M A I N   N E W S

Contentious J&K bill passed
Bans inter-district recruitment
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

J&K Assembly watch and ward staff try to control the PDP members who were creating ruckus in the House in Jammu on Friday. Photo: Inderjeet Singh

Jammu, April 9
The contentious Bill, which makes it mandatory for the state government to recruit people from the same district where the posts exist, was passed by the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly today, the last day of the budget session, by a voice vote.

Once it becomes the law, people from one district will no longer be eligible for government jobs in other districts. All government vacancies will be filled up by people living in the same district.

The only exception will be the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, for whom eight per cent of government jobs in every district will be reserved. They will also be able to work in any district of their choice. The amendment to this effect was moved by the Panthers Party MLA, Harsh Dev Singh. The Gujjars and the Bakerwals, however, have been left out of the exemption.

The state has 22 districts in all, 10 each in Jammu & Kashmir and 2 in Ladakh. The total number of state government employees in the state is 4.5 lakh while the number of existing vacancies is placed at 13,319. The state has a population of 1.20 crore.

The official Bill, supported by the National Conference and the Congress, received support from the opposition PDP as well. But the PDP opposed the amendments. The BJP,however, called a Jammu bandh to protest against the controversial Bill, which it describes as divisive.

The official explanation for imposing restrictions is that due to insurgency, war and militancy , there has been uneven development of the state.

This has led to people from backward areas like Rajouri etc. falling back and failing to compete with people from Jammu and the valley. The new law, it is argued, will protect their interests.

The Bill was today passed by the Assembly after a brief discussion that lasted less than half an hour. In the afternoon the Legislative Council took 23 minutes to pass it.

The Bill has grey areas and an attempt was made to raise the issue of women who marry outside and settle in a different district. But the House deferred a discussion on this till the next session.

Soon after the Bill was passed with voice vote, PDP legislators went on the rampage, some of them uprooting microphones while others hurled chairs and scuffled with the Watch & Ward staff. Although no one was injured, there was free for all in the Assembly for nearly 20 minutes after the Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone announced the House adjourned.

PDP member Choudary Zulfikar Ali expressed his concern over ignoring Scheduled Tribes (STs) from the Bill. When Zulfikar was speaking, former Law Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh stood up and wanted to speak on this issue but the Speaker did not allow him as he had not sought permission from him. Irked at the decision, PDP members started shouting slogans even as the Speaker called for a voice vote amidst the pandemonium.

Talking to mediapersons outside the Assembly, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti described the action of the Speaker as undemocratic. Today in the Assembly, she said, was a black day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, apparently irked over the exemption allowed to the Scheduled Castes.





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