‘Political patchworks will yield no results’

Kashmir Magazine

Kadfeen Choudhary is Jammu and Kashmir Congress Committee’s Organising Secretary. This young Congress man could be seen quite active on social media, pinpointing the loopholes in the administration and seeks resolution of peoples’ issues from the power corridors. Kadfeen was perhaps the first politician who recently highlighted how the government at present has adopted a contrary approach vis-a-vis the regularisation of thousands of daily wagers and casual workers.

In an exclusive chat with The Kashmir Magazine, Kadfeen underscores the need of making the government answerable to all the claims it has made to the people who are “reeling under absolute perturbation.”


Excerpts from an interview


Q: How do you see the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir at present?

The political situation in Jammu and Kashmir is precarious and there is a dire need for the political groups to rededicate themselves to peace and development through dialogue and reconciliation .The prolonged detention of various political leaders including the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is worrying and detrimental for the democracy to survive. Need of the hour is that political process should be restored and instead of a patch work, a comprehensive mechanism should be adopted to steer the ship to its shore. Leaders should be released from house detentions and allowed to meet to devise future course of action under democratic principles.

Q: How do you see the release of Dr Farooq Abdullah from detention? He is a parliament member from Srinagar and do you think it will help bringing situation to normalcy?

Such a measure will prove beneficial in highlighting the hardships of the common masses and end the political logjam prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, last year.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir reeling under severe crises at present are in dire need of a political leadership that could take them out of the current cycle of violence and restore their basic rights. The political personality like Dr Farooq who has decades of experience in state’s as well as in national politics is needed at the present perturbed time and that the government must release that bundling political voices in jail is not going to serve any purpose.

Q: You have been demanding restoration of high speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir. Govt says it was important to keep the speed throttled for peace and stability. What is your take?

The constant shutdown of high-speed mobile internet in Jammu and Kashmir is taking a heavy toll upon region’s students; businesses and aspirants working hard to crack various competitive exams. The gag is the biggest impediment in their learning process, leaving them at the mercy of a dreadful situation. The 4G mobile internet continues to remain blocked since August 5 last year and now when eight months have passed since the imposition of the internet gag, and people have been locked down in their homes due to COVID 19 threat, the situation is turning extremely worrisome. There are thousands of aspirants appearing in civil services like IAS or IPS whose primary source information like current affairs and online journals come to them via the internet only and with 4G snapped in entirety, these ill- fated students term the current situation most trying and troublesome. They cannot watch the online videos of experts of various fields who upload their weekly lessons on social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook. These students are further disgruntled over how access to the online journals and newspapers that constitute a vital aspect of civil services, has been sadistically denied to them. Not all can have the luxury of the high speed internet at home. We primarily rely upon the mobile internet. It is a sorry state of affairs that Jammu and Kashmir that has been absolutely peaceful even when there were apprehensions of law and order has been exposed to such hardships with its students left in lurch.

Q: Your statements have been highlighting the hardships of Tribal Children at present time. Tell us why do you find this extremely concerning?

It is deeply worrying that at a time when the government is mulling to introduce digital classrooms for the children who could not attend schools amid the lockdown, children from tribal community have been sadistically left in lurch by those at the helm in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a known fact that the tribal community is already facing plethora of hardships due to the ongoing lockdown and now the children who have neither facility of internet available nor are they able to attend schools, are put in dire straits. The government keeping in view the paucity of modern facilities available to the tribals, should come up with a comprehensive plan so that the children of the community in question aren’t left unattended.

I have been urging the government to constitute special teams of teachers that will monitor the educational requirements of these children and provide them with facilities that could equip them to avail education during the present crises sans any hindrance and difficulty.

Q: What is your take on the heavy losses to business community especially the tourism players has been facing due to the prevalent times?

The COVID 19 threat and the subsequent lockdown has plunged the one time thriving tourism sector of Kashmir into perturbation, leaving hoteliers, travel operators, artisans, and people associated with the field jobless in droves. There should be announcement of comprehensive package for the people associated with the tourism sector in Kashmir so that they aren’t pushed to the uncertain times any further. There are at present 4 lac, 25 thousand people directly dependent upon tourism in Kashmir, they include owners and employees at local hotels, houseboats, guest houses, restau­rant dormitories, dak-bungalows, holiday inns and tent houses directly associated with the tourism business in Kashmir. Further, there are 21 lac people who are indirectly dependent on Kashmir’s tourism. They include pony-keepers, taxi drivers shikarawalas, helpers, tourist guides, shopkeepers, vendors, and fruit sellers In total an estimated number of 25 people are in Kashmir whose livelihood is directly and indirectly dependent on tourist flow in Kashmir. Handicrafts sector have a strong base for employment generation in Kashmir. There is a large number of Kashmir’s population dependent on this sector. As per the government records, there are 507372 establishments in the state and there are 1084295 artisans throughout the state consisting of 594090 (55%) hired and 490205 (45.21%) not hired workers. The male workers are 81.34% and the female workers are 18.66% in the state. It includes Carpets, Woolen shawls and Paper Machie which are mostly sold to the tourists who come to Kashmir. It provides employment to 58 percent of population in Kashmir both directly and indirectly.


Q: The Government has recently announced a partial Darbar Move. Dont you think it is now time to abolish this obsolete practice forever?

At a time when the dispensation is caught with the covid19 outbreak, keeping the secretariat functional at Jammu as well as in Srinagar has only caused confusion and chaos in the already crises ridden administration. The government must take into consideration the hardships being faced by the people to get their grievances addressed due to the discreet mode of functioning of the government with no one having any idea where in actual is the civil secretariat based- in Srinagar or in Jammu?

The authorities must come clean on the issue of whether it has abolished more than 170-year-old practice of Darbar Move or it is still intact and alive. Even in the bureaucratic circles, there is confusion over where and in which region they have to establish their offices at the end of the day. If those at the helm are confused, imagine the plight of a common who yearns to get his grievances addressed without moving from pillar to post. The secretariat in Srinagar is functional with records left in Jammu. Those who have their pleas and cases submitted in civil secretariat have no idea whether to contact Jammu secretariat or Srinagar.

Q: You have been quite an advocate for regularisation of daily wagers in JK. Tell us why is this important matter and merits concern?

Time has come when government must regularise the services of 60 thousand daily wagers and casual workers in Jammu and Kashmir without any further delay.

The daily wagers have rendered services for years in different departments on meager wages and at present undermining their services and sacrifices will be akin to plunging their lives into chaos. Govt. at present seems to have adopted a completely different approach vis-à-vis addressing their plight. The recent advisement by the government over filing up of 10 thousand posts in various departments of Jammu and Kashmir has raised many eyebrows and asking daily wagers to apply for these posts was ironic to the core. What will happen to the years and decades of services these daily wagers have already tirelessly rendered. Who will pay for those services in which they have been given peanuts in the name of wages? The government is ought to be considerate over such an important issue on humanitarian grounds. Government has to implement the policy it has already approved for the regularisation of the daily wagers and those at the helm instead of exposing these workers to further hardships should walk the talk and honor the commitments of the past.

Q: Are you opposing the recently announced recruitment drives?

Unfortunately, there is nothing one could find beneficent for JK’s jobless youth. As per government’s own figures, more than one lakh youth are jobless in JK and you are coming with 10k class 4th recruitments to which even non state subjects are now eligible. No less than 12- 13 lack youth of the state are jobless and at least two lac educated youth are working on mearge amount of 150 rupees a day. As per the government’s own figures, among educated unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir, 54.9 percent youth are from rural areas while the remaining are from urban areas. People with Post graduate degrees in their possession are more than 20 thousand. In valley there are more than 29034 graduates who are unemployed and in Jammu province the number of jobless graduates is 12426. Kashmir division has 46703 people jobless who have passed 10+2 in various streams while as in Jammu the number is 27212.

The government instead of framing new rules for recruitment to make entry of non- state subjects possible in the government jobs, should have taken into consideration the swelling numbers of unemployment among the local youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

Q: You have been appreciating the medical fraternity in Jammu and Kashmir. What do you think the government should do for them to maximise their services towards the society?

The government should enhance the retirement age of the doctors serving in Jammu and Kashmir so that their expertise is utilised to the fullest to combat the COVID 19 aftermath. The need for more combative measures to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus in the country as well as in Jammu and Kashmir and urged the government to enhance the retirement age of the medicos in order to avail maximum benefit from their services at the present time. It is the high time when the experience and expertise of the senior doctors should be utilised by the government and the the aftermath of the deadly coronavirus is tamed and tackled with utmost seriousness. The paramedical staff engaged on the contractual basis in Jammu and Kashmir should be regularised as it is the high time when the government should recognise the appreciable work they are doing amid the present pandemic.

I hope that the government would focus on the betterment of the health care services in Jammu and Kashmir and provide people associated with the sector all types of facilities to tackle the prevalent crises.