PM Package Employees

Making them sign a bond that will forcibly restrict them to serve in Kashmir Valley alone for whole of their life time sounds irrational on all counts.
Kashmiri Pandits PM Package employees during a protest against the killing of a fellow woman employee in Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday May 31, 2022. The employees have been asking for transfer from valley amid spike in targeted killings here.[Representational Image]
Kashmiri Pandits PM Package employees during a protest against the killing of a fellow woman employee in Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday May 31, 2022. The employees have been asking for transfer from valley amid spike in targeted killings here.[Representational Image] File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

BY PROF.A.N.SADHU

It is several months now that PM Package Employees are on the protest; after one of their associates was subjected to target killing, in his office itself. That the murder took place in this manner, raises many a question and doubt, on the security environment in the valley.

He worked in Revenue office, which is usually frequented by a large number of people everyday. How could any Tom, Dick and Harry enter the office without proper check up by the security personnel.

Either there was no security, which belies the claims of the government of providing foolproof security to these employees, or there was serious negligence of the security staff posted there. In any case, the administration can’t be absolved of its incompetence. The targeted killing has been continuing even thereafter.

The P.M Package employees should not be treated as a separate category of employees. They are the part and parcel of regular state establishment and should be treated as such.

The then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2008, on his visit to some camps of displaced persons was moved by seeing the plight of these people who were forced out of their homes and hearths. He got the traumatic recollections of his own displacement in 1947 and felt genuinely concerned about these hapless souls.

The youth of Kashmiri Hindus ( usually known as KPs ) was not getting any jobs and the unemployed youth had swelled to an alarming number. He, therefore announced a package of employment for them as a measure of much needed economic sustenance. It was never thought of as a part of the Return and Rehabilitation programme.

The unemployed youth of the KPs were unable to establish a family of their own and it generated adverse demographic effects on the minuscule minority of KPs besides causing serious psychological effects on the youth. Dr. Manmohan Singh a reputed economist at the international level, could visualize the far reaching consequences on the community and sanctioned a package of 6000 jobs to the unemployed youth of the displaced population. It was a pure economic support to the beleaguered community.

It is understandable to think that employment of youth of the displaced community and their posting in Kashmir Valley might become a motivating factor for the KPs to return to the valley with greater confidence. Every rational thinking person would have raised a similar expectation.

The displaced people as also different echelons of the government would have thought of this package as a step towards reversing the trend that set in the 1990’s.

It was with this hope, the parents agreed to send their children to Kashmir and thought that it will doubly benefit them; firstly, in terms of much needed economic support and secondly, in helping to re-establish a connect with the socio cultural environment, they left behind in 1990’s to save their life and honour.

Even the children might have gone there with excitement of re-living their lives in the environment of which they have had the taste in early childhood and even those who were born after the exodus must have gone with greater excitement of exploring the social climate and cultural environment, which their elders left behind very painfully and of which they might have talked to them in very high terms.

But making them sign a bond that will forcibly restrict them to serve in Kashmir Valley alone for whole of their life time sounds irrational on all counts. This bond reduces them to an unequal designated category of employees as against their being the respectable employees of a democratic establishment.

The danger to their life is a visible threat and the government should view it from that perspective. Now that J&K is a UT and all the state laws are replaced by the central laws and in this changed administrative set up, a fresh look may be given to the terms and conditions of their employment under the PMs package.

One alternative that comes to mind is that these employees be sent on deputation to the central government offices outside Kashmir in Jammu and the neighboring states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and UT of Chandigarh, so that they can be recalled as soon things normalize in Kashmir.

It is extremely unfortunate that the central government has not framed any comprehensive Return and Rehabilitation policy up till now. A generation has already passed; how long more should a beleaguered community wait for justice.

The time is running out. We are caught in a conundrum and we have to come out of it and work on a thoughtful all encompressing policy on Return and Rehabilitation. Any delay, in this regard, will have detrimental consequences.

India is a great civilisation with global recognition. History is full with upswing & downswings of world civilisations and this oscillatory journey of history will continue along the time path. India withstood almost a thousand years of alien tribal raids and other alien aggressions and is on the path of re-discovering the richness of its legacy.

That India is on the threshold of becoming a Vishwa Guru, is an achievable target. One would wish to look forward to the statesmanship of the leadership to strive hard and thoughtfully to close in on that destination.

One important component of this programme is, undoubtedly, the diversity of the nation, and protection of this diversity is of utmost importance. Ancient India has been at its zenith; in knowledge and spirituality and Kashmir has been a fountainhead of Indian civilization and its contributions to Mathematics, Grammar, Spirituality, Philosophy and Social ethics are of very high order.

Protecting the country’s diversity is like nurturing the vast variety of plants in a garden, that blossom into colourful flowers with fragrance and freshness. The minorities need to be protected against all odds and in every part of the country so that the beauty of India’s diversity is not diminished in any way.

J&K has shown exemplary response, as and when it was required towards strengthening social harmony, tolerance and religious brotherhood and all efforts have to be made to recreate that ethos. Until some serious thinking goes into it, the need of the hour is to work out a thoughtful alternative for PM Package employees so that no further loss of life takes place. Kashmiri Pandits would be willing to join any exercise aimed at restoring the pristine glory of J&K.

Rigidity and reconciliation are two opposite positions. While rigidity constrains the achievable positions, the reconciliation opens opportunities for resolution. In a vast country like ours, the small problem, relating to some minor sections of population, should not pose an unsurpassable challenge.

Not that one does not understand the difficulties and sensitivities of the government, but the pain of civilians does weigh greater when an unforeseen threat stares into their eyes. Acceptance than rejection should be the corner stone of development administration.

In the meantime, the government should pay immediate attention, to the following to restore greater confidence among the displaced KPs

The passage of Kashmiri Hindu’s Temples and Shrines Bill, which has been pending for more than a decade now.

To promote inter community dialogue at different levels.

To provide adequate accommodation and other required facilities such as schooling for children and health facilities.

Prof. A.N.Sadhu, Former Dean Academic Affairs,Jammu University, Jammu

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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