“This is sheer injustice,” say sacked JK govt employees accused of ‘anti-national’ links

Sacked JK government employee Raziyah Sultan is shocked at her termination | Picture: NDTV

After the government in Jammu and Kashmir terminated 11 of its employees on July 9 accusing them of ‘anti-national’ activities, the order has left the sacked employees shocked. The employees are now searching for ways to fight their termination order. 

Auqib Javeed | TwoCircles.net 

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SRINAGAR – Raziyah Sultan, in her late forties, was shocked to learn that her ten years of government service in the Jammu and Kashmir Education Department has been terminated. She is yet to come to terms that she has been declared “ant-national.” 

Sultan, a resident of South Kashmir’ Anantnag district was sacked by the Jammu and Kashmir administration on July 9 along with 11 other government employees, for allegedly passing on information to militants and extending logistic support.

The government terminated the Sultan and 11 others more than 20 years after they were recruited without an inquiry or a chance to explain their positions.

Their services were terminated under Article 311(2)(c) of the Constitution, under which no inquiry is held. The action was taken following a recommendation by a designated committee in the Union Territory for looking into such cases.

“Ye sarasar zulm hai (This is sheer injustice),” Sultan told TwoCircles.net, asking, “Why was not an anti-national for last twenty years?” 

Sultan denied charges of being involved in an activity that is prejudicial to the state. Her father Mohammad Sultan Bhat, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami, a socio-religious organization, was kidnapped and subsequently killed by unknown gunmen in 1996. Bhat had contested 1987 elections as a candidate of the Muslim United Front (MUF), which was a conglomeration of various parties and groups.

In 2000, she got a job on compassionate grounds after the due process of the police and security verification was followed by the government. 

“It is usually the case in such appointments,” she said. 

On July 9, the government order said, “Lt Governor is satisfied under sub-clause (c) of the proviso to Clause (2) of Article 311 of the constitution of India that in the interest of the security of the state, it’s not expedient to hold an inquiry in case of Ms Razyah Sultan headteacher in government Middle School Khiram, Anantnag”.

“Accordingly, the Lieutenant Governor hereby dismisses Ms Razyah Sultan from service with immediate effect,” said the order.

Sultan said she was coming back home from school when she received a call from the Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) office that her services had been terminated. 

“It was shocking for me and my family. The more shocking was the media trial in which they claimed I was associated with Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM),” she said. 

DeM is a banned all-woman outfit that advocates Kashmir’s liberation from India and is headed by Aasiya Andrabi—who is under detention along with her two aides in New Delhi’s Tihar jail. 

“This is baseless and the charges are flimsy,” Sultan said.

She is now looking forward to approaching the court to challenge her termination.

In April, the government created a Special Task Force (STF) to identify and scrutinize the government employees involved in anti-national activities. 

On May 1, a government teacher Idrees Jan of North Kashmir’s Kupwara became the first to be dismissed under clause 2 of the article the government says has been invoked “in the interest of the security of the state.”

Two other employees Dr Abdul Bari Naik, a professor at a government-run college and Nazir Ahmad Wani, a middle-rung officer in J&K’s revenue department were also terminated from the services.

Political parties in the valley term the dismissals of government employees ‘arbitrary and unjust’.

“GOI continues disempowering people of J&K in garb of pseudo nationalism by trampling the constitution that ought to be upheld. Abrupt dismissal of 11 gov employees on flimsy grounds is criminal. All policy decisions vis a vis J&K are taken with the sole objective of punishing Kashmiris,” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said.

The other regional party National Conference asked the administration to call an end to the Special Task Force (STF), saying the measure will push the people towards alienation.

“We are living through the worst-ever public health catastrophe in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government should have focused on boosting the Covid care rather than terminating employees in an elusive manner where the terminated cannot even resort to legal recourse to protect their rights,” National Conference said in a statement.

Forty-year-old Sakeena Akthar of Anantnag had never thought that she would be fired from job. She told TwoCircles.net that she has given her everything to “teach the children of different villages in Valley.”

Akthar was appointed under the Rehbar-e-Taleem (RT) scheme in the year 2000.

“For over five years I worked for paltry Rs 1500 and as a teacher in far-flung areas of the district. During the appointment, my verification was cleared by Jammu and Kashmir Police and since then everything was going fine, but the sudden order of my termination has left me shell shocked,” she told TwoCircles.net

The government order terminating Akther reads, “Whereas the Lieutenant Governor is satisfied after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and on the basis of the information available that the activism, of Ms Sakeena Akhtar, teacher in Government Primary, School, K-Gojran Khiram, Anantnag W/o, Masood Ahmad Bhat R/o Khiram Srigufwara, District Anantnag are such as to warrant her dismissal from service;

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor is satisfied under sub-clause (c) of the proviso to clans, (2) of Art. 311 of the Constitution of India that in the interest of the security of the State, it is not expedient to hold an inquiry in the case of Ms Sakeen Akhter, Teacher in Government Primary School. Accordingly, the Lieutenant Governor hereby dismisses Ms Sakeena Akther, in the government K-Gojran Khiram, Anantnag, from service, with immediate effect,” the order added.

Akhtar, however, said that neither her family had produced any militant nor is she associated with any political organization.

“I failed to understand why I was sacked after 19 years of service? Why was I given police clearance if I had an association with any separatist party,” she told TwoCircles.net.

Like Sultan, Akthar and Idress, sources told TwoCircles.net that the government is likely to terminate the service of more government employees. As per the government, this is being reportedly done to “weed out” the people who had any links with anti-national elements.

For the terminated employees, they are under shock and in search of ways to contest their termination order.