Aptech Row: Protesting job aspirants Lathicharged, Detained during Jammu road blockade
- Unemployed youth lathi-charged for raising voice against present regime: Mebooba Mufti
- Omar Abdullah seeks cancellation of purported contract to APTECH Ltd, Condemns ‘use of force & lathicharge’ against protestors
Scores of protesting job aspirants were detained as the police resorted to lathi-charge during attempts to block roads in Jammu on Wednesday.
Hundreds of young job aspirants were protesting against a backlisted agency engaged by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to conduct recruitment exams for government jobs.
The agency has been blacklisted by several states in the country and even the court had imposed a penalty on it for alleged fraud and manipulations in the recruitment.
Protests were being held simultaneously in Srinagar, demanding fair exams and a transparent recruitment process. The recruitment for government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir had been riddled with scams for the last few years and four recruitment lists were scrapped following allegations of corruption and paper leaks.
The protests were held after a massive online campaign against a blacklisted agency Aptech limited and Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB). The Board – JKSSB has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as another recruitment scam over the last few years.
Political leaders have strongly condemned police action against job aspirants. Last year after protests and allegations of corruption in recruitment, the Jammu and Kashmir administration scrapped the selection list of at least four recruitment exams last year.
The administration announced to hold fresh exams but the contract to conduct these exams was given to M/S Aptech Limited, a controversial agency that UP, Rajasthan, and Assam blacklisted
The Delhi High Court has even imposed a penalty of ₹ 10 lakh on Aptech for alleged malpractices in recruitment. In December Jammu and Kashmir High Court strongly indicated the administration for allotting a contract to a tainted agency.
The court said the decision to award the contract to M/s Aptech Limited) – a blacklisted agency – is malafide and a change of condition in the tender was intended to favour the private agency. “A blacklisted agency has been allowed to compete in the tendering process and the commercial interest has outweighed the public interest” the court had said.
A day after the judgement, a division bench of the High Court stayed its single bench judgment after the administration quickly challenged the order. The division bench allowed Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board to go ahead with exams but barred it from declaring results till further orders from the court.
The court had referred to the involvement M/s Aptech Limited in malpractices in recruitment exams in the power department in Uttar Pradesh; police recruitment in Rajasthan and Irrigation department in Assam. It was mentioned in a Delhi High Court order imposing a penalty of ₹ 10 lakh on the controversial agency for alleged malpractices.
“I completely agree with a view taken by Delhi High Court in a case titled M/s Aptech Limited, supra that organizations resorting to, or permitting malpractice at an institutional level should be kept at bay” reads the judgment by Justice Waseem Nargal.
The JKSSB is under the scanner and is facing multiple investigations by the CBI following allegations of malpractices in recruitment exams. Recruitment exams for Police, Junior engineers, Financial Account assistants, etc were canceled last year following protests over paper leaks and malpractices
The CBI has arrested over a dozen accused including a commandant of the Border Security Force for their alleged involvement in a police sub-inspector recruitment scam. According to CBI investigations, exam papers for Police sub-inspector posts were sold for ₹ 20 to 30 lakh.
1,200 candidates were selected for the post of police sub-inspectors; 1,300 as junior engineers and about 1,000 as Finance Account Assistants. After scrapping recruitment lists, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha announced fresh exams and promised a transparent and fair recruitment process.
Soon after fresh exams were announced, government’s decision to award contracts to a tainted agency to hold these exams delivered another setback to thousands of job aspirants. A petition was filed by some job aspirants challenging the decision of awarding the contract to M/s Aptech.
The single bench of the court had directed the government to constitute a panel headed by a retired High Court judge to probe the conduct JKSSB for “brazen irregularities/ illegalities in changing the terms/conditions of the tender and award contract to an agency which has previously facilitated malpractices in public examinations.
Meanwhile, People’s democratic party chief, Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir are being lathi-charged because they want to question the Bhartiya Janta party (BJP) government as to why their future is being ruined.
Speaking to reporters, the PDP president and former chief minister said that the unemployed youth of J&K who are protesting are being lathi-charged just because they want to question the current government.
She said that the youth want to question the government why their future is being ruined and they are being charged with batons, which I strongly condemn.
Aghast over the administration’s move of awarding contract to a blacklisted firm, Aptech, a Mumbai-based recruiting agency for conducting Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) exams, she said that “If this agency has been rejected by the rest of the states then on what grounds it has been brought here”.
It’s unfortunate that the youth who are protesting against the government move but they are being detained,” she said, adding that strict action should be taken against those who are giving opportunity to this blacklisted company to operate here.
“Giving this company an opportunity to work here is nothing less than playing with the future of the youth here,” Mehbooba said, adding that on the one hand, the government is firing people from their jobs and on the other hand, blacklisted companies are being brought here due to which the future of the youth here will become worse.
After widespread resentment by job aspirants and condemnations from politicians cutting across party lines, Jammu Kashmir National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah has sought an immediate cancellation of purported contract to the Company for conducting exams.
In a tweet Omar Abdullah wrote, “This contract must immediately be cancelled. What is the point of black listing company if they are going to be awarded plum contracts.” “This contract is even more dangerous because it puts at risk the future of scores of aspirants who rely on JKSSRB to conduct recruitment exams”, he tweets.
In another tweet Omar wrote; “I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the use of force & lathi charge against students & JKSSRB aspirants. These youngsters were exercising their democratic right to protest against the recent decision to engage a blacklisted firm #Aptech by JKSSRB.”