Insight Online News
By Vishal Bharti
Jammu, Nov 23 : Retired in 2001 as Head Groundman, bed ridden Sandokh Singh after serving nearly for four decades in Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council—is now fighting against diseases and struggling for life.
At the age of 81, Singh too is fighting hard for the implementation of the ‘Pension Policy’ in the J&K Sports Council—the autonomous body and a prestigious institution catering sports across the Union Territory.
Following October 10 story under the title “Battling for Pension Policy for decades, upset J&K Sports Council employees’ approach LG”, the UNI correspondent in over a month long exercise, tried to meet and interact with retired employees of the J&K Sports Council to know their fate post retirement due to non implementation of the pensionary benefits.
Sandokh Singh, 81 is staying with his family at village Bajalta in Sidhra here in the city outskirts.
“I joined Sports Council in 1961 and retired in 2001 but got only the gratuity amount after superannuation,” Singh with a crumbling voice told a UNI correspondent who visited him.
Going down the memory lane, Singh reminds of agitations the employees were fighting for the implementation of the Pension Policy stating, “there were two groups, pro and anti-pension policy. So, it was a tug of war like situation.”
“It is a high time now. Our life has almost come to an end but the government should consider the demand instead of forcing the employees to knock on the doors of the judiciary,” says the octogenarian.
Notably, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a judgement (no:2117/2018 titles Nazir Ahmad and Others V/s J&K State and Others, passed on March 20, 2020, directed the government to provide the pensionary benefits to the employees within two months.
Khursheed Begum, 73, wife of former Chief Sports Officer, Basheer Ahmed, staying with family in a village at Miran Sahib, while raising a pitch for pension policy, says, “we don’t understand why the government is delaying it.”
Five years ago, Basheer Ahmad died of a chronic disease. Narrating the fate, Khursheed Begum says that had there been pensionary benefits, she would also have been an independent human being.
“My kids are taking care of me but pensionary benefits after my husband’s death is my right,” she said, appealing to the Lieutenant Governor to get the policy implemented at the earliest so that those who are fighting hard to meet daily needs live a normal life.
Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is the President of Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council.
Nissar Ahmed, retired in 2018 from the administration department of the Council, speaking to UNI from Srinagar says, “everyone needs pensionary benefits. This is our right and like other autonomous bodies, it should also be introduced in the J&K Sports Council.”
“Some of the employees have died, some are bed ridden and others are fighting a legal battle for its implementation, especially the lower rung staff, who are the worst hit,” explains Nissar Ahmed.
Kura Ram, who retired in 2006 as Chowkidar living with his family at village Ramgarh in Vijaypur tehsil of Samba district talking to UNI says that life has become miserable and with each passing day, it is deteriorating.
“Pension is the only and last hope for us but why the government is lingering on, is not understandable,” he expresses with moist eyes.
“We are dependent on our kids. A chunk of agricultural land I got in an ancestral property is the medium of survival,” says Kura Ram and appealed to the Lieutenant Governor to think of these ‘unsung heroes’, who have contributed in the development and upliftment of sports infra working round the clock over a period of years.
Former Administrative Officer, Noor Mohammad from Srinagar, speaking to UNI telephonically, says, “I am suffering from chronic disease and do not have sufficient funds to meet my daily needs, especially the medicines.”
“It is better to be late than never. Government should consider this demand of retired employees on a serious note,” he appealed.
President, All J&K Retired Employees Association, J&K Sports Council, Rajan Sharma, when contacted, said, “we are fighting for our rights for decades but no heed is paid to the genuine demand.”
“It is already too late. The administration must save at least those who are struggling for implementation of the pensionary benefits. Retired employees are facing hardships,” says Sharma, who himself has retired as Divisional Sports Officer.
Meanwhile a senior official of the J&K Sports Council wishing not to be quoted said, “the fight of retired employees is genuine.”
“We will also be sailing in a same boat in years to come if there will be no pension policy,” he said alleging that because of some of the employees, who have availed undue benefits and promotions and feared of being exposed, the pensionary benefits are not being introduced for Council employees.
The employees in one voice said that if pensionary benefits are extended to Khadi Village and Industries Board (order no: 82 of 1993, Dated: 16-03-1993), J&K Industries, J&K Handicrafts Corporation, J&K Handloom Silk Weaving Factory (transferred from JKI to Handloom Corporation (under government order no: 35-Ind of 2018, Dated: 25-01-2018), State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) (all autonomous bodies), then why not to J&K Sports Council Employees.
Even, the employees of the Department of Youth Services of Sports, the sister concern of J&K Sports Council, are availing pensionary benefits but why step motherly treatment for Sports Council family? they questioned.