Job aspirants in Jammu and Kashmir staged protest on Wednesday against government decision to hire a ‘blacklisted’ company by the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) for conducting written examinations.
A large number of job aspirants were detained by police in Jammu’s Dogra Chowk area after they tried to staged massive march in violation of prohibitory orders.
The protesters assembled outside Dogra Chowk in the heart of the city and tried to take out a march but police swung into action and restored to lathi-charge and detained several youths, the officials said.
The protesters raised slogans against the JKSSB for hiring APTECH Limited, the company which had been blacklisted in 2019 for conduct of computer-based tests.
Similar demonstrations were staged in Doda, Bhaderwah, Rajouri and other parts of Jammu besides a massive protest also reported in Srinagar’s Press Enclave.
A senior official of the JKSSB told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), there was no justification for the protest as the matter with regard to the hiring of APTECH Company is “sub-judice”.
However, he said, the company was hired as per the central and J&K government guidelines as it has already completed the blacklisting period of three years in May last year.
“When we are selecting a company for conducting a written examination, we also employ checks and balances to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness in the selection. We are following a procedure which is matching the standards of major national level recruitment agencies,” the official said.
Chanting slogans like “APTECH go back” and “we want justice”, the protesters said they are concerned about their future as they are crossing the age limit due to the alleged failure of the administration to complete the recruitment process in time.
“They are conducting an examination and then cancelling it…how many times we have to appear for the same exam time and again,” a protester said.
In July last year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha cancelled the selected list of 1,200 police sub-inspectors, 1300 junior engineers and 1,000 finance account assistants (FAA) following allegations of paper leak and malpractices.
The CBI, which is investigating the sub-inspector recruitment scam after registering a case on August 3 on a reference from the J-K administration, had already filed a chargesheet against 24 persons including the mastermind, Yatin Yadav of Rewari, and a BSF commandant, on November 12, 2022.
“APTECH was blacklisted in the past and there is no guarantee it will not do any wrongdoing in future. What forced the LG administration to engage such a black-listed company?” asked a woman protester.
In Srinagar’s Press Enclave, scores of JKSSB job aspirants gathered to protest against the purported grant of a contract to APTECH Ltd for the conduct of various exams.
The protesters pointed out that APTECH has been involved in numerous scams in other parts of the country including in Rajasthan, Leh, Ambala, and others. “Many national papers have also highlighted these scams, nothing significant is being done to allay the apprehensions of the job aspirants,” they said.
The protesters demanded that the Lieutenant Governor administration should rise to the occasion and take necessary measures for the larger benefit of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah along with leaders of other political parties condemned the use of force against the job aspirants.
“I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the use of force and lathicharge against students and JKSSB aspirants. These youngsters were exercising their democratic right to protest against the recent decision to engage a blacklisted firm,” Abdullah, the National Conference vice president, said.
Democratic Azad Party (DAP) leader and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad tweeted, “It is disheartening to hear about the use of violence against #JKSSB aspirants in J and K who were peacefully protesting for their future. I strongly condemn such actions and urge the government to intervene to protect the rights of students without fear of harm!”—(KNO)