“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Fayyaz opens a can of worms and sees another example of institutionalized corruption in the state

(Mr. Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, 49, was born in Bodina, Budgam, and received his primary and secondary education in Budgam and later at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He completed his Master’s degree in Kashmiri language and literature from the University of Kashmir in 1987. After working with Rashtriya Sahara and Kashmir Times in 1993-94, and later for 13 years as Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, he is woking as Resident Editor/ Srinagar Bureau Chief of Jammu-based English daily Early Times since April 2009. He is also a filmmaker whose forte in audio-visual media is Kashmir’s composite culture, heritage, ecology and social issues. Since February 2008, he has been regularly anchoring Take One Television’s bi-weekly hard talk show “Face To Face With Ahmed Ali Fayyaz” which is watched by more than three million viewers in Srinagar, Jammu and other urban areas of Jammu & Kashmir.)

After School Education, Higher Education too in the Dock

Srinagar: Officials associated with absorption of Local Fund Employees (LFEs) in different colleges of the state have committed gross irregularities in making Class 4th appointments. While the officials of Department of Higher Education have yet again taken a lion’s share of the vacancies and managed to absorb their sisters and sisters-in-law in multiples, those serving in the colleges for 15 to 18 years have been fraudulently shown as ‘ineligible’ in terms of qualification and dropped only to create room for relatives and bribe paying clients.

Through a notification published in a Greater Kashmir news paper dated February 19th, 2012, Department of Higher Education in Civil Secretariat has declared selection of 130 LFEs for different Class 4th vacancies in different colleges of Kashmir Division. Principals of the degree colleges had engaged as many as 412 for continuing job of class IV employees, in absence of regular staff, on temporary basis in the last nearly 18 years. Their remuneration, which was initially fixed at around Rs 1,000 and gradually enhanced to over Rs 3,000 a month, came from Local Fund of these colleges.

Even as many of those engaged happened to be the relatives and domestic helps of professors and principals, quite a number of them were engaged compassionately and made to work much more than the regular Class IV staff. With many of these LFEs crossing age-bar and working hard, pressure mounted on successive governments to absorb them against substantive class IV vacancies. Minister of Higher Education in Omar Abdullah government, Abdul Gani Malik, took keen interest to ensure that the service rules were changed and 40% of the vacancies were reserved for LFEs.

It was decided that the candidates eligible by qualification on their respective dates of engagement would be selected after verification of their academic record, merit and reserved category, if any, irrespective of their age-bar which ranged between 34 and 37 years in the last 18 years. When the final selection list, under Order No: 50/HE of 2012 dated 17-02-2012 was published by Director of Colleges on February 19th, many of the candidates were taken aback.

One of the candidates dropped, namely Shameema, who is now over 50-year-old and had struggled hard for the reservation and absorption of LFEs, attempted suicide at Press Enclave. Engaged in 1994 and now a grandmother of four children, Shameema has been dropped for being “only Middle Pass”. Her argument is that “Middle Pass” used to be the coded qualification for all class IV appoints till 2008. Not only that. The selection list clearly mentions the qualification of five selected LFEs as “Middle Pass”. All the five have been engaged years after Shameema was.

Gulshan Ara, engaged on 29-10-1996 at Govt College for Women, M A Road, has also been dropped. According to the published gazette of J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE) and the original certificate she waves to mediapersons, Gulshan Ara has passed her Matriculation examination under Roll No: 872479 in November-December session of 1994. Two of the department’s Deputy Directors, who had been deputed by Director of Colleges, for verification of the qualifications claimed by the LFEs, entered into a criminal conspiracy at Govt Amar Singh College recently and eliminated her from all lists for being only “Middle Pass”. They allegedly created space for a far junior candidate and got her selected.

This act of criminal conspiracy passed off smoothly inspite of proven honesty and integrity of almost all the higher ups—Minister of Higher Education Abdul Gani Malik, Commissioner-Secretary Hr Education, Tanvir Jehan, and incharge Director of Colleges, Mrs Muqbil Chisti.

In the last leg of the selection process, Director of Colleges sought the latest verification of the LFEs particulars vide her No: EC-Coll/GCET/2011 dated 21-12-2011. Principal of Govt College for Women furnished a signed list vide No: WC/44 Dated 10-01-2012, certifying that Gulshan Ara was a Matriculate when she had been engaged on 29-10-1996 as also when the tentative list was formulated on 09-09-2004. Still the staff from Higher Education Department, as unknown to Gulshan Ara but revealed to Early Times by Director of Colleges Mrs Chisti, mentioned her as “Middle Pass” and got her dropped from the final selection list.

Two of Gulshan’s juniors, namely Mubeena Akhtar and Mehfooza Jan, have been selected and asked by the notification to join the regular service within 21 days. All the three belong to ‘Open’ category and all the three have matriculation as their qualification.

Tentative List, containing 428 names, was made on the cut-off date of 09-09-2004 and published in Greater Kashmir dated 25-12-2009. Under Secretary Dhananter Singh called for objections, if any, within 21 days. With no objection to the three names mentioned hereinabove, Final List was notified by same Under Secretary to Government vide No: EC-Coll/LF/List/2009 dated 04-10-2010 and published in Greater Kashmir dated 12-10-2010.

In both the lists Gulshan Ara figures at Serial No: 81 and her qualification is mentioned as Matric. She is duly shown to have been engaged on 29-10-1996. Principal’s letter No: WC/44 dated 10-01-2012, addressed to Director of Colleges also mentions her as a Matriculate. She does not figure anywhere in the Final selection List published in Greater Kashmir dated 19-02-2012.

In both, Tentative List (GK 25-12-2009) and Final List (GK 12-10-2010), Gulshan’s junior Mubeena Akhtar (Govt Degree College Boys Sopore) figures at Serial No: 83. She is duly mentioned to have been engaged on 02-12-1996 and her qualification is duly shown as Matric. According to GK 19-02-2012, she has been selected and appointed as Gardener (at serial No:7).

Similarly, another of Gulshan’s juniors, namely Mehfooza Jan, figures at Serial No: 97 in both (Tentative and Final) lists. Engaged on 01-07-1996 at M A Road, Mehfooza has been initially mentioned as Class 12th pass but her selection list finally makes it clear that her actual qualification was only Matric. Despite her wrong statement, she too has been selected and appointed as Lady Attendant in the regular Class IV grade.

Reached over telephone for his comments, Minister of Higher Education told Early Times that he would examine such injustices in detail and not only rectify the errors but also punish the guilty. Commissioner-Secretary Higher Education, Tanvir Jehan, maintained that irregularities committed would be removed and the genuine candidates appointed after verification of their complaints. She advised the complainants to submit their representation in detail to her in the next 15 days.

Tanvir asserted that “maximum care” had been taken to complete the exercise in a fair and transparent manner but did not rule out sinister interventions by lower level staff. She sought to make it clear that the exercise had been conducted under the supervision of Director of College who would rectify the errors, if any.

Director of Colleges, Mrs Muqbil Chisti said after verification of records that Gulshan Ara had been shown as “Middle Pass” in the Final list and thus dropped. When it was pointed out to her that not only her certificates and academic records but both, Tentative as well as Final list, shows her duly a Matriculate after all verifications, she assured that she would inquire into it and take stringent action against the officially involved in committing this fraud.