Senior Superintendent of Police, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Branch Kashmir, issued an unprecedented circular on Saturday, 31 July 2021.
"All the field units of CID SB-Kashmir are hereby directed to ensure that during verification related to passports, service and any other verification related to Government services/schemes, the subject's involvement in law & order, stone pelting cases and other crime prejudicial to the security of the State be specifically looked into and same must be corroborated from local Police station records," said the Circular.
The Circular directed the field officers to straightaway deny security clearance to anybody against whom Police, security forces or agencies had digital evidence like CCTV footage, photographs, videos and audio clips or drone images.
Even as most of the mainstream politicians, who have a track record of playing pseudoseparatist politics on such issues, are still silent, the first reaction has come from the National Conference (NC) leader and the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
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"An 'adverse police report' cannot be a substitute for being found guilty in a court of law. A year and a half ago J&K police were able to create an 'adverse police report' to justify my detention under the Public Safety Act that would never have stood up to legal challenge", Omar has tweeted. "They did the same with scores of others, many of whom had these police reports tossed out by the courts. An executive order cannot replace a court of law. Guilt or innocence must be proven in court & not based on vague unproven police reports."
A senior bureaucratic source in the Union Territory government's Law Department, who is not authorised to speak to the media, contended on the condition of anonymity that Omar's averment was "patently fallacious".
"He has served as Chief Minister and must be well aware that an adverse CID report is fundamentally different from the court conviction. Every government in the world, he knows, is lawfully empowered to deny passports and travel documents to the people posing a threat to a country's security. Every government has a right to choose its employees as per the laws, rules and qualifications it deems fit. No anti-national elements get a government job in Europe, America or any other country. In many countries, they are discharged on short notice without enquiry or appeal," explained the senior officer.
The officer asserted that anybody aggrieved was free to approach a court of law. "It's not a conviction by any interpretation", he said.
"Anti-national elements involved in terrorist and subversive activities have infiltrated into the government systems and institutions in Jammu and Kashmir due to flawed rules, procedures and policies from day one of the terrorism in 1989. Some of them have been terminated but many are still calling the shots and failing the government's delivery and programmes. The process of cleaning the system has become possible only after annulment of J&K's special status and other Central interventions in 2019", said the officer.
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According to highly placed bureaucratic sources, the decisions of denying government jobs, passports and licences to 'anti-national elements', besides terminating the services of such incumbents without enquiry and judicial interruptions, were based on "very strong reasons".
It has been repeatedly pointed out that the erstwhile State government's employees association, as well as an association of the lawyers protecting their employments, were among the constituents of the separatist Hurriyat Conference from 1993 to 2003 and for years thereafter.
It was mainly because of the deficient rules and procedures and the separatist-friendly laws and policies that almost all those fired by successive governments returned to the government services on court orders. In 1990-2019, most of the court orders came against the government and in favour of the petitioners whenever a CID/security clearance was denied or delayed to an applicant.
There have been radical changes in the system after July 2020. After several amendments for about nine months, 20 government employees have been discharged for being "threat to the security of the State". The government has lately decided to review performance and conduct of all the employees crossing 48 years of age or completing 22 years of service. It has been made clear that an adverse report would mean termination of an employee's service without notice and enquiry.
Various quarters have been repeatedly flagging that family members of most of the separatist leaders and militant commanders had grabbed prestigious government jobs and contracts due to nepotism and favouritism through backdoors in the last over 30 years. On the other hand, jobs have been denied to many of the meritorious candidates who had no access to the ecosystem of separatists, militants and their patrons in the government and certain mainstream political parties.
In the last two years, it has been observed that many of the militant recruits had crossed over to Pakistan for guerrilla training on Indian passports under the garb of 'visiting relatives' or admission in professional colleges. Simultaneously, a number of the known anti-India activists have travelled to the Gulf, Europe, America and other countries on the Indian passports and settled there for anti-India campaigns.
Shakir Altaf Bhat's killing in an encounter with security forces in Bandipora on 24 July has exposed the militants' game plan. Bhat was reportedly among more than 40 Kashmiri students who had travelled to Pakistan on the Indian passports from 2015 to 2019 and got themselves recruited in different terror outfits. According to senior officers, 28 of such youths have returned to Kashmir as trained militants and over a hundred are untraced. Most of them were reportedly residents of Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian districts of southern Kashmir.
The security agencies fear that they could be possible sleeper cells of terror groups operating from across the border.
Those denied passports on adverse CID reports include Mehbooba Mufti. She failed to secure any relief from the judiciary as the courts declined to interfere with the Police procedure. With the fresh CID Circular, thousands of the Kashmiri youths who participated in the violent demonstrations of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016, have landed in trouble.
According to the official figures, 11290 persons were detained in 3,773 cases of violent demonstrations and stone pelting in 2016-17. Around 9,000 were arrested over similar charges from 2008 to 2016. Both the Chief Ministers, Omar and Mehbooba, granted amnesty to over 95 percent of them. Many of them got passports and government jobs as CID did not report anything adverse. Those arrested and later released included 56 government employees. Lastly, around 3,000 persons were arrested over similar charges and precautions in August 2019 and thereafter.