The Unanswered Questions: J&K Fire and Emergency Scandal Continues to Loom

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The Unanswered Questions: J&K Fire and Emergency Scandal Continues to Loom

Yasir Shakoor

Srinagar, Nov 03: In a gripping tale that spans a year, the Jammu and Kashmir Fire and Emergency Services find themselves embroiled in controversy, surrounded by protests, and shrouded in a cloud of unanswered questions. The heart of this story lies in a purported scam, allegedly uncovered in the department’s recruitment process, which has left thousands of hopeful aspirants demanding justice and transparency.

It all began when whispers of irregularities and questionable practices surfaced regarding the J&K Fire and Emergency exam. The revelation sent shockwaves through the region, leaving aspiring job seekers disillusioned and deeply concerned. A year has passed since those initial allegations, yet the situation remains far from resolved, leaving protestors with their voices raised and demands unmet.

Aspirants of Fire and Emergency Services raising slogans during protest at Jammu. -Excelsior/Rakesh

In response to mounting pressure, the government issued an official order, announcing the formation of a three-member panel headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) R K Goyal with the task of investigating the alleged scam within the fire and emergency services. This order explicitly stated that the committee had a one-month deadline to submit its report. However, despite the passage of an entire year, the report remains conspicuously absent from public scrutiny, casting a long shadow of doubt over the process and intensifying the protestors’ determination to seek answers.

Government Order on J&K Fire and Emergency Scandal

Rumors have surfaced, suggesting that influential politicians may be involved in the alleged scam. This speculation offers a potential explanation for the government’s reluctance to release the inquiry report, further fueling the protestors’ resolve to uncover the truth. Their protests have extended to Srinagar and other key locations in Kashmir, and they have taken their grievances to the highest levels of the political hierarchy, even including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In this narrative of determination and resilience, we witness prominent figures like J&K BJP President Ravindra Raina, National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah, and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti lending their support to the protestors’ demands. They have added their voices to the growing chorus of frustration and concern, as they call for the immediate release of the inquiry report.

J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina met the agitating aspirants at Jammu | Courtesy: BJP J&K FB

The heart of this issue lies in the multiple attempts at recruitment for positions in the Jammu and Kashmir Fire and Emergency Services. Thousands of young aspirants had applied for these roles, and approximately 7,000 of them took the written test in 2013 after passing an initial shortlist. However, their dreams were shattered when the interview phase was disrupted by massive floods in the region in 2014, leading to the cancellation of the recruitment process in 2017.

A subsequent attempt at recruitment in 2018 faced similar challenges, with allegations of irregularities casting a shadow over the process. The situation came to a head in September 2020 when another test was conducted, and a selection list was released amid renewed claims of irregularities.

The demand for transparency and accountability has grown among the aspirants, many of whom have expressed their frustration over the prolonged investigation. They are calling for a CBI inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Fire and Emergency Services. The protestors assert that the recruitment process has been marred by corruption, nepotism, and favoritism, and that justice can only be achieved through a comprehensive inquiry.

Dozens of aspirants protesting at Srinagar’s Press Enclave, alleging official apathy

One of the protesters, Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, shared his experience of repeated disappointment, stating, “I am a victim of injustice by the Fire and Emergency Services Department. We applied for the posts in 2012 but it was found that there was a ‘scam.’ Then we applied again in 2018, and again a ‘scam’ was found. Last year again another ‘scam’ was found.” Sheikh highlighted the committee formed by the administration in December, which was tasked with investigating the alleged irregularities.

The committee was expected to deliver its report within one month, but its delay has left protestors anxious and skeptical.

The unanswered questions surrounding the alleged scam in the Jammu and Kashmir Fire and Emergency Services persist, and the protestors continue their determined stand for justice. The government’s response to these demands and the release of the long-awaited inquiry report will be closely watched, as the issue resonates far beyond the streets of Srinagar, impacting the aspirations of countless youth in the region.

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