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Probe into Plum Post for Mehbooba Mufti's Cousin Yet to Start, KVIB Candidates Want All Recruitments Quashed

The appointment of 37-year old Aroot Madni, Mehbooba Mufti's maternal cousin, had enraged other shortlisted candidates, who alleged he was favoured for the post of executive officer.

Mufti Islah | CNN-News18

Updated:March 4, 2018, 11:58 PM IST
Probe into Plum Post for Mehbooba Mufti's Cousin Yet to Start, KVIB Candidates Want All Recruitments Quashed
File photo of J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Srinagar: A week after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered a probe into allegations of nepotism over her cousin's appointment in Khadi Village Industries Board, the investigation is yet to start.

Mufti had instituted a probe committee and nominated chief secretary BB Vyas to head it, but the team is still awaiting an order from the government. "No government order is there yet. The chief minister has called for a probe and the order would be probably ready in few days, most probably by this week," said Khursheed Shah, commissioner secretary, General Administration Department.

The appointment of 37-year old Aroot Madni, Mufti's maternal cousin, had enraged other shortlisted candidates, who alleged he was favoured for the post of executive officer. The uproar prompted Madni, son of Sartaj Madni, vice-president of People's Democratic Party, to submit his resignation.

In a letter released to press, he said his father's "spotless public life was more important to him than a job which he got on merit." Nonetheless, he said he is giving it up as the other candidates selected on merit should not suffer.

However, the state's law secretary Abdul Majid Bhat, who was the controller of the examination for KVIB, has raised questions about the fairness of the selection process in a letter, which is in possession of News18.

The letter written to IGP of state' criminal investigation department - CID, states that the exam process was rigged right from the start. He wrote about "some unfair means" reported during the conduct of written exams and asked the CBI to conduct an in depth verification so that the examination process remains transparent.

But Peer Mansoor, vice chairman of KVIB and a close aide of Mufti, said proper recruitment rules were followed. "This is the fairest selection in the history of KVIB. We are nowhere in the picture. There is no question of any hanky panky," he said.

But there are still question marks over the process followed. For instance, 49 candidates were called for interview for three posts in the open merit category against prescribed 3 or 5 for every post.

"A ratio of three to one or maximum five to one is a norm to fill vacancies in the state but here they had a bus load of candidates for interview. Wonder what was the written test for if so many were to gatecrash the interview," said a dropped candidate.

Some candidates called for interview meant for open merit (OM) were drawn from scheduled tribe (ST) and Rural Backward Area (RBA) categories and eventually one ST candidate took up a place in OM. Rashid Qadri, KVIB secretary, said, "The ST candidate from Leh scored more than the OM candidate and that is why he figured in the list. We haven't deprived a seat to anyone meritorious."

News 18 spoke to dropped candidates who alleged the outsourcing of the exam to a private agency was to favour the influential. "The state recruitment agencies are credible and capable of holding fair exams for a large number of candidates. The private agency was employed to rig the exams," said one.

Another said that had KVIB engaged Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection and Recruitment Board - JKSSRB - which conducts all such exams for non-gazetted posts, selection would have been fair.

They said 60 marks instead of 80 were kept for written, 30 (it is otherwise 20) for interview and 10 for experience. "The weightage for experience was not used at all," another candidate said, adding "this was done to manipulate selection for the blue-eyed."

Qadri, however, argues selection process was fair. "Our vice chairman's nephew could not make it. It should tell the process was very transparent."

The candidates, however, want the list to be quashed and officials who were part of exams and selection process to be removed for a fair inquiry. "No inquiry can be fair if the officials are not removed. They can influence the inquiry," said a candidate.

"The controller examination has himself admitted the exams were not fair. So the list needs to be quashed and fresh dates for exams announced," the candidate added.

The KVIB had advertised various posts, including that of executive officer, on October 8, 2016.

The shortlisted candidates appeared in the written test in August 2017 and the interviews were held in the last week of January. The KVIB had placed an advertisement for 101 posts including six for Executive Officer in 2016. Approximately 60000 applications were entertained for the candidates to write the exams.

| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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