Government employees form a small but a significant chunk of the people arrested by the J&K Government over the past month. The government has prepared a list of more than a three hundred employees who have allegedly participated in the Azadi protests in Kashmir. They are being arrested and booked under Public Safety Act.
Sources in the police said that the five of the booked employees are of gazetted cadre, one of them from the University of Kashmir. More than forty employees alone are from the Department of Education and the others from Department of Agriculture, Srinagar Municipality, Urban Local bodies etc.
The lists of the accused employees have been prepared with the help of the various security agencies in Kashmir and has been forwarded to respective District Magistrates for action under law. In August, District Magistrate Baramulla issued an order directing the district heads of the various departments to initiate action under rules against their employees involved in the protests. The order also included the list of the accused employees.
“Enclosed list of some Government employees working in your department are involved in anti-national activities of instigating violence and leading anti-national processions against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. These employees have specifically figured in various criminal cases registered in different police stations of Baramulla district. The output of the departmental action may be furnished within a week’s time for any further necessary action as per law at this end,” the order read.
Over the past month, the state government in an unprecedented crackdown has arrested more than 7000 people and registered around 2300 FIRs. Most of these arrests – around 4000 – have been made in South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam, which continue to spearhead the ongoing unrest.
The arrests are mainly made during night-time raids. The arrests also include entire separatist leadership except the hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani who has been put under house arrest.
However, the burgeoning government employee component in the arrests has come as a surprise.
“Though we have prepared a list of more than 300 employees who have either participated in the protests, delivered a motivational speech or instigated them, we are filing charges against them depending on the quantum of their involvement,” said a police officer. “Direct instigation of the protests will be slapped with Public Safety Act”.
Those booked under PSA will face six month jail terms without a trial.
However, Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) has decided to oppose the employee arrests. “We will soon call a meeting to chart a future course of action. We won’t take the arrests lying down,” EJAC president Abdul Qayoom Wani said. “We don’t believe employees are involved. It is a harassment by security agencies”.
Another employee leader, however, said that it was possible for some employees to have participated in the protests. “Employees are a part of the society. They can’t isolate themselves from what is going on in the state without incurring the wrath of the people,” the leader said on the condition of anonymity.”So, their participation may be a tactic to save themselves and their family”.