State of distrust

The J&K administration order on security threat posed by its employees is arbitrary and draconian, belies claim of normalcy.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s recent order aimed at the dismissal of government employees who apparently pose a security threat, is not just draconian in itself, it also contradicts claims by the top leadership of the country that “terrorism has ended” and the people of Kashmir are now fully integrated with the rest of the country. Under the order, a Special Task Force will engage with members of a Terror Monitoring Group to compile a list of employees to sack, and recommend these employees to a committee for dismissal. That this being done under existing Constitutional provisions — Article 311(2)(c) — does not make it any nobler. Article 311 of the Constitution lays out the conditions under which a government employee can be dismissed from service. While clause 2 provides that this shall be preceded by an inquiry in which the person will be given a reasonable opportunity to present his side of the story, sub section (c) provides that an inquiry can be waived by the President or the Governor. In other words, summary dismissal. Even accepting the argument that this is being done because of the security threat posed by such an employee, it is most arbitrary, and highly likely to be misused.

The security threat ground is troubling. The setting up of a STF seems to suggest that a number of government employees are terrorist sympathisers. What is the definition of security threat? If there are really so many bad apples, then the government has not told the nation of the scale of the problem in Kashmir. If the issue is that a section of employees is politically separatist-minded, ejecting them from government service may not solve the problem. Plus there is no guarantee that those who replace them would not have similar views. Is the administration going to turn into a thought police?

Through this order, the J&K administration has made an unwitting admission — the place has been dressed up with bonsai Assemblies in each district, namely directly elected District Development Councils, and the tulips are in full bloom, but the task of winning over the people remains. The more the government uses the stick to “discipline”, the less it is going to succeed in persuading people to think what it wants them to. It is not without reason that the most successful nation-states today are democracies. When people are free to hold a political view of their choice and have the freedom to express it, even when such views seem to go against the interests of the state, they make for better integrated citizens.

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