Several job aspirants protesting the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board’s (JKSSB) hiring of an earlier blacklisted company for the written examination were detained by the Jammu Police on Wednesday, officials said.
The officials gathered outside Dogra Chowk in the heart of Jammu city and were about to protest in violation of the ban orders when the police swung into action and recovered the light latti before arresting several of them, officials said.
The protesters raised slogans against the JKSSB for hiring APTECH Limited, which was blacklisted in 2019, to conduct computer tests.
A senior JKSSB official said there was no basis for the protest as the APTECH recruitment matter was “sub-judicial”.
However, he said the company was hired as per the guidelines of the central and JK government as it completed the three-year blacklisting period in May last year.
“When we choose a company to conduct the written exam, we use balance to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness in selection. We follow a procedure that is in line with the standards of major national-level recruiting agencies,” the official said.
With slogans like ‘APTECH go back’ and ‘we want justice’, the protesters said they were worried about their future as they were passing the age limit due to the administration’s failure to complete the recruitment process on time.
“They conduct an exam and then cancel it … how many times do we have to appear for the same exam,” said the protester.
In July last year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration, headed by Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, scrapped a select list of 1,200 police sub-inspectors, 1,300 junior engineers and 1,000 financial account assistants (FAAs) following allegations of paper leaks and malpractices.
The CBI, which is probing the sub-inspector recruitment scam after registering a case on a tip from the JK administration on August 3, has already filed charges against 24 people, including Yatin Yadav of Rewari and a BSF commandant. November 12, 2022.
“APTECH has been blacklisted in the past and there is no guarantee that it will not commit any wrongdoing in the future. What made the LG administration hire such a blacklisted company?’ asked the disgruntled woman.
A peaceful protest was also held at Press Enclave in Srinagar where many job aspirants raised slogans against APTECH and JKSSB.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, along with leaders of other political parties, condemned the use of force against job seekers.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of force and lathi charge against students and JKSSB candidates. “These young people exercised their democratic rights and protested against the latest decision to hire a blacklisted firm,” said Abdullah, the vice-president of the National Conference.
Addressing reporters in Shopian, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti leveled allegations against job aspirants in Jammu.
“Lots of unemployed youth are protesting in both Srinagar and Jammu. They were rent-seekers and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Is it their fault that they wanted to ask the BJP government why their future is at stake,” he said.
He asked, on what basis and on whose orders was the contract to conduct recruitment to the company blacklisted by other states.
“The laws have been changed to make sure they get the contract. Thus, the youth asked only this question, but they fell into the net, were caught. I demand the LG to take action against the officials involved in this,” said Mehbooba.
The youth work hard, prepare day and night for the exams, but then they are told that there were irregularities in the recruitment conducted by APTECH and the exam was cancelled, J and K former chief minister said.
“They have to start from scratch again. “They (the government) are pushing the future of the youth here into darkness,” he added.
People’s Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone also condemned the police action.
“We strongly condemn the use of force against students protesting against APTECH. The use of force on students shows how alienated the administration is. Who orders the young students to use force? Shame on you. You (you) probably have one-year-olds at home,” Lone wrote on Twitter.
Democratic Azad Party (DAP) leader and former J and K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad tweeted: “Disgusted to hear of violence against #JKSSB candidates in J and K who were peacefully protesting for their future. I strongly condemn such actions and call on the government to intervene to protect the rights of students without fear of harm!” Congress spokesperson Jahanzaib Sirwal, DAP chief spokesperson Salman Nizami and Apni Party youth wing state vice-president Rakiq Ahmed Khan also condemned the use of “brutal force” against the peaceful protesters.
“The company has been blacklisted in many states and fined by the Supreme Court. What could be better than a moment of frustration for the youth of J and K,” said Nizami.
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(This story was not edited by News18 staff and was published by a syndicated news outlet)