Even though the State government has clarified that no rules have been flouted in recruitment of senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani’s grandson in the Department of Tourism, his job has trigged a debate in the Valley.
Some have supported Geelani’s grandson’s application for a government job, calling it a normal exercise. Others believe it to be against the ideological moorings of Geelani, questioning his political grandstanding and his calls for strikes and protests.
In an unusual move, a government spokesman on Saturday evening issued a statement, saying that the grandson of Geelani, Anees-ul-Islam, has been appointed as a research officer in the Sheri Kashmir Convocation Centre (SKICC) purely on the basis of merit and the CID wing of the J&K Police has also given a satisfactory and non-involvement report in his favor.
Following reports about “government bending rules” in providing the job to Anees-ul-Islam, the government spokesman said that an advertisement notification for the post was issued October 3, 2016, in the open merit category.
The spokesman said that in response to the advertisement notice, the SKICC received 196 applications and for the purpose of short-listing of candidates, it was decided that the applicants, who had secured 75 per cent and above marks in the MBA be called for interview and viva voce. “A panel of the officers was accordingly constituted for conducting the interview of the shortlisted candidates and the interviews were conducted on November 5, 2016 at SKICC, Srinagar.”
The spokesman said out of 196 applicants, who had applied for the said post, 35 candidates, who had secured the requisite qualifying marks or above in MBA, were called for interview and only 32 candidates appeared for the interview on the date specified.
“In terms of the set criteria, the merit list was drawn by the Selection Committee and submitted to the competent authority for approval for appointment of the suitable candidate, who secured 1st position in order of merit,” the spokesman said. He added that the select list was issued on November 30, 2016 and accordingly, Anees-ul-Islam was appointed in light of securing the top-spot on the merit list.
However, the government response has not set the debate to rest. Those, like leading business-woman Dr. Gazala Amin, see nothing wrong in the recruitment of Geelani’s grandson, and she opined on Facebook: “Why should one presume that anyone's children or grandchildren agree with or emulate the ideologies of their parents or grandparents .My children and I disagree on many things ... So, do others?”
But, Bashir Manzar, who edits Kashmir Images, a Srinagar-based newspaper, has a counter. He says: “Every deserving candidate, no matter whose kin he or she is, has a right to get a job. Same is true for Geelani's grandson. He got what he deserved (if one goes by the clarification issued by SKICC). Opposing his appointment only because he is Geelani's grandson is ridiculous. That said, there is a moral question for Geelani. If he stops Kashmiri children from attending schools for 8 long months for "AZADI's SAKE", how come his kin are free to study and get degrees from London or elsewhere?”
Another senior journalist has described it as a non-issue while arguing, “As people we need to ask ourselves these questions: Can a militant's child apply for admission in a government school? Can a separatist leader's wards study outside? Can an ex-militant apply for a job? Does a thinker have a right to exist without a label in Kashmir? Should someone hit by a pellet take an ex-gratia amount? Should a slain civilian's kith and kin take up a job? Last question, does the Kashmir problem exist because of these petty questions? Go, get some air!”
After the killing of 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffer Wani on July 8, last year, the three separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq would issue weekly calendars announcing a seven-day shutdown and marches and which relaxed only in the evening. The protest calendars continued for eight months as Kashmir observed one of the longest shutdown since 1990, when armed insurgency backed by mass uprising erupted in the restive state.