A group of contractual lecturers of schools in Jammu and Kashmir have been holding protests for almost eight months for demands including the regularisation of their services but say they have not been met.
The protestors claim over 1,500 people have been affected by it but the government says there are only a "handful of them".
The government says the people who could not clear the Public Service Commission and the Service Selection Board (SSB) examinations wants the government to give them permanent jobs which is not possible.
The protestors have been camping in the exhibition ground near the Press Club in the heart of the winter capital for the last 237 days.
"We were engaged on contractual basis and helped government to ensure smooth functioning of schools in militancy-hit far flung areas but two decades down the line we were left with no choice but to sit on a symbolic hunger strike here to seek justice," Zubair Hussain, vice president of All J-K Contractual Lecturers (10+2) Forum, said.
Hussain, 40, claims to have cleared MSc, BEd, MEd and MPhil.
The organisation was formed by hundreds of lecturers appointed in 1998 on academic arrangement basis to serve in the government-run higher secondary schools in the state.
Arun Bakshi, president of the forum, says former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's policy in 2003 which he said enhanced the monthly salary of the contractual employees from 3,500 to 7,000 and "assured regularisation of the services within next three years".
He said their main demand is to be brought under civil services (special provisions) Act 2010, their services be regularised and those who were ousted be reinstated.
However, according to Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari "85 percent of youth", earlier engaged on academic arrangement, have already got regular jobs through the PSC and the SSB.
"Contractual is not a permanent job and their engagement was based on academic arrangement under which we hire teachers, professors and lecturers for a few months during an academic session. The posts of lecturers are gazetted in nature and can be filled only through the PSC," Bukhari told PTI.
He said only those who are 100 per cent fit for the job and clear the PSC and SSB examinations will be appointed.
The education minister assured the protestors "additional points when hired on academic arrangement".
He refuted all the claims of contractual lecturers of serving education department for the past two decades.
"Let anybody show me an order that they were continuously working in the department. We engage people for highest of nine months in some cases. None of them is engaged for a year," he said.
Bukhari also said that soon the SSB would be advertising for 2,500 posts and advised the contractual lecturers to "apply, prepare and qualify".
"Only those who are 100 per cent fit for the job and clear the PSC and the SSB examinations will be appointed," he said.
He said that the government has filled 1,600 posts in higher education department and 1,300 in school education department since March through the PSC and the SSB.
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