Srinagar: The Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha led administration in Jammu and Kashmir came under widespread criticism after selecting the blacklisted Aptech, a Mumbai-based recruiting agency for conducting Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) exams.
Citing the reason that the company is blacklisted by many states including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, many political parties, JKSSB aspirants and other civil society members have expressed their displeasure over its selection by the government and demanded Sinha-led J&K administration to scrap the contract with the firm.
As per the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), appealing the government to save the future of students, Rafeeq Ahmad, a twitter user said that youth are under utter shock and frustration as JKSSB has scheduled exams in J&K with Aptech as exam conducting agency which is a fraud and scammer agency having a track record filled with scams.
Mir Rayees, another student says that the government is committed to ruin the future of deserving aspirants of JKSSB by doing this move. “Why did the JKSSB and LG-led administration hire a fraud company like APTECH,” he asked.
“Hiring dubious Aptech exam conducting agencies for the state level recruitment is a sheer fraud with the aspirants. Aptech Blacklisted tampered with Central level exams and one can imagine the susceptibility of JKSSB exams. Restore the merit system, save the meritorious youth of J&K,” says Deepika Pushkar Nath.
“We demand offline exams, JKSSB has conducted such exams in the past and can still do that. Should stop hiring private blacklisted companies like Aptech .Chances of hacking the system, setting hundreds of examination papers and then normalization is problematic,” Shahid Ayoub, another student said.
“By going with a blacklisted company aptech, JKSSB has made clear to the job seekers how serious it is about the whole exercise. It’s a shame that the future of youth is put on stake time and again, and this whole practice of conducting exams is made a joke,” another social media user said.
“JKSSB is playing with the future of youth. One of the notorious and blacklisted companies Aptech has been given the contract by JKSSB to conduct the examinations which stands blacklisted in many states of India. Why is our LG silent on this burning issue?,” another twitter user questioned.
Even many other aspirants said that the government had previously canceled similar exams conducted by the Aptech agency because it has consistently failed to provide transparency and accountability in conducting such an exercise.
Aghast over the administration’s move, Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone on his twitter handle said that: “I have received a lot of emails and messages about Aptech which has been blacklisted in other states. Given the shoddy track record of the past, SSRB better tread with caution. Students need to be heard. You can’t thrust a blacklisted company on our future,”.
National Conference chief spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar also lambasted the administration over awarding contracts to a blacklisted firm, saying it is a move to “destroy” career of local youth. “JKSSB is the enfant terrible of the incumbent J&K administration. The board in spite of addressing the genuine concerns and fear of the educated, skilled local youth seems hellbent to destroy their future by continuously persisting with a blacKlisted company,” Dar said.
“JKSSB is not serious about the future of youth. They have lost credibility and failed in trust building among youth and common people. Why JKSSB has allowed a blacklisted company to conduct examinations, which is known for the incompetency and insecure examination process,” Vice President of the Apni Party and former legislator Bandipora Usman Majid said in a tweet.
The J&K congress unit on its official Twitter handle said that it stands with aspirants who are suffering due to the illegitimate alliance of Aptech + JKSSB + Corrupt officials + BJP leaders.
Chief Spokesperson of Democratic Azad Party (DAP) Salman Nizami termed the awarding of contract to Aptech Limited a “deep rooted conspiracy”. “Awarding a contract to blacklisted Aptech by JKSSB seems a deep rooted conspiracy to spoil the future of J&K’s youth. The contract should be withdrawn immediately and in future never to engage with such companies,” Nizami said.
Notably, Aptech Limited allegedly found it involved in Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam recruitment scam in 2016. In 2017, it was hired by Rajasthan Police constable recruitment. The examination for the posts was held in 2017 in which irregularities were found. Later, in 2018 FIR was filed and examination was cancelled.
In 2018, UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) hired the same company for examination. After irregularities via system monitoring and various other modes were reported by STF, examination was scrapped and the said company was blacklisted for a period of three years from May 2019 to May 2022.
Irregularities were found also in 2020 after the Assam irrigation department examination was conducted by the same company. The Central Teacher Eligibility Test was also conducted by Aptech. However the paper was leaked and irregularities came up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar following which the Special Task Force also arrested one person in the case while the paper for the examination was later rescheduled.
Exams conducted by the JKSSB through the blacklisted company Aptech Limited for positions as a civil engineer, SI’s were also cancelled by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in December 2022.
The court mandated that the government form a high-level committee under the leadership of at least one retired judge from the High Court to look into JKSSB’s actions regarding its “blatant” irregularities and violations of the law in altering the tender’s terms and conditions.
The court questioning the awarding of the contract to APTECH asked the administration, “Why it mattered to them to award a contract to conduct an exam by a company that has in the past encouraged unethical behavior in public exams and consequently initiate the corresponding actions against those found guilty.”—(KNO)
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