AN OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR
By: Mushtaq Hurra
With humble submission I would like to bring to your kind notice the plight of SSA teachers. Please spare some time out of your busy schedule to go through these lines.
The sudden culmination of political dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir on the 19th of last month, raised down the castles of ministers and their colleagues but common masses were anticipating the development to be as the proverbial ‘blessing in disguise’ for them. Political regimes are often obsessed with personal and selfish interests but apolitical rule is often expected to be selfless and sincere. Since the breakup of BJP-PDP led government in the turmoil hit state, people got rid of red-tapism and corruption to a greater extent. Your Excellency has taken some extraordinary decisions which political regimes can't dare to think about. And such moves have brought pleasant changes in the administrative machinery of our state. Work culture is growing in offices, attendence of employees has improved by manifolds with the introduction of biometric attendance, sense of accountability is seen emerging in public servants and the recruitment process has been expedited with a transparent mechanism.
But a particular teaching community known as SSA teachers, are yet to see the resolution of their genuine and legitimate demands. Time and again, we, the SSA teachers have been betrayed by the people at the helm of affairs. We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is very obnoxious and unpleasant for us to hit the roads for our legal rights which consequently leads to the closure of our educational institutions. This path of Confrontation is sure to jeopardize our future and our recognition as a nation. The rigid and implacable stand of authorities has sent shockwaves among this teaching fraternity. The denial of their legitimate rights has subjected them to dejection and alienation.
In my view, the last coalition government resorted to adamant and biased attitude which aggravated our miseries and plight. Their bizarre and cunning tactic of committee formation put our case into the cold chamber. And with the help of some pseudo jurnos, hatched a conspiracy against us otherwise there is no such formal order from any quarter to deprive us from the benefits of seventh pay commission. On the eve of Eidul-Fitre , the then Chief minister of our state Miss Mehbooba Mufti had sought a month’s time to resolve our issue amicably which had cemented our hopes but the culmination of the government buried all those hopes.
The last political regime of our state, left no stone unturned to defame us. Sometimes, they called us inefficient to write an essay on cow, sometimes, they labeled us as the employees of Noor society and sometimes, they marked us as contractual teachers. If, according to their narrative, we are the contractual teachers, then which law of Constitution or which section of CSR rules entitles us to have service books. We are at par with other state employees. Our formal orders from our respective directorates of school education Kashmir and Jammu, our service books and other credentials stand testimony to the fact that we are the regular state employees. we have been working in the department for the last 16 years, we have received 6th pay commission benefits alongside other state employees, we have been receiving annual increments and other perks like DA hikes on regular basis.
There is no scope of doubt or apprehension in case of our legitimacy and genuineness as state employees. We have not been appointed by any society neither we are the contractual employees. Our formal orders for our directorate declares us as general teachers. There is no nomenclature like RRT or SSA teacher, in our appointment orders, which only reads us as general line teachers.
If the phrases like "Noor society" or "contractual teachers" are proven in any of our service particulars or in the notifications published in Newspapers at the time of our preliminary appointment as Ret , then we will apologize to our nation publicly and will seek criminal proceedings to be initiated against us for playing with the future of our children and society. And, if, our case is found unlawful or unfair, then we will not seek anything like seventh pay commission benefits or the de-linking of our salaries from MHRD. Even, we won't hesitate to step down on moral grounds.
The contribution of SSA teachers is visible to one and all. We have injected a new lease of life into the half-dead and defunct elementary educational system of our state.SSA teachers are dispensing their duties with utmost honesty and dedication. Almost 90% SSA teachers are postgraduates, B.eds, M.eds even there is a good number of M.phil and P.hd scholars as well, thus negative the perception of some pseudo intellectuals who portray a different picture of this teaching community.
The scheme lured many qualified and meritorious people, as the future was promised bright and prosperous after the probationary period of five years which till last April 2018 was not seen with any suspicion or apprehension but the last two months or so have been very traumatizing and painful for SSA teachers. The denial of pay commission benefits is not a mere denial of money but a humiliation of unprecedented magnitude.SSA teachers are maltreated in offices and at public gatherings. The deprivation of seventh pay commission benefits to this particular teaching community has resulted in class-war among the teachers with many enjoying the full benefits and incentives while others having the same credentials are craving for it.
It pains us to lock our schools and hurts us to come out on roads. It disheartens us to see our own children being denied education. We can't afford to remain educationally backward. But who to blame for the mess? Who shall be held responsible for this tumultuous situation? Poor teachers have been made scapegoats. Everyone, from civil society to administrative hierarchy blames teachers for degraded educational standards in our schools. But no one is able to see the things through a judicious perspective. The attitude of authorities is sure to hit our educational standards very badly.
We hope, after scrutinizing our service records, your Excellency will surely come to realize the biased approach towards us that was adopted by the previous government. After, your Excellency, took over the reigns of the state, we were anticipating a speedy redressal of our genuine issues and demands. But, ironically, a month has passed, and the things have gone from bad to worse. There is no end to our miseries rather our plight has aggravated. We have once again choose the path of Confrontation. Things may uglier if our demands are not fulfilled in the near future. We are left with no option except to lock our schools out.Your excellency can imagine the consequences of such drastic steps.
So, I, on behalf of 41,000 SSA teachers, request your Excellency to resolve our issue without any further delay. Step motherly treatment with SSA teachers is sure to degrade our already poor educational standards because the deprivation of seventh pay commission benefits, will leave these teachers uninterested to carry out their professional duties.
The writer teaches at Middle school Poshwari, Zone Hajin.