Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) Vice President and Media Head Syed Basharat Bukhari today expressed his concerns about the recent order issued by the Jammu and Kashmir government barring its employees from making any critical comments or statements about the government’s actions or policies on social media platforms.
In a statement released today, Bukhari said that employees are an integral part of society and have the right to express their opinion on the decisions being made about their future.
“If the government is prohibiting its employees from expressing their political views on social media, it is effectively curtailing their freedom of expression and violating their fundamental rights as citizens”, he said.
Bukhari emphasised that the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression to every citizen, including government employees.
“If today the J&K government bars its employees from expressing their opinion freely because it doesn’t suit them, then will they also bar them from expressing their view through the ballot box tomorrow. Any attempt to restrict this right through arbitrary orders is an affront to the values of democracy and constitutionalism. And in case J&K government disagrees with the constitution, then let them express their disregard for the constitution openly and publicly and have the gall to ask the Parliament to move a constitutional amendment to disallow freedom of expression of employees”, he added.
Bukhari also expressed concerns about the chilling effect that such orders can have on free speech and open debate in society.
“Employees, being an integral part of society, have a unique perspective on government policies and decisions. Their views and opinions can provide valuable insights into the impact of government actions on the ground. By muzzling their voices, the government is denying itself an opportunity to engage with the public and take corrective measures, if necessary”, he added.
Bukhari reiterated that the right to freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy and must be protected at all costs. He urged the Jammu and Kashmir government to withdraw the order and respect the rights of its employees to express their views freely and openly.