Discontent brews as J&K Govt decides to re-advertise jobs of ‘Rehbar’ employees

The protesting employees anticipate that if these jobs are sent to the JKSSB for re-advertising, there will be no vacancies for those currently employed in them

The Lieutenant Governor-led Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided to re-advertise Rehbar-e-Janglat, Rehbar-e-Zirat, and Rehbar-e-Khel posts through the J&K Services Selection Board (JKSSB), with extra weightage and age relaxation for people who hold these positions.

According to a correspondence to the Commissioner/Secretary to the Government, Forest Ecology and Environment Department, Undersecretary to the Government, the case of Rehbar-e-Janglat was referred to a Committee established by Government order (No. 294- JK(GAD) of 2020) dated February 27, 2020.

The committee has suggested that all the vacancies be re-advertised through JKSSB and that Rehbar-e-Janglat applicants be given additional weightage and age relaxation so that they can apply afresh against re-advertised posts through JKSSB. The Competent Authority has accepted the Committee’s recommendations, according to the government.

Similar communications have been made to appropriate authorities over Rehbar-e-Zirat and Rehbar-e-Khel, according to sources.

Affected employees resist, protest in Srinagar

The employees from Rehbar-e-Khel, Zirat, and Janglat protested the government’s decision to re-advertise these positions on Sunday at Srinagar’s Press Enclave, demanding that the order be revoked.

Hundreds of employees with placards, while chanting slogans, gathered outside Press Enclave on Residency Road to urge a reversal of the order.

According to the employees, the previous government started a program under which Rehbar-e-Janglat, Rehbar-e-Khel and Rehbar-e-Ziraat were appointed through a cabinet decision roughly four to five years ago.

“The staff hired under Rehbar-e-Janglat were paid Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 per month and were all postgraduates with a PhD in forestry,” a protestor said, adding that the government had agreed that their jobs would be regulated after five years.

“We were repeatedly informed that our jobs would be made permanent and that they would be regularized in August of this year,” he stated.

Another protestor said that the staff of Rehbar-e-Khel are all postgraduates and that many of those who had passed the NEET and SET exams were confident that they would acquire permanent positions after serving for seven years.

“It is an extremely terrible directive from the authorities that all positions be de-frozen and reported to JKSSB,” he continued.

The protestors predicted that if these jobs are sent to the JKSSB for re-advertising, there will be no vacancies for the people who are working in these positions.

“We are protesting, and under the democratic system, we will do everything possible to force the administration to reverse this policy,” the protestors resolved.

Political leaders also oppose the decision

Almost all the political parties in the union territory have opposed the new policy, except the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

On Sunday, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) criticised the LG administration’s decision, claiming that the undemocratic measure will exacerbate J&K’s employment situation.

JKNC State Spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar reacted angrily to the government’s decision, saying that the decision is a grave injustice to thousands of professionally trained youth who worked on a meagre salary with the hope of regularization after a five to seven-year period.

Former Chief Minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has also requested that the ‘absurd’ ruling be reversed, claiming that re-advertising the vacancies was a malicious move launched to promote non-residents’ claim on these posts.

J&K Peoples Conference Youth President Sheikh Mohammad Imran strongly condemned the administration’s decision to re-advertise these jobs, calling it totally wrong and unreasonable.

CPI(M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami expressed grave worry over the decision, saying that the government has failed to provide job opportunities since the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abolished.

“These jobs were provided in response to successive governments’ efforts to combat rising unemployment among technically qualified youth. These young people were hired on merit after a thorough recruitment process. The majority of them have now reached retirement age and are no longer able to compete in their fields with recent graduates,” he added.

Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari, the president of the J&K Apni Party, said that arbitrary directives like re-advertising Rehbar-e-Janglat, Khel, and Zirat posts call into doubt the legitimacy and mandate of consecutive elected administrations in Jammu and Kashmir, which was very concerning.

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