Recruitment of 800 firemen in Jammu and Kashmir has come under scanner following allegations of massive corruption in the selection process.

A panel headed by Raj Kumar Goyal, J-K’s Additional Chief Secretary Home, has been formed to probe alleged scam.

This is the fourth recruitment by the J-K administration which came under scanner over the last six months. Three selection lists in police, finance department and junior engineers have already been cancelled following probe by a panel headed by Goyal. The investigation has been handed to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The agency has already arrested over a dozen people in the police recruitment case.

Over 14,000 candidates appeared for the exams for 800 posts of firemen and drivers in the Fire Service Department in October 2020.

“It is very shocking to see how the recruitment process has been conducted. Firemen recruitment exams appear to be even more compromised than police sub-inspector recruitment exams,” said an official, as per the report.

The Opposition has accused the Union Territory administration for presiding over corruption and scams in recruitments in the region.

“Back-to-back recruitment scams in Naya Kashmir expose the J&K admin’s fake claims of zero corruption. They are sabotaging the future of our youngsters with unbridled impunity. Brazen manner in which corruption has blighted these processes indicate its policy to ruin the lives of youth,” tweeted former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Omar Abdullah, the National conference leader and former Chief Minister, also hit out at the administration. “Out of 10 recruitment lists, there are complaints against nine. Then they conduct inquiry and cancel selection lists. They (the administration) is playing with the future of youth,” said Omar Abdullah.

The National Conference leader said it has been more than four years of direct Central rule in J-K but the government is not able to stop scams in recruitment. “If there was a transparent system in place, there would be no need to conduct inquiries,” said Abdullah.

Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court indicted the administration for awarding the contract to a tainted agency to conduct exams of police sub-inspectors. The court said the decision to award contract to M/s Aptech Limited — a blacklisted agency — is malafide and a change of condition in the tender was intended to favour the private agency.

As per the report, the administration appealed against the decision and a division bench put a freeze on the single bench order, allowed exams but said the results cannot be declared till further orders.

In its order, the bench referred M/s Aptech Limited’s involvement in malpractices in power department recruitment in Uttar Pradesh, police recruitment in Rajasthan and the Irrigation department in Assam.
Refering to a Delhi High Court order imposing a penalty of ₹10 lakh on the controversial agency, Justice Waseem Nargal, in his judgment, said: “I completely agree with a view taken by Delhi High Court in a case titled M/s Aptech Limited, supra that organizations resorting to, or permitting malpractice at an institutional level should be kept at bay”.

A day later, Division Bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul and Justice Sindhu Sharma stayed the judgment.

Over the last two years, one after another recruitment process has come under scanner for alleged malpractices and corruption.

In June and July, recruitment exams for police sub-inspectors and junior engineers and Finance Account Assistants were cancelled following allegations of corruption and malpractices. According to the CBI investigators, sub-inspector posts were sold for ₹20 to 30 lakh during police recruitment exams. Altogether, 1,200 candidates were selected for the post of police sub- inspectors, 1,300 were picked as junior engineers and about 1000 as Finance Account Assistants.