Earlier this month, Jammu and Kashmir’s General Administration Department (O9JK-GAD of 2021) issued a circular, asking all the administrative secretaries, divisional commissioners and heads of various departments to get security clearance of unverified government employees from the J&K Police’s criminal investigation department (CID).
The new guidelines by the government included scrutiny of social media accounts of employees. Though in 2017, the government had released a list of dos and don’ts for its employees who have a presence on social media, this is the first time that the police have been entrusted with the task of scrutinising the social media activity of employees.
Besides seeking basic details such as name, date of birth, and address, the heads of government departments have also been asked to provide details of “social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)” of employees whose verification is yet to be carried out.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration announced that it would not clear salaries and allowances to new government employees who do not pass security clearance by the criminal investigation department (CID) of the J&K Police. The circular noted that “many individuals with dubious character antecedents and conduct have been paid salaries and other allowances, without obtaining their mandatory CID verification”.
The GAD circular further added that the verification of such cases should be “completed expeditiously and no new entrant in the Government Service (will be) paid salary/allowances till verification” is completed.
The new circular issued by the J&K administration an attempt to curb radicalisation among government employees
The circular is an attempt by the Modi government to clampdown on the Islamic radicalisation that is prevalent among the employees of the J&K government, who are drawing a salary from the central government but harbour anti-India sentiments.
For a long time now, social media platforms were used by fanatics, terrorists and radicalised youth in the valley to disseminate hatred against India. The platforms were exploited by these anti-India elements to plan violent uprisings against the Indian government. It widely documented how the social media websites were used by the Pakistan-based handlers to recruit fresh blood for their terror activities and to foment trouble in the Valley. Social media websites were also used by the separatists to mobilise youth to provoke them for stone-pelting.
With the latest circular, the government plans to identify those employees, who officially swear allegiance to the Indian Constitution, but extend their support to nefarious activities of separatists, terrorists and harbour dream of Jammu and Kashmir’s secession from India.
The latest move by the Government of India is in line with its attempts to curb rumours and misinformation that is spread by people with separatist ideology. Soon after the Centre abrogated Article 370, the government asked Twitter to take down some handles that were indulging in spreading rumours and misinformation to disturb the peace and calm in the valley.
In November 2019, three employees were suspended after a photograph of them attending a political function had gone viral on the internet. Earlier in April 2019, a power department employee was suspended for an objectionable post on new domicile rules.
A news report published in August 2020 stated that up to 500 to 1000 government employees posing threat to security and integrity of the State could be dismissed in the next two to three months.
Similarly, earlier this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Police stepped up its efforts of de-radicalisation by inviting volunteers to patrol social media and flag posts on “radicalisation” and “anti-national activities” among others issues for the government.
In 2020, the Centre had altered civil service regulations to allow it to retire government servants who served at least 22 years or reached the age of 48 years based on the performance of the employees. In February 2021, the government ordered deputy commissioners of all districts in the Kashmir Valley to forward details of all employees who would complete 22 years of service or attain the age of 48 by December 2021 and specify whether they are involved in any “political activity”.