J&K administrator brings rule to fire government workers if found “linked” to UAPA, accused PSA

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Srinagar: The administration of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has notified new rules under which employees can be dismissed if they or their family members are found to be “sympathetic” to those accused under the Human Rights Act. illegal activities (prevention) (UAPA) and public security. Law (PSA). These laws, say activists, are increasingly used to suppress dissent.

The new rules were notified just days after the J&K administration made mandatory vigilance authorization for civil servants who ask for passports. These rules could have a serious impact on the freedom of expression of six employees of the Lakh government of Jammu and Kashmir.

The rules were released by J&K’s Department of General Administration (GAD) on September 15, nearly a month after nearly two dozen J&K employees fired without fair investigation, evoking strong reactions in the Valley. Prior to that, in July, the J&K administration invoked Article 311 of the constitution to lay off 11 employees, including the daughter of a Jamaat-e-Islami activist and two sons of Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin, once more, allegedly without a fair investigation.

Demanding an overturn of the new rules, Kashmir-based political parties such as the National Conference and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and several activists called the decision “arbitrary” which would undermine the principles of democracy.

“The authoritarian order (goes) against the interest of the people. Instead of issuing such orders, the government must ensure that the rights of people and their livelihoods are protected, ”said Mr. Y. Tarigami, secretary general of CPI (M), said in a statement.

In the latest ordinance, the GAD noted that government employees are “bound to maintain absolute integrity, honesty and allegiance to the Union of India and its Constitution,” stressing that employees are bound by the Rules of Conduct for J&K Government Employees, 1971.

Earlier this year, the administration said several employees were apparently availing themselves of service-related benefits without obtaining the necessary security clearance, prompting a review of the process for all J&K employees.

The J&K administration has already changed the rules regarding the appointment of new employees on June 21. In accordance with the new order, “Instruction 2” was added to the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Instructions (Character and Background Check), 1997, making CID verification mandatory for government employees.

The CID, which works under the home department, was asked to screen employees for any contact with “representatives or nationals of a foreign country” or their “financial interests in other countries that make an individual potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation or pressure by a foreign government.

The new decree further requires ministries and investigative agencies to examine “the involvement of employees in any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, subversion, sedition / secession, facilitation of ‘foreign interference, incitement to violence or any other unconstitutional act’.

Whether employees, family members or people sharing a residential space with the employee are associated with “persons who attempt to commit or (are) involved in aiding, abetting or defending” any act against national security, then the government can terminate them from service.

According to the new decree, an employee is required to inform the administration of the involvement of his “immediate family” in any “subversive act, directly or indirectly”, likely to subject the individual (employee) to coercion, this which poses a serious security risk.

The administration, which is headed directly by New Delhi, also warned employees that their failure to report relatives or people who live with them and are “linked to any foreign government, associations, foreign nationals known to be directly or indirectly hostile to India’s national and security interests ”may invite punitive action.

Repression against freedom of expression

After the Union government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lowered Article 370 and downgraded the former state into two Union territories, global bodies such as the United Nations and political groups based in Kashmir have repeatedly reported the deterioration of freedom of speech and expression. in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since the decision of the Union government, more than 2,300 people have been booked at J&K in more than 1,200 cases, under the UAPA, and 954 people under the PSA, with about 40% of the inmates still languishing in the prisons.

Under the UAPA, an inmate can be kept in prison without charge for 180 days. According to Kashmir-based lawyers, the police are increasingly resorting to the arbitrary invocation of the UAPA.

The lawyers’ claims are also supported by the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau, which shows that the J&K police filed 255 cases in 2019 under the UAPA, compared to 60 annual cases until 2015 when the BJP came to power.

According to official data reviewed by Article 14, 96% of sedition cases filed in the last decade for criticizing political leaders and governments were recorded after Narendra Modi’s government came to power in 2014.

Activists and political parties in Kashmir allege that the administration of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who was brought to J&K in August last year, has increasingly resorted to arbitrary measures and the use of UAPA to restrict freedom of expression and “create an atmosphere of fear” in Union Territory.

Calling the rules an affront to the rights and privileges of employees, the National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah demanded their backtracking, saying they “undermine the perception of natural justice and basic human rights”.

“These ’emergency laws’ are pushed to hug the juggernaut around the necks of employees pushing them into a state of discouragement. How can employees work in a climate of suspicion? National Conference spokesman Imran Nabi said, adding that the rules blur the line between the executive and the judiciary.

Imran said the “cloud of suspicion” against employees “will seriously affect the work culture and, subsequently, administrative work. It is an act of gratuitous defamation by a government against its own weapons ”.

Tarigami of CPI (M) said there are laws to treat employees involved in “anti-national” or subversive activities.

“Denying anyone a passport on the basis of vigilance cannot substitute for a conviction in court. One of the most sacred principles of the justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. How can the government refuse a passport to an employee simply by registering a case out of vigilance? “

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