The government order restricting use of social media by its employees is a political move to choke J&K’s entire population of more than 30 lakh souls, various employees’ associations said on Thursday, and vowed to fight the “diktat” legally.
“There are already conduct rules for the employees, which make it clear that an employee can’t indulge in political activity or do anything which is against the rules. So, what was the need for this diktat? It is actually a political move aimed to suppress freedom of speech of entire population of 30 lakh souls in the state, including employees and their family members,” said president, J&K civil secretariat non-gazetted employees’ union, Ghulam Rasool Mir.
Apart from directing employees not to indulge in political discussions or endorse any political personality on their personal social media accounts, the government has, as per its detailed guidelines on use of social media by its employees, also put the onus on employees to discourage their family members from indulging in any “subversive activity.”
Mir said that there are around five lakh employees working with the government. “If we add up their family members, this sums up to 30 lakh population of the state which is around 1/4th of the total population. The government wants to choke them all into submission,” said Mir.
The association, having strength of around 5,000 to 6,000 employees, has taken up social media ban with other employees’ association to chalk out the future strategy, he said.
The opposition parties as well as the Hurriyat leadership have unanimously opposed the gag order, terming it “dictatorial, despotic and direct attack on people’s freedom of speech and expression.”
Chairman, employees’ joint action committee (EJAC) Abdul Qayoom Wani said that they have decided to knock the doors of judiciary to seek revocation of SRO-525 under which the government has put curbs on use of social media by its employees.
“We demand immediate revocation of the SRO as it is against the fundamental right to speech and expression,” said Wani.
The EJAC is an umbrella organisation of employees representing around five lakh employees, he said.
“We will fight it at organisation level as well. This policy has long repercussions. Tomorrow if there are issues of employees which are not addressed by the government, don’t we have the right to protest against the government and express ourselves on social media then?” Wani asked.
“This gag order is like emergency imposed on employees and their families. Don’t our children have right to opinion and to express it? The government wants to muzzle individual thinking power of our family members too,” said Wani.