Kashmir has been plagued by recruitment scams for a long time with hundreds of discrepancies found in almost every hiring process. Unfortunately, despite promises of change and transparency, little has been done to address these issues in the recent years.
Recently, massive protests by employment aspirants led to the recruitment exams conducted by a blacklisted agency to be postponed by the J&K administration a day after Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha targetted opposition parties for instigating the uproar.
A Harrowing Process for Job-Seekers
As an aspiring job candidate in Jammu and Kashmir, I have my own tales about the disappointments and frustrations experienced with the employment recruitment process.
For the longest time, I believed that my inability to qualify for competitive exams was due to my own incompetence in a highly competitive environment. However, my experience with the recruitment process has left me shaken to the core.
In 2019, J&K Bank notified several employment vacancies for banking associates and probationary officers. I managed to qualify for the preliminary test for the latter post and appeared for the mains which is the secondary process for the same.
However, shortly after completing the examination, Kashmir went under lockdown in the aftermath of Article 370 changes. There was little information on recruitment owing to long internet shutdowns. The only source of communication to learn about the employment recruitment processes was through TV channels.
The then Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal appeared on one TV channel and announced the whole process had been dismissed. His message only added insult to injury, and many of us who had studied hard were left desolate. The entire process took two years, causing a significant loss of time, and the outcome was ultimately nullified.
Corruption Drives Govt Hirings in UTs
In recent years, the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) issued several advertisements where it claimed to conduct fair and transparent recruitment processes with only merit holders making it to the final selection list. Until yesterday, it was a common belief among the aspirants.
However, the board's recent release of the merit list for police sub-inspector positions and finance accounts assistant were both marred with discrepancies, prompting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to launch a thorough investigation.
The probe uncovered multiple scams, thus, shaking the confidence of candidates and the public at large in the board's claims of transparency and fairness. Such revelations have cast doubts on the board's integrity with concerns about the rising corruption in government recruitment in Jammu and Kashmir.
Despite the lack of credibility in the past, the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) appears to be unapologetic and indifferent towards the aspirants who are tirelessly working to find jobs.
Following the cancellation of a company involved in the scam of JKPSI and finance accounts assistant recruitment process, the board has now contracted another blacklisted company to undertake the hiring process which has cast more doubts on the fairness of the recruitment process promised by the board.
The chosen company has had a questionable track record, having been blacklisted by several states. More recently one such scam was cracked in the UT of Ladakh. Despite such incidents, the JKSSB chose to engage its services for the recruitment process. As a result, the careers of countless aspirants hang in the balance.
The board has been defending the company by arguing that the company it hired for the recruitment process, had completed the blacklisted period at the time of selection. However, it is important to note that the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) amended its provisions that allowed blacklisted companies to apply for the process. These actions suggest that something is amiss and that aspirants are being openly deceived.
Unfair Job Infrastructure Impedes the Sanity of Aspirants
Aspirants have taken to the streets protesting for the past few days, demanding the cancellation of the company’s contract, as they refuse to be deceived any further. The JKSSB has now deferred computer-based examinations for various posts which were earlier to be held on 16 March. While the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has ensured transparency, people like me remain uncertain of our future.
It has now become the norm in Kashmir for job vacancies to be advertised and be left lingering for a long time.
Many candidates exceed the maximum age limit and experience psychological trauma.
To restore confidence, the government must take swift and decisive action. It is high time that the government intervenes and restores confidence in the recruitment agencies and ensure that the process is conducted fairly and transparently.
(Yasir Altaf Zargar is a Srinagar-based web security analyst. He can be reached @subtlearttt. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)