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Congress, NC, PDP, CPI(M) slam J&K admin for warning employees against protests

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Srinagar: The Congress, National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) and CPI(M) criticised the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday for warning its employees against staging protests, describing the move as an attempt to “crush every voice of dissent” in the Union Territory.

The Lieutenant Governor-led administration warned the employees on Friday against going ahead with their proposed agitation, saying such acts will attract disciplinary action.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1971 make it clear that no government employee shall resort to or, in any way, abet any form of strike in connection with any matter pertaining to his/her service or the service of any other government employee.

“The aforesaid provision of law is not merely declaratory in nature and shall definitely entail consequences in the event of any such employee found immersive in such acts,” the order said.

Reacting to the development, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) senior vice-president and media in-charge Ravinder Sharma said, “The administration under the central government wants to crush every voice of dissent, which is very dangerous, anti-employees and anti-people.”

He said the employees have a fundamental right to protest against the failure of the administration to address their genuine issues.

“The Congress fully defends and supports the democratic and fundamental rights of every citizen, including the employees, and demands immediate withdrawal of the order,” Sharma said, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Union Territory administration of adopting a “dictatorial attitude” against the employees.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order warning its employees of disciplinary action if they resort to demonstrations and strikes is “injustice”, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said on Saturday.

Saying that the National Conference (NC) stands with the government employees, Abdullah urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to resolve their issues.

“I think this is injustice against them. The NC stands with them and we appeal to the government to give them what is their basic right.

“If those who run the government don’t work then how will the government function? I appeal to the LG to see to it and try to get rid of the difficulties of the employees,” Abdullah told reporters here.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti described the government order warning employees of disciplinary action if they resort to demonstrations and strikes to press for their demands as “outrageous”, and said it reeks of a dictatorial mindset.

“LG admin’s blanket ban on peaceful protests by government employees reeks of a dictatorial mindset. Stifling voices of reason in a democracy is unacceptable. Threatening them with dire consequences and disciplinary action is outrageous,” Mufti said on X.

NC’s provincial secretary Sheikh Bashir Ahmad said the order makes it clear that nobody is allowed to speak in Jammu and Kashmir.

“An employee is governed by rules, but he has every right to defend any injustice against him…. After August 05, 2019 (when the BJP-led Centre abrogated the provisions of Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into Union territories), Jammu and Kashmir was virtually turned into a prison for more than a year. So what can be expected from this administration?” he asked.

The NC leader claimed that the current situation is such that even political activists are hesitant to speak, fearing imprisonment.

“Recently, former MP Sheikh Abdul Rehman had to spend a night at a police station to stop some activists from holding demonstrations against the Gaza-Israel war. What type of democracy is this?” he asked, adding, “You are free in Jammu and Kashmir with your mouth locked and hands and legs tied.”

Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami said the order contravenes the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions to which India is a party.

“Government employees only stage demonstrations or take out rallies when their legitimate and just demands are not fulfilled. The directive is yet another assault on the employees’ and workers’ constitutional rights,” he said.

Asserting that the Left party will resist any attempt to curb the legitimate rights of the working class, Tarigami alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has nothing to offer to its employees, especially the daily-wagers and scheme workers who have not received their salaries for months.

“It has no time to address their genuine issues and instead, it wants to curb their voice,” he said.

Pertinently, the Jammu wing of the Joint Action Employees Forum (JAEF) decided to suspend their protest on Saturday after a meeting with Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar Friday night and requested its Kashmir counterpart to follow suit.

On October 20, Jammu and Kashmir government employees had threatened to launch an agitation to press their various demands and said that there will be simultaneous protests in Jammu and Srinagar on November 04.

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