Jammu and Kashmir: Opposition parties slam PDP-BJP coalition for social media gag order on government employees
The gag order states that there have been incidents in which employees vented their work stress on the social media, thereby creating unwanted issues for the administration.
SRINAGAR: In a first, the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir has issued gag on use of social media by its employees and warned them against engaging in political discussions or criticising its policies on the social networking sites.
The gag order states that there have been incidents in which employees vented their work stress on the social media, thereby creating unwanted issues for the administration. “Such acts lead to breach of discipline contrary to what is expected of Government employees in the course of maintaining a reasonable and decent conduct in their personal lives, thereby staying clear of any disgrace to their services”.
“The employees must be aware that law enforcement agencies would observe content and information made available by them through social media. They should use their best judgment in posting material that is neither inappropriate nor harmful to the State,” it states.
“No government employee through any post, tweet or otherwise discuss or criticize on social media any policy pursued or action taken by the government nor shall he/she in any manner participate in any such discussion or criticism that takes place on social media,” the order states.
Invoking Jammu and Kashmir service conduct rules, the government said any violation of the directives empowers it to dismiss the erring employees from service, pre-maturely retire them, withhold their promotion or salary increments and even demote them to lower positions.
The order advises employees not to post, comment or share public information on matters related to their work or the work of the department. “They must properly safeguard privileged, confidential, classified, privacy-protected and/or sensitive departmental information. They shall not tweet, retweet or share any electronic transmission.”
The employees have been warned not to engage in discussion on political and contentious issues.
“The employees shall not use their personal social media accounts for any political activity or endorsing the posts or tweets or blogs of any political figure. No employee shall post, tweet or share content that is political or anti-secular and communal in nature or subscribe to pages, communities or twitter handles and blogs of such nature,” reads the order.
It states that employees must not post, update, share or promote any status or post that may be contentious or has the potential to create governance or law and order issues or are seen to propagate anything which is anti-social, anti-national or illegal.
The employees were warned against internet trolling and cautioned not to publish, post or release any information on social media that is considered confidential or not public. “The employees should not post the document if he/she is not authorised to communicate such document or information”.
The gag order has drawn strong opposition from the mainstream and separatist leaders.
Terming the gag order as “anti-people, undemocratic and unethical”, the State Congress spokesman said the gag was indicative of dictatorial mindset of the PDP-BJP government.
He asked the government to withdraw the order.
National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattu said the gag order depicts the regressive mindset of the Mehbooba Mufti-led government.
He cautioned the government against portraying lakhs of hard-working employees as “terrorists” and “anti-social elements” to cover its own “utter and complete failure” on both governance and political front.
CPI (M) State Secretary and MLA Mohammad Yousuf Targami said the gag exposes the dictatorial and regressive mindset of the PDP-BJP coalition government.
“The government must reconsider its decision and withdraw this gag order to avoid unrest in the ranks of its employees,” he said.
Meanwhile, moderate Hurriyat leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the gag on state employees as despotic.
He said the employees are an educated lot and important opinion makers and choking their voice by issuing dictatorial gags is another form of “state repression”.
“The irony is that the government order is not just applicable to employees but also extends to their family members as well,” Mirwaiz said.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik termed the gag as a direct attack on freedom of speech.
He said these diktats by the democrats actually resemble that of Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and have exposed Mehbooba-led government in the State.