with zero income, I am incapable of feeding them,” he said.
Along with the duo was Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh of Logripora, Sopore. He was working as a lab assistant at Government Higher Secondary School, Bomai, before he was arrested and slapped with the draconian PSA.
Sheikh said that he was lodged in the Bomai police station for 20 days and was later booked under the PSA and removed to sub-jail Kupwara. However, the court quashed his PSA only three-and-a-half months later.
“It is sheer injustice to us. We have our families to feed and nowhere to go. We request Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to withdraw all the charges levelled against us and reinstate us on humanitarian grounds,” all the employees said in unison and added, “We were made scapegoats by the government to make other employees resume their duties.”