Dismissal of Employees: Govt Relying More on Fear than Prudence?

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SRINAGAR: Twelve employees of the Jammu and Kashmir Government have had their services terminated. The reason(s), proffered by the Government, for their termination pertain to their alleged involvement in the protests that engulfed Kashmir after the killing of militant commander, Burhan Wani.

It may be stated here that soon after Burhan’s killing, a crescendo of protests descended upon the vale with almost everyone involved in one way or the other- either by commission or omission. The question, then is, why were these twelve singled out for what amounts to draconian punishment?

We may speculate that the singling out of the twelve may be an attempt to intimidate and silence others into submission. That is, by extracting and culling out what we would call a sample, the Government is signaling to other employees that they may incur the Government’s wrath if they do not fall into line. While this may explain why these twelve have been singled out, the termination does not, in our opinion, fall in the realm of justice.

While fear and coercion, candidly speaking, are very much part of a state’s arsenal but these should kick in only under exceptional circumstances. Yes, post Burhan, the circumstances that obtained in Kashmir were indeed exceptional but as we have pointed out, almost every Kashmiri was involved in the protest movement that defined Kashmir and continues to reverberate. Singling out and making an example of the twelve then is not right- morally and ethically.  Their dismissal is complemented by mass arrests and slapping of PSA’s on many people of the vale. Tied together this means that the Government is relying more on fear than prudence to kill and squelch what remains of the protests in Kashmir. All this suggests that the Government has essentially run out of ideas to deal with the aftermath of the protests in Kashmir.

Does, the question is, this set a predicate and a precedent for the future? Probably. If , it indeed becomes either then what we would have is an overbearing state that infringes into the liberties of people at will. This cannot and should not be the nature of the state. We already have Acts in place in Kashmir that give authorities wide latitude and leeway.

Adding another coercive layer to the state – albeit as a predicate and/or a precedent would make the state of Jammu an illiberal entity. This should not be the end goal of powers that be. It is only  a more just, and liberal  state that can align itself and embed itself in society. A draconian, fearsome state can add to the layers of alienation and disembeddedness of the state from society in Kashmir. In these and other senses, the government’s decision to single out a group of employees and punish them for diffuse and alleged offenses is ill thought, unjust and badly conceived.

The government should act out of prudence and a sense of proportion in and under any condition(s).  Whenever a state /government employs fear to deal with issues, it is not a telling indicator on those facing the brunt of the state but the state itself. Let the state rethink its approach and come up with solutions to issues that are just and equitable.

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