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Verification of J&K teachers’ certificates stirs hornet’s nest

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Naeem Akhtar has stirred a hornet’s nest by announcing that the certificates of those employed as ‘Rehbar-e-Taleem’ (ReT) teachers in the state would be verified and they would have to clear a screening test before being regularized.

ReT teachers are engaged in the state on a consolidated monthly packet of Rs.3,000 for five years after which they are confirmed in government service and put in the regular pay scales.

The aim of the scheme has been to engage locals in different areas and post them in their own areas to ensure attendance and duties in addition to exposing the state exchequer to lesser burden.

“The hon’ble high court had directed the state government on May 14 to scrutinize the degree certificates of ReTs who obtained such certificates through distance mode and also conduct screening tests of ReTs before regularizing their services,” Akhtar told IANS.

“The government is only complying with the directions of the hon’ble high court in this case,” he added.

Interestingly, the union leaders of the school teachers in the state are up in arms against the decision.

Abdul Qayoom Wani, president of the J&K teachers’ forum, told IANS: “It is an exercise to make the state education department defunct and cast aspersions on the genuineness of the universities that have given degrees to these teachers.”

“These teachers have obtained degrees from recognized universities and seeking the verification of these degrees now would open floodgates of corruption and prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the department.

“What is the fun of verifying a degree obtained from a recognized university? Further, the decision to start screening tests for regularization would be a mockery as ReTs serve for five years under the condition that their services would be regularized at the end of the mandatory period,” Wani added.

The education minister supported his decision, saying: “Pure gold tested at any touchstone would turn out to be the same.”

“Why create a controversy that gives one to believe the certificates we intend to verify are not verifiable because of reasons known only to them who oppose such verification?”

Arguments for and against the proposed verification and screening tests were debated through newspaper columns and on FM Radio broadcasts in the state.

It is for the first time since the ongoing separatist violence started here 28 years ago that education and learning have entered public discourse in Jammu and Kashmir.

The common man on the street is showing keen interest in the debate.

“There should be nothing wrong in verifying any degree certificate irrespective of whether the same is issued by a recognized university or not. Haven’t we heard of fake certificates issued in the name of recognized and prestigious universities by fraudulent people?” asked Manzoor Ahmad, 56, a resident of old Srinagar.

Others say there should be no controversy about something the highest court in the state orders.

“The decision of the court cannot be challenged except through a legal process. If the high court has ordered such a thing, nobody can question the direction unless it is challenged or set aside by a division bench of the same court or the apex court of the country,” said advocate Zahoor Ahmad.

(IANS)

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Supreme Court asks Center and J&K govt to sit together and resolve Muslim Minority status

Earlier, the court had issued notice to the Centre, the state government and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the plea filed by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma, alleging that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims, who were in a majority in Jammu and Kashmir

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New Delhi, March 27, 2017: Expressing its viewpoint on the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Central and the State government of Jammu and Kashmir to “sit together” and decide contentious issues including the question whether Muslims can be treated as the minority in the state, PTI reported.

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A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul asked both the governments to resolve the issue and submit a report to it within four weeks.

“This is a very very important issue. You both sit together and take a stand on it,” the bench said.

A month ago, the apex court had ordained a fine of Rs 30,000 on it for not documenting its answer to a PIL charging that minority advantages are being enjoyed by the majority of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The beach had extended a last chance to the Center to document its answer, saying the matter is critical.

The court had, however, permitted the counsel for the Center to file the response after depositing the fine and had additionally noticed that a fine of Rs 15,000 was likewise forced last time also for the similar reason.

Earlier, the court had issued notice to the Centre, the state government and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the plea filed by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma, alleging that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims, who were in a majority in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plea also alleged that rights of religious and linguistic ‘minorities’ in the state were being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily” due to extension of benefits to “unqualified sections” of the population.

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It has been settled that the identification of minority communities has to be decided as per the population data of the state in question, Sharma had said.

The apex court, however, had refused to restrain authorities from disbursing benefits to any community in the state.

The PIL has also sought the setting up of State Minority Commission for identification of minorities.

“The population of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir according to the 2011 Census is 68.31 per cent. Communities which are eligible to be notified as minorities, were not awarded their due share of scholarship owing to their non-identification as minorities, thereby jeopardising their constitutionally guaranteed rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India”.

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“This clearly reflects the unfairness and discrimination of the State towards the communities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which are eligible to be notified as minorities,” the petition alleged.

-prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard