The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday sacked two university teachers, a civil servant married to a former militant commander, and the son of the PoK-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin for alleged “anti-national” activities.
However, appearing to use different yardsticks for different people, the Centre reinstated to a senior position a high-profile bureaucrat turned politician who had been jailed after allegedly calling for azadi but later recanted and became an ardent supporter of the Centre’s policies.
Shah Faesal, the lone IAS topper from Kashmir whose return to the fold may be construed as a propaganda victory for the government, has been appointed deputy secretary in the Union tourism department. He had earlier been posted with the Jammu and Kashmir government when he quit in 2019, citing “intolerance”.
The four people sacked are Muheet Bhat and Majid Hussain Qadri, scientist and senior assistant professor, respectively, at Kashmir University, Assabah Arjumand Khan, a 2011-batch Kashmir Administrative Services officer, and Syed Ahmad Mueed, IT manager with the state-run Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute.Assabah seems to have been targeted because she is the wife of former militant commander Bitta Karatey, who is in NIA custody and faces charges of killing Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.
Mueed is Salahuddin’s son.The government has provided a long list of charges against the four but the dismissal orders offered no evidence. Dozens of “anti-national” employees have been sacked over the past few months without any enquiries.
Muheet, former president of the Kashmir University Teachers Association, said the allegations against him were baseless.“You can call me everything but not anti-national. I have never participated in any political activity. You check my timeline (on social media), you will never find me even forwarding a political or religious MMS,” Muheet told The Telegraph.
“But as president of KUTA, I spoke against corrupt practices in the university. May be some people did not like that.”A statement issued by government agencies through informal channels accused Muheet of propagating a “secessionist terrorist” agenda at the university and radicalising students to advance Pakistan’s agenda.It said Qadri had a long history of association with terror outfits including the Lashkar-e-Toiba.Assabah, the statement said, has been sacked for providing false information while applying for a passport, ferrying money for terror activities and having links with people on the payroll of Pakistani spy agency ISI. Mueed has been accused of a role in three terror attacks at his office complex in Pampore.Some of their acquaintances asked why they had not been arrested all these years if the charges were true.Faesal, a celebrity in the Valley, had resigned from the civil service in January 2019 to join the pro-India political camp but his resignation was never accepted. After the August 5, 2019, dilution of Article 370, he began championing Kashmiris’ “right to self determination” and was arrested.He was released in June 2020.
After almost two years in the wilderness, he made a statement in April this year saying “my idealism had let me down” and that “life would give me another chance”, construed as hints about a return to government service.Faesal has often shared speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah on his Twitter handle.The dismissals have caused anger in the Valley but few have spoken out, apparently for fear of being hounded.
“Every citizen of India has his or her own rights. A son cannot be held responsible for his father or (a) wife for her husband or a father for his son,” People’s Conference president Sajad Lone, believed to be close to the BJP, tweeted.“Sad -- that kinship is used as a justification to sack people. This simply is not good. In all humility I register my disagreement.”