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Can govt employees air political views openly? In J&K it’s a big ‘no’

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    Srinagar, Dec 27: Can a government employee have views on political matters? More importantly, can he/she air his/her political opinions openly?

    There is no such rule that stops a person from having political views and airing them openly too, irrespective of whether he/she earns his livelihood by working in a government office.

    Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed

    However, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government in restive Jammu and Kashmir thinks otherwise. In its latest order, the J&K government has put a "gag" on its employees by barring them from airing political views on social media.

    In fact, airing political views on personal social media accounts could now land J&K government employees in trouble.

    On Tuesday, the J&K government barred its employees from using their social media accounts for any political activity by amending the conduct rules for them.

    The government has added a sub-rule in the Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees Conduct rules which states that no government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the government.

    "They shall also not use their personal social media accounts for any political activity or endorse the posts or tweets or blogs of any political figure," the rule states.

    The employees shall also not use their accounts in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that the government endorses or sanctions their personal activities in any manner whatsoever, it said.

    The order said that the employees shall also not post inflammatory, extraneous messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response.

    Although the opposition National Conference (NC) has not issued any statement regarding the latest order by the ruling PDP-BJP government, the people of the state stated that the "gag order" against government employees is another attack on their freedom of speech.

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