SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government’s recent move to restrict its over half a million employees from participating in demonstrations or strikes in support of their demands has drawn criticism from opposition parties.

Former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti called it a “dictatorial mindset” on Twitter, stating, “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 & disciplinary action is outrageous.”

National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah expressed support for the employees, saying, “I think this is injustice against them. My party stands with them, and we appeal to the government to give them what is their basic right.” He added, “If those who run the government do not work, then how will the government function? I appeal to the Lieutenant Governor to address the employees’ difficulties.”

Peoples Conference (PC) chairperson Sajjad Lone told reporters in north Kashmir’s Kupwara town that the administration has made the J&K as it’s testing laboratory. “The order that employees can’t hold protests for their rights is brazen, which is nowhere applicable in our nation. The administration has made J&K a testing laboratory,” he said.

CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami also condemned the government order. “The order contravenes the ILO conventions to which India is a party. Government employees only stage demonstrations and rallies when their legitimate and just demands are not fulfilled. The directive is yet another assault on the employees’ and workers’ constitutional rights,” he wrote on the microblogging site ‘X’.

An official memo dated November 3, signed by Rohit Sharma, additional secretary to the J&K government (General Administration Department), warned government employees about the consequences of participating in demonstrations or strikes. The memo cited Rule 20 (ii) of the J&K Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1971, which prohibits government employees from engaging in or supporting strikes related to their service or the service of others. It emphasized that violations of this rule would lead to consequences.

This essentially means that these rules were already in the rule book even when
Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti were the Chief Ministers.

The memo urged administrative secretaries to instruct employees in their respective departments to refrain from participating in such demonstrations and strikes, emphasizing that such actions constituted serious indiscipline and misconduct. It also called on departments to take strict disciplinary action against employees involved in organizing such activities.

Earlier in the year, the J&K government had issued guidelines prohibiting employees from criticising government actions and policies on social media. Violations of these guidelines could result in disciplinary action. The guidelines prohibited government employees from discussing or criticizing government policies on social media and participating in political or divisive discussions.


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