On Wednesday, police detained a number of protesters who were attempting to block roads in Jammu by using lathi-charge.
The protesters were young job seekers who were expressing their dissatisfaction with a blacklisted agency hired by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to conduct recruitment exams for government jobs.
This agency has a history of alleged fraud and manipulation in the recruitment process and has been blacklisted by several states in the country.
Simultaneous protests were also taking place in Srinagar, with demonstrators demanding that exams be conducted fairly and that the recruitment process be transparent.
Over the past few years, recruitment for government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir has been plagued by corruption and paper leaks, resulting in several recruitment lists being scrapped.
These protests were organized following a significant online campaign against the blacklisted agency, Aptech Limited, and the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB), which has also been involved in a recruitment scam in recent years.
Political leaders have criticized the police’s actions against the job seekers, expressing solidarity with them.
Last year, protests and allegations of corruption in recruitment led the Jammu and Kashmir administration to cancel the selection list of at least four recruitment exams.
The administration announced plans to hold fresh exams, but the contract to conduct these exams was given to M/S Aptech Limited, a controversial agency that had been blacklisted by UP, Rajasthan, and Assam. Even the Delhi High Court imposed a penalty of ₹ 10 lakh on Aptech for alleged malpractices in recruitment.
In December, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court strongly criticized the administration for awarding a contract to a tainted agency. The court called the decision “malafide” and stated that the private agency was favored due to a change in tender conditions.
However, a division bench of the High Court stayed the single bench judgment after the administration quickly challenged the order. The division bench allowed the Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board to proceed with the exams but barred it from declaring results until further orders from the court.
The JKSSB is facing multiple investigations by the CBI following allegations of malpractices in recruitment exams for Police, Junior Engineers, Financial Account Assistants, etc.
The CBI has arrested over a dozen accused, including a commandant of the Border Security Force, for their alleged involvement in a police sub-inspector recruitment scam. According to CBI investigations, exam papers for Police sub-inspector posts were sold for ₹ 20 to 30 lakh.
After canceling recruitment lists, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha promised a transparent and fair recruitment process and announced fresh exams.
However, the decision to award contracts to a tainted agency, Aptech Limited, to hold these exams delivered another setback to thousands of job aspirants. Some job aspirants filed a petition challenging the decision to award the contract to M/s Aptech.
The court’s single bench had ordered the government to establish a committee led by a retired High Court judge to investigate the JKSSB’s conduct for “flagrant irregularities/ illegalities in modifying the terms/conditions of the tender and granting the contract to an agency that had previously enabled misconduct in public examinations.”