CLEAN BOARD

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 Clean Board
 Things are getting tougher for the JKSSB as the youth hit the streets to push for steps against its officials and Aptech, the company it has hired. The protest is finding strength with leading political parties and Twitter campaigns backing the aspirants.
Mian Tufail
THE Jammu & Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) administration doesn’t seem to stop anywhere when it comes to bringing disgrace to its present dispensation. The officials at the helm of affairs of the board aren’t listening to the grievances of candidates despite clear directions
from the Lieutenant Governor administration to remain accessible and overhaul the process in order to bring transparency and assurance in the recruitment process. The recruitment of Junior Engineer (JE) Civil and Sub-Inspector (Home Department) has exposed the malaise the board has been carrying with its rigid administration. In September 2022, the LG administration
carried out an overhaul of the administration within the JKSSB to bring transparency into the system but the present officials are proving to be incompetent and inaccessible to the grievances of the board aspirants.
Corroded by corruption
Aptech Private Company, hired by the JKSSB to conduct the examinations in the UT, has been drawing a lot of flak after a number of cases of corruption by the firm surfaced. On as recent as March 1, a scam was unearthed at Leh wherein Aptech officials were arrested for
tampering with the exam process to help some blue-eyed aspirants. Apprehensions of further frauds in the JKSSB exams led to a massive twitter campaign by the aspirants in the UT of J&K which fetched nearly 200K tweets.
While talking to Kashmir Central, Vinkal Sharma, who’s heading the protests against JKSSB and Aptech, demands a roll-back of the tainted private firm to restore the faith of the candidates in the recruitment system. Says he, “Our demand is simple: the JKSSB should cancel the tender of Aptech Pvt. Ltd. and recruit any other agency which has a clean track record in conducting the examination. We had informed the officials of the JKSSB well in advance but their attitude towards us was highly arrogant and in response, they accused us of delaying the process”. In December last, a single bench of the J&K High Court had strongly indicted the JKSSB administration for allotting contract to a tainted agency. The court had said the decision to award a contract to M/S
Aptech Limited, a blacklisted agency, was mala fide and change of condition in tender was intended to favour the said firm. But just after a day of the judgment, a division bench of the High Court stayed the single bench order and directed the JKSSB to conduct the examination process but barred the board from declaring results till further orders from the court. Vinkal remarks, “Our fight is against the JKSSB and Aptech. Our protest isn’t directed towards the LG administration. And now when the board officials are adamant to further breed corruption, we demand the intervention of the LG to hear us out and pull up the JKSSB for tinkering with the merit system”.
Meanwhile, the JKSSB is under scanner and facing multiple investigations by the LG. After all, its officials are accused of taking huge bribes from aspirants during the SI and JE recruitments of 2022. The investigation and raids are still being carried out at different locations in
both Jammu and Srinagar.

 

 

Public protest
The hashtag #Aptech #JKSSB is trending on Twitter and netizens are appealing to the administration to scrap the contract with the firm to save future of the J&K youth. Last Wednesday saw aspirants hit the streets in Jammu and Srinagar, demanding the rollback of the private agency. They demanded exemplary punishment for the JKSSB officials who favored Aptech over
others by changing the terms and conditions of the tender. While speaking to KC, Saboora, an aspirant, pointed: “Why should we suffer the malpractice of JKSSB officials? I’m about to enter my 30s and for the last three years, the JKSSB hasn’t completed any recruitment process in time. Today, we have assembled here to make our voice heard to the LG administration and inform them that the officials in JKSSB are hell bent upon destroying the careers of the youth in J&K”
                  .
Politicians back the roll-back
Meanwhile, all the mainstream political parties have lined up right behind the agitating aspirants.
Echoing the public rage over the decision of the JKSSB to conduct further exams in collaboration with the same firm, National Conference Spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said, “Aptech has been penalised by the Supreme Court for its fraud and is blacklisted in various states. Why has the JKSSB hired a company with such a tainted past? Why select a company that’s consistently failed to provide transparency and accountability in conducting such an exercise? JKSSB officials must
answer the queries of the aggrieved aspirants”. JKPC President Sajad Lone has tweeted: “I have received several emails and messages about Aptech which has been blacklisted in other states.
Given its shoddy track record, the board (JKSSB) should tread with caution. Students need to be heard”.
       
  The fight is on
Pertinently, we at Kashmir Central have covered the whole exercise since the matter went sub-judice. At this moment too, we have tried to contact officials of the JKSSB but they have refused to respond to our repeated calls and texts. Meanwhile, an aspirant for the Junior Engineer exams shares: “We will not sit for the examinations until all these blacklisted companies arebanned in  J&K. It’s no news that Aptech has a tarnished reputation. Many national papers have highlighted its varied scams. We have requested LG Sir to look into the affairs of the JKSSB and make these
officials accountable for their corruption”. Meanwhile, top academics of the country like Dr. Gaurav Garg of StudyIQ group, Ex-IES officer and Unacademy tutor Jaspal Singh, Academic Dr. Vipin from Jammu Bar besides different political and social activists have announced their support for the aspirants in their fight against the tyranny of the JKSSB and its officials.

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