August 2000 News

54 Young Men Bag Jobs In Kashmir''s ''Cleanest'' Recruitment

27 August 2000
The Indian Express

Chuntiwari(LoC): They have never travelled by car. They have never watched color TV. The nearest middle school is a 8 km walk away. The only employment they know of is to work as porters for the Indian army, carrying rations and ammunitions to the Indian posts. And their only contact with the outside world is dodging the Pakistani artillery shells that land everyday, everywhere. The inhabitants of the area surrounding this border village of Chuntiwari - right on the Line of Control in Machil sector of Kupwara district - live in virtual isolation from the rest of Kashmir. The entire belt of 13 villages has only two dozen government employees and the highest ranking one is an inspector with the Forest Department. To help bridge this gap, Director General of J&K Police, Gurbachan Jagat, organised a surprise on the spot recruitment here. The aim was to appoint 54 young men as constables from the poverty stricken and neglected area. The unexpected recruitment drive was devoid of any political pressure. There were no recommendations, no chance of nepotism or corruption, because there was no room or time for such maneuvering. Once the helicopter landed, an announcement was made, the boys lined up, the height and chest size measured, their qualification certificates checked and the selection list made public. The entire process was over in an hour. ''I have never seen Rs5000 at one time,'' says Abdul Majid, one among the selected constables. ''Now, as a policeman I will get Rs 5000 a month. I am excited and happy,'' he said with a large grin on his face. But a few feet away many of his friends and neighbours were sitting, sadness writ large on their faces. These boys had been rejected for being underage, or did not meet the physical requirements. Around 300 boys, most of them barefoot and wearing torn clothes - had gathered here to try their luck at the chance for a government job, perhaps the only fair selection process for any government job in the state. ''Qualifying ClassX is a big achievement for our children, but hardly anybody can afford to send their children to Kupwara town for higher education,'' says 60-year old Subhan Mir., So the on the spot recruitment came as a godsend. ''Even if there are advertisements for recruitment, we never get to know about it,'' says Abdul Rashid, who also works for the army. ''And if our children apply, they are seldom selected because there is no ''Shifarish '' (recommendation). The only way to get a government job is for youth to go to work as domestic help with a politician or bureaucrat in Srinagar. After working as six to seven years, they are generally absorbed as ClassIV employees somewhere,'' he said. The villagers here have accepted this channel of employment and send children to work as domestic servants at a young age so that they get a permanent job at the relatively early age of 17 or 18. As the selected 54 boys were given the final tips by senior officers before transportation in army vehicles to police lines in Kupwara, several of the new recruits were in tears. ''I have never been to Kupwara,'' said Arif. Indeed among the 54 chosen ones, only one has been to Srinagar. ''We want to leave for the training right now. We want to have a job so that we can send money home and also see the world outside these hills,'' says an elated Arif.


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