Srinagar, Aug 18: Fayaz Ahmad Wani, a 52-year-old contractual college lecturer with a doctorate in Arabic, is now working as a farm laborer to support his family.

Hailing from Magam in Budgam district, Wani joined the higher education department in 1995 as a contractual lecturer. He is currently posted at Government Degree College Kansahab, but with no work.  With no salary since August last year, Wani was compelled to work as a farm laborer to sustain his family

“I am the lone breadwinner of my family. Since August last year, I have not received a salary. I had no option but to work as a farmer to support my family. I want to get my daughter married. But I am a helpless father who cannot afford the marriage expenses,” Wani said as tear swell his eyes.

Wani said people are hesitant to hire him as a laborer because everyone knows that he was working as a professor. “They feel embarrassed seeing a Ph.D. working as a laborer. Last time I was working in a nearby field. I did not know that the owner was one of my students. Both of us were embarrassed. He did not allow me to work further in his field,” he said.

What is worrying Wani is that he has crossed the upper age limit and does not qualify for any job. “Where will I go? Who will give me a job at this stage of my life? I have given prime of my youth to this department and now they say I am not required. Is this justice?” Wani rued.

Wani is not an isolated case. The authorities have categorized many contractual lecturers as “surplus candidates” which means that the college has sufficient faculty available but no work.

What has rubbed salt on their wounds is the government’s proposal to increase the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 62 years in view of “massive shortage of faculty” in the degree colleges.

 “A proposal to bring the retirement age to 62 years after checking of the practices of other UTs may be submitted by the department,” reads the government document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor.

On the other side, contractual college lecturers are not assigned any work despite serving the department for decades.

“We are told that they don’t need us. We have given our youth to this department but now we have been shown doors,” said another college lecturer wishing anonymity.

There are around 80 such contractual lecturers who continue to suffer due to government policy.

“Court also directed college authorities to release salaries of the contractual lecturers. But the department cares two hoots of court orders. We request LG Manoj Sinha and Advisor KK Sharma to kindly look into the matter otherwise our families will die of starvation,” said Muhammad Iqbal Rather, spokesperson, J&K Contractual College Teachers Association.

Director Colleges, Muhammad Yaseen Shah was not available for the comments.

 “Advisor KK Sharma is soon holding a public grievance darbar. Academic arrangement teachers will also be called to discuss the issue,” said Afaq Ahmad, media spokesman of advisor KK Sharma.

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