Srinagar: In the first week of August, when the NDA government did away with the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, there was a group of 264 residents who had a reason to cheer. They are the aspiring civil servants who had qualified for the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS), Kashmir Police Service (KPS) and Kashmir Accounts Service (KAS).
They had cleared the examination in 2014 but were kept on hold due to a series of litigation in courts challenging the selection process.
On 7 August, two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared the nullification of Article 370, the Supreme Court cleared the deck for their training, pending its final ruling.
These 264 probationers will now start training at the Institute of Management and Public Administration (IMPA) in Srinagar this week. This comes even as there is uncertainty about their cadre, given that the state has now been divided into two union territories.
Administration officials speaking to ThePrint expressed concern over the modalities of the new framework that will be implemented after J&K officially becomes a union territory on 31 October.
According to sources, the current state cadre as well central civil services of J&K are likely to remain unchanged even after 31 October. But the course is said to have been upgraded.
“For the first time, the government has designed the course in such a way that it is on a par with courses taught for the Indian Administrative Service…” said a senior IMPA official. “We will inaugurate the course on 3 October.”
Other modalities are being discussed and a final decision will be arrived at soon, the sources said.
The batch will be divided into two groups, one of which will spend a few weeks in the Kashmir wing of the IMPA and the other in its Jammu wing.
These probationers, who form the first batch to be trained at the IMPA in five years, will, however, be taking the course in extraordinary circumstances.
They will have to share their accommodation with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, thousands of whom were brought to the state ahead of the scrapping of Article 370 to maintain law and order.
In the days before the decision was made official, the Modi government had deployed more than 700 companies of paramilitary troopers across Kashmir, four of which are posted at the prominent Srinagar school, Government SP Model Higher Secondary Institute, which shares a boundary wall with the IMPA.
Now, not only have more than 400 CRPF personnel made the higher secondary school their home, at least a dozen men from the force’s 34 Battalion have been adjusted on the IMPA premises.
According to academy officials, the CRPF personnel have only taken up three of the hostel’s 50 rooms, although the troopers do use the other facilities available, which include a recreation room, dining hall and kitchen.
The IMPA management said the presence of CRPF personnel had not affected the institute and it won’t impact the training either.
“They (CRPF) are only occupying three of the rooms. If they decide to leave on their own, then that is fine, but if they decide to stay, we don’t have an issue with that either,” said another senior IMPA official.
While IMPA plans to start with their course from Thursday, the higher secondary school next door, serving as a CRPF camp since 5 August, remains out of bounds for students. Not that there were any coming anyway, with parents deciding against sending their children to schools amid the communication lockdown, despite the administration’s repeated attempts to resume classes.
Staffers present on the premises said troopers had “taken over” all sections and rooms of the schools except that of the principal. There are two staff rooms in the school — one for men and one for women. However, according to the staffers, the one for women teachers is the only area where 72 staff members of the school can work.
“The students have not come since the curfew started on 5 August. The staff comes in to sign and do other work. They spend their day inside the staff room or sit in the parks,” said a support staffer.
Bunkers have been set up both on and beyond the premises of the school, whose entry is guarded by CRPF personnel. “We were told we have to stay here for a few weeks. It’s almost two months now,” said a CRPF trooper posted at the school. “We don’t know when we will be asked to leave.”