A systemic flaw

Uncovering the flaws in Kashmir’s employment recruitment process
Representational Image
Representational Image File/ GK

Kashmir has been plagued by employment recruitment scams for a long time, with hundreds of discrepancies found in almost every recruitment process. Unfortunately, despite promises of change, and delivery of transparency, little has been done to address these issues in recent years.

The BJP government had pledged at the time of abrogation of Article 370 to conduct fair recruitment processes, but it seems that this goal remains far from achievable.

When asked about its plans for Kashmir in the past, the BJP government ensured to bring transparency across all government operations, while, accusing other regional parties such as the JKNC and JKPDP of involvement in scams.

But the current issue of corruption in the employment recruitment process in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has called into question BJP’s integrity.

As one of an aspiring candidates searching for employment in Jammu and Kashmir, I have my own tales to tell 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 lack of competence in a highly competitive environment.

However, my experience with the recruitment process has left me shaken to the core. In 2019, the J&K Bank notified several employment vacancies for banking associates and probationary officers. I managed to qualify the preliminary test for the probationary officer’s post and appeared for the mains which is the secondary process for probationary officer’s post.

However, shortly after completing the examination, Kashmir went under lock down as Article 370 was abrogated. There was little information on recruitments, as internet was shut down in the region for a long time. During the internet shut down, the only source of communication to learn about the employment recruitment processes was through TV channels.

Aspirants like myself who had studied hard for the examination were left for months waiting for the results, only to find out that the whole process that involved a year’s time had been scrapped with the promise of a more transparent one in the future.

The then Principal Secretary appeared on one TV channel and announced the whole process being scrapped. This message that time only added insult to the injury, and many of us who had studied hard were left reeling from the shockwave. The entire process took two years, causing a significant loss of time and the outcome was ultimately scrapped.

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 the 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, shaking the confidence of aspiring 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 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. In this scarcity of jobs, aspirants are facing such unfortunate challenges that they have to protest for the demand of fair process.

Following the cancellation of a company involved in the scam of JKPSI and finance accounts assistant recruitment process, the board has now contracted another 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 a questionable track record, having been blacklisted by several states. More recently one such scam was cracked in the UT of Ladakh. Despite such happenings, the JKSSB chose to engage its services for the recruitment process. As a result, the careers of countless aspirants hang in the balance, as the board continues to ignore the lessons of the past.

The board has been defending the company openly, even at the time of hiring process, it amended the provisions paving way for a blacklisted company. By such steps, it is a clear indication that nothing is going right and aspirants are being deceived openly.

Aspirants have taken to the streets in protest for the past few days, demanding the cancellation of the company’s contract, as they refuse to be deceived any further.

However, the response from the J&K board and administration has been evasive and ambiguous. Despite the urgent need for an intervention, the administration has failed to address the issue, and the Lieutenant Governor has remained tight-lipped on the matter.

It has now become the norm in Kashmir for job vacancies to be advertised. However, when discrepancies are found in the process, the entire selection procedure often gets delayed due to court proceedings, leaving the aspirants in a state of uncertainty. As a result of these discrepancies, many candidates exceed the maximum age limit and experience psychological trauma.

The government has a responsibility to ensure that the recruitment process is fair and transparent. The recent scandals have undermined that responsibility, leaving aspiring candidates disillusioned and without a clear path to government employment.

To restore confidence, the government must take swift and decisive action. It is high time that the government intervenes and takes action to restore confidence in the recruitment agencies and ensure that the recruitment process is conducted fairly and transparently. This will help avoid similar incidents in the future.

The author is currently working on Rural Self employment.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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