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J&K govt bans employees from spouting criticism on social media

Conduct rules prescribe punishment ranging from a fine of one month’s salary to dismissal from service for violators.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2017 22:25 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir,Social media,Government employees
The directive, which amends the Government Employees Conduct Rules-1971, also barred government employees from using their personal accounts to endorse posts, tweets or blogs by political figures.(AFP File)

The Jammu and Kashmir government has banned employees from posting anything critical about the administration even on their private social media accounts.

“No government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct that may be prejudicial to the government on the social media,” an order issued by the commissioner secretary of the general administration department read.

The directive, which amends the Government Employees Conduct Rules-1971, also barred them from using their personal accounts to endorse posts, tweets or blogs by political figures. Furthermore, employees were told to desist from using their accounts in a manner implying that the government “endorses or sanctions” their personal activities. “They shall not post inflammatory or extraneous messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response, or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion,” the order read.

Conduct rules prescribe punishment ranging from a fine of one month’s salary to dismissal from service.

The opposition, however, was far from impressed. “So, will this amendment to the J&K Govt Employees Conduct Rules-1971 also cover the Information Dept press officers attached with ministers who openly write against the NC and its leaders? Or is it just meant to gag criticism of the govt?” asked National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu on Twitter.

The government order came a day after Shailendra Kumar Misra, a serving IPS officer, was asked to explain why he had objected to the practice of “terming the killing of Kashmiri militants as a success” during a public speech meant to mark the ninth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The officer, who heads an armed police battalion here, instead labelled the elimination of separatist fighters as “our collective failure” because eradicating militancy and bringing the youth back into the mainstream was of paramount importance.

State director general of police SP Vaid said Misra has been asked to explain his conduct.

The state government faced severe criticism for its handling of the 2016 summer unrest, in which 100 civilians were killed and thousands seriously injured.

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 22:25 IST