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Himachal CM Sukhu sparks row as 590 new institutes shut, govt jobs panel suspended

Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, CM Himachal Pradesh

Shimla:  Himachal Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu has triggered political turmoil in the state within days of taking as he has ordered the closure of 590 new institutions and offices, opened during the previous BJP government and suspended the Himachal Pradesh State Selection Commission (HPSSC) following a question paper leak.

This has given the BJP a good reason to go on protests and raise questions on the Congress’s vendetta politics – a trend that prevailed during Virbhadra Singh’s regime.

The BJP has submitted a memorandum to Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar seeking his intervention to stop the government from resorting to closure of institutions opened on ‘public demand’.

Nevertheless, the Chief Minister has come-out with his own reasons for the decision to close down the institutions opened close to the elections.

“There have been cases when the institutions were opened on paper or just having a peon to man it. We are examining all cases and if reasons are justifiable, we will notify such institutions soon” he maintains.

But, the most striking development in the past five days has been the leak of a question paper for the post of Junior Office Assistant for which the Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission (HPSSC), Hamirpur had to conduct competitive exams on December 25.

Six persons including a woman, senior office assistant in the Commission’s secrecy branch Uma Azad and her son Nikhil Azad and a tout Sanjay, have been arrested by the state Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (SV & ACB) on a tip off from one of the candidates, who was being sold question paper for Rs 2.50 lakhs.

Sukhu has put the commission under suspension and ordered that all further recruitments should be stopped till thorough investigations are done.

Meanwhile, nearly 2000 youths preparing for exams are finding themselves caught-up in a bizarre situation as the commission will not be able to function for some time or till a new system is put in place.

“All ongoing and pending recruitment processes have been kept in abeyance till further orders” an official order said on Monday.

The acts of omissions and commission in HPSSC, Hamirpur, have not only eroded its credibility, but also affected larger public interest.

According to an order, HPSSC Secretary Jitender Kumar and Deputy Secretary Sanjeev Kumar have been relieved from their respective posts. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, has been appointed as the officer on special duty, HPSSC.

“ We don’t know how deep this racket has been and which other recruitments were compromised. The vigilance teams have recovered huge cash and also some other question papers relating to upcoming examinations from the residence of Uma Azad, “the Chief Minister told India Narrative.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by DIG (SV & ACB) G Sivakumar, with three SPs, four Additional SPs and three DSPs and other senior officers as members have been set-up up to look into the alleged malpractices in the past exams conducted by the HPSSC.

The SIT would also look into alleged malpractices in past exams conducted by the Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission (HPSSC).

“It appears the commission has not discharged its duties and responsibilities objectively and its credibility has been eroded. There are also reports about leak of question papers of posts of Junior Auditors and Computer Operators, for which examinations were proposed to be held in near future,” said Naresh Chauhan, Chief Minister’s principal media advisor.