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Naukarshahi at Kashmir University: Occupy posh quarters even after retirement or greener pastures; jump queue if you are ‘influential’

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Srinagar: The University of Kashmir (KU) has become a hotchpotch of rules breached by its own ‘learned’ employees including some senior faculty members.

The varsity’s staff accommodation system is rife with favouritism so much so that many retired employees continue to accommodate their erstwhile quarters in the campus years after they superannuated.

In addition, a few teachers who found better offers in other universities in J&K, also continue to occupy their quarters provided by KU, even as they pocket a hefty HRA from their new employers, The Kashmir Monitor has learnt.

A waiting-list of around 100 employees has been stuck for years as influential teaching and non-teaching staffers have gained out-of-turn access to residential quarters, many of them beyond their pay and grade.

Always brushed under the carpet, the matter eventually made it to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s office recently. Sinha is also the Chancellor of the University.

What raked it was a senior earth sciences professor getting the accommodation even though he was behind in the waiting-list.

Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that a senior professor at the department of statistics was shocked after the accommodation he was expecting to get was occupied by the earth sciences professor in the dead of the night.

The distressed statistics professor approached Kashmir University Teachers Association (KUTA), of which he was a member, hoping that his concern will be addressed.

The Association, however, looked the other way.

The professor then wrote to J&K LG Manoj Sinha, knowing that things may not budge if he approaches the issue within the varsity.

The LG, in turn, asked the Vice Chancellor Dr Talat Ahmad for an explanation, who ordered the professor of earth sciences to vacate the accommodation.

The professor, according to the sources, has not complied so far.

On the contrary, he has approached the court and stayed the entire process.

The issue has now opened a Pandora’s box.

From professors to assistant registrars to even chowkidars, several of the varsity’s employees who have retired years ago continue to enjoy free accommodation in the campus.

Erstwhile professors of the two major departments, two Assistant Registrars, and several other employees who have already retired refuse to relinquish their accommodations.  

According to rules, an employee has a maximum of six months after retirement to vacate the quarters.

“They live and enjoy the accommodation, many not even paying the rent for it,” sources said.

Another issue with the ailing system is how quarters are occupied by people who have moved on to greener pastures.

For instance, a joint registrar of the varsity who was on deputation for two years to another university did not let go his quarters here at KU.

The person was supposed to pay his House Rent Allowance (HRA), which he had been paid by his new employer, to his parent University. However, according to sources, he did not pay anything despite recommendations by the committee constituted for the same by the Vice Chancellor.

Besides, the quarters allotted to the person by KU were higher than his pay grade and meant to be allotted to professors only.

Surprisingly, the person came back to KU after serving another institution for two years and restarted living in the same quarters.

Another such case is of a professor on deputation to a different university for a period of three years. He too has not vacated his accommodation at the main campus of the varsity despite drawing the HRA from his new employer.

Yet another case is of an employee appointed in a different University two years ago. He still has access to free accommodation in the Mirza Bagh campus of KU.

Not just the teaching staff, things are messy among the non-teaching staff as well.

For instance, quarters designated for class-III employees have been allotted to a class-IV employee.

One class IV employee, who does not even figure in the waiting list and was regularised quite recently, was accorded the privilege because after the office hours, he works as a domestic help for a senior Kashmir University’s official.

Other class-III employees, who had applied as early as five years ago for the quarters, still have 50 more people ahead of them in the waiting list.

Similarly, a health-worker has been allotted quarters meant for Associate Professors. According to the rules, the person, at best, should have been given an apartment meant for lecturers.

President Kashmir University Teachers Association Dr Manzoor Chachoo, who is also a member of the committee which allots the quarters to the teaching staff, said the entire mess stems from the previous Vice Chancellor’s “regime”.

“Three years ago, the then VC had allotted six quarters to Associate Professors who were not in the queue. Two of the quarters were allotted to a doctor and an Assistant Registrar even though their pay and grade did not merit it,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.

“Normally, a Vice Chancellor can, out of turn, allot 20% of the available quarters, which would mean of the eight quarters we had at that time, the VC could have allotted two, though that too can happen only in extreme cases,” he added.

Registrar Kashmir University, Dr Nisar Mir agreed that some of the professors who had retired still use the campus accommodation.

“One faculty member of the political science department has retired but still using the accommodation. She is a single woman and has no house. Our accommodation policy is that we give a retiring employee six months of stop-gap to look for shift out. Post six months, if the person continues to use the university accommodation, they have to pay the rent, which as per the HRA deduction, is around Rs 30,000 for a professor. So, she is paying the rent,” Dr Mir said.

“Another professor in Kashmiri department who retired and continues to use the university-provided accommodation went to court after we asked him to vacate,” he added.

About the tussle between professors at the Statistics and the Earth Sciences department, the Registrar agreed that the earth sciences professor had approached the court and the matter was now subjudice.