The people of Kashmir Valley again complain of regional discrimination with regard to the passage of bill in the J and K state assembly, which allows 8 per cent job reservation to Schedule Caste members. An analysis by our Correspondent in the state, Amin Masoodi
Amid strikes in Kashmir valley, protests and clashes and uproarious scenes in the state legislative assembly, the controversial ‘Inter-district recruitment bill’ banning the inter-district recruitment was passed at the concluding assembly session on April 9.
The job recruitment policy of the state government largely perceived to be the most sensitive issue confronting the state dominated the proceedings of current year’s assembly sessions, generated heated debates and even triggered verbal clashes among members at the floor of house through out the assembly sessions.
Even the much hyped up bill saw a divide between the NC led coalition government’s partner Congress leaders as representatives of the party from Kashmir supported the bill and those from Jammu opposed it.
People at large feel that a sizeable number of government jobs meant of reserved category (SC) would go to Jammu thereby creating an unequal representation for the region in government jobs.
Has the bill really addressed the demand of people of Kashmir region? To the dismay of a good chunk of population in Kashmir, the bill was passed with an amendment permitting Schedule Caste (SC) members’ eight per cent reservation in government jobs in all ten districts of Kashmir valley since there is not even a single SC member in the valley.
People at large feel that a sizeable number of government jobs meant of reserved category (SC) would go to Jammu thereby creating an unequal representation for the region in government jobs. The bill had earlier generated growing anger among people of Hindu-dominated Jammu regions, as they largely believed that it would affect the job opportunities of lower caste people of the region.
In a way, the bill is perceived to have further renewed the feeling of regional discrimination amongst people of Kashmir who feel a let down by the government yet again.
There is a general feeling in Valley that the bill passed in the state assembly with an amendment has not only left the problem un-addressed but also formulated it into a law, which hardly any government would dare to undo in future.
There is a general feeling in Valley that the bill passed in the state assembly with an amendment has not only left the problem un-addressed but also formulated it into a law, which hardly any government would dare to undo in future. The bill, which became a prestige point for the government was largely pursued as a must-win contest between the people and politicians of Kashmir versus Jammu region. The demand in favour of the bill and in its opposition triggered strikes, protests and clashes across the state.
“The recruitment bill was amended to give arbitrary access to the schedule castes to hundreds of vacancies in different departments in Kashmir valley. It has further added to the already existing feeling of regional discrimination amongst Kashmiris by the successive governments. The bill has only tried to create an illusion of resolving the problem but it has made little difference on the ground and the Valley people again feel a let down by the government,” observed, a senior officer wishing not to be named.
“The bill passed with amendment though allows reservation to SC candidates but still a good number of candidates who were deprived of jobs in their own districts must have heaved a sigh of relief.
While as most of the MLA’s of Kashmir region remained adamant till the last moment to pass the bill ensuring a blanket ban on inter-district recruitment, most of the Jammu region representatives in the government if at all wanted to see the bill passed it was only with some amendments to ensure that reserved categories of the region get benefited.
However the member legislative council Kupwara, the district from where the movement against inter-district recruitment actually gathered momentum viewed that the bill would provide a sigh of relief to good number of candidate deprived of jobs in their own districts.
“The bill passed with amendment though allows reservation to SC candidates but still a good number of candidates who were deprived of jobs in their own districts must have heaved a sigh of relief. The movement against the inter district recruitment started from Kupwara as educated jobless youth of the frontier district were the main causality of the government recruitment policy. National Conference (NC) has a track record of bad governance and regional discrimination especially towards Kashmir region and this made the passage of bill really very difficult,” commented Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah MLC Kupwara, one among other four MLA’s of the constituency who spearheaded the movement led by Kupwara Bachao Committee (KBC) against the government recruitment policy.
Shah who travelled from Jammu to Kupwara to stage a peaceful dharna with hundreds of people at main chowk Kupwara to press the government concede to the demand thanked MLA’s and people of Kupwara for their full support. Jammu also observed a general strike to press the government not to move the bill banning the inter district recruitment.
The bill though puts an embargo on the inter district recruitment restricting the candidates of a district to apply for government jobs in their home district only but it is widely viewed in Kashmir that the amendment in the bill is rather a political response to an emerging disgust against the alleged theft of their jobs by the people from other parts of the state.
Alleged disproportionate representation in administration is yet another tangible reason of anger brewing among Valleyites since years and this is largely viewed as regional discrimination by the successive governments. A small number of Muslims assume the top posts in administration with bleak chances of any of Muslim officers getting to become a state police chief or chief secretary at least in the near future.
According to an estimate, the percentage of majority population (Muslim employees) in the state administration is 2.85 per cent as against 4.61 per cent for Hindus, 6.37 per cent for Sikhs and 4.85 per cent for Buddhists and Christians.
Like SC’s who live life in abject poverty conditions, a good chunk of population including Schedule Tribes and other backward classes live a life from hand to mouth at inaccessible areas in the Valley and should have been equally taken care of. Far from the eyes of administration and left to the mercy of Almighty God, these people are even deprived of basic facilities of life including water, electricity and roads.
By: Amin Masoodi