After Opposition Leaders Join Exam Protesters, J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s Strong Remarks

After Opposition Leaders Join Exam Protesters, J&K Lt Governor's Strong Remarks

Farooq Abdullah joins a protest by job aspirants in Jammu and Kashmir (File)


Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has accused local political leaders of previous governments of allegedly giving jobs to terrorists and their relatives. Mr Sinha blamed them for instigating protests by job aspirants against his administration as thousands have been protesting against a controversial blacklisted agency, which was engaged by the Union Territory administration to conduct recruitment exams.

“How can the same people who have given jobs to terrorists and their relatives talk? They have no moral right to talk, they who have appointed one lakh people through the backdoor,” said Mr Sinha.

He alleged a deliberate attempt to stall recruitments and asked protesting candidates not to take out candlelight marches. In a scathing attack on opposition leaders, Mr Sinha alleged “they have looted land and jobs in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Recently, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – both former chief ministers – joined candlelight protests by job aspirants.

Thousands of job aspirants across Jammu and Kashmir have been protesting to demand that the contract awarded to a controversial agency, Aptech Limited, to conduct recruitment exams for government jobs should be withdrawn.

Aptech was blacklisted by several states in the past and fined Rs 10 lakh by the Delhi High Court for alleged fraud and manipulations in recruitments.

Over the last one year, there has been scam after scam in government recruitments in Jammu and Kashmir. At least four recruitment lists including 1,200 posts of sub-inspectors  have been cancelled following allegations of paper leak, massive corruption and manipulation of the recruitment process.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking into four recruitment scams and has arrested several people.

Mr Sinha said action is being taken against the accused. “I assure that we will act against anyone howsoever powerful they may be,” he said.

Despite allegations of engaging a blacklisted agency and changing clauses of tender in an attempt to favour Aptech, Mr Sinha insisted no wrongdoing has taken place. “Be assured, no wrongdoing has happened and no wrongdoing will be allowed to happen,” Mr Sinha said.

Last year, after protests and allegations of corruption in recruitments, the Union Territory administration scrapped the selection list of at least four recruitment exams.

The administration announced to hold fresh exams, but the contract to conduct these was given to Aptech, which was blacklisted by Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court in December strongly indicated the administration gave the contract to a tainted agency. The court said the decision to award the contract to Aptech was “malafide” and the 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.

But just a day after the judgement, a division bench of the high court stayed single-bench order after the administration challenged the judgment.

Recently, the division bench set aside the single-bench order and told court to hear the case afresh.

Last year, 1,200 candidates were selected for the post of sub-inspectors, 1,300 as junior engineers and about 1,000 as finance account assistants. But after protests over massive corruption in recruitments, the administration cancelled the recruitment results.

Mr Sinha then announced fresh exams and promised a transparent and fair recruitment process. Soon, protests broke out over the government’s decision to award the contract to the tainted agency to hold these exams.

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