Jammu Parties Welcome Job Bill, Kashmir Leaders Angry10 April 2010
Srinagar: Politicians from the Kashmir Valley are furious but Jammu-based political parties have welcomed the passage in the state assembly Friday of the amended inter-district recruitment ban bill, which retains eight percent job quota for the Scheduled Castes across Jammu and Kashmir. 'It's our victory,' declared Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party legislature party leader Harshdev Singh after the bill was passed by voice vote in the state assembly. 'It has kept reservation of eight percent for the Scheduled Castes alive for all the districts in the state. Had the bill been passed without this (the amendment), it would have meant only four percent reservation for the community as 10 districts of the valley would have been kept out of its purview,' he added. The Panthers Party had opposed the bill but changed its stand after the amendment moved by Harshdev Singh, seeking retention of job quota for the Scheduled Castes, was accepted by the National Conference-Congress government. Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) legislature party leader Chaman Lal Gupta, whose party called for a shutdown Friday to protest the bill, also welcomed the amended legislation. 'We welcome the government's move to have the amended bill and keep eight percent jobs reserved for the Scheduled Casted in all the districts,' it said. However, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which won 19 of the 46 legislative assembly seats from the valley, expressed its anger at the amended bill, terming it 'injustice with the people' of the state. Senior PDP leader and former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh told IANS that there was 'no logic' in reserving jobs for the SCs in the districts where they were not present at all. 'There was a need to debate the whole issue, its pros and cons. It was not done and I think this is unfair to our people,' he said. 'We are not saying that jobs should not be reserved for the marginalised sections, but it would have been appropriate if these were to be reserved in the districts where they have the population, not elsewhere.' The 10 districts of Kashmir Valley do not have any SCs, and it would mean at least 8 percent jobs going to the candidates from the community from the Jammu region, where they form 20 percent of the population. Legislators of the ruling National Conference also resented the amendment. A National Conference legislator from Kashmir's north-western Kupwara district said on condition of anonymity: 'How would I justify the bill to my constituents? Eight percent of the district level jobs would still go to outsiders.' Employment is a big issue in Jammu and Kashmir, with more than 567,000 educated unemployed youth registered with the employment exchanges in the state. The militancy, street protests and stone pelting in Kashmir have been attributed to the frustration of the jobless youth in the valley. With government jobs being limited, the youth are getting increasingly frustrated. 'This is a big problem for us all,' said Abdul Rashid Engineer, an Independent legislator from Langate constituency of Kupwara. 'These reservations where there is no SC population will add fuel to fire. Already we are facing situations like stone pelting and angry protests in Kashmir on daily basis,' Engineer told media persons.